Estes Park, Colo., is home to the Elk Meadow Lodge and RV Park.

This quaint town, situated northwest of Denver, also has the Elk Valley Auto Parts and White Elk Vision and Glass.

A woman, Rose R. Elk, lives in nearby Berthoud.

Elk are everywhere.

We saw these magnificent mammals for ourselves last weekend while visiting my brother at his home outside Estes Park, the tourist gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park. The area is recovering from recent flooding that claimed lives, washed out many roads and driveways and damaged homes and local businesses.

Despite the devastation, the land is still picture-postcard beautiful. Cool pine-scented air, countless hiking trails, friendly residents and sightings of forest animals, big and small, provide a marvelous vacation get-away.

Led by a huge male, a herd of about 15 elk appeared in a meadow 40 yards from my brother’s house. A North American bull elk weighs about 700 pounds and measures nine feet from its hooves to its towering rack of horns. We watched, almost spellbound, as the animals grazed at sunset. Now and then the single male elk broke the peaceful silence, lifting its head and bugling a high-pitched mating call.

We also drove through the Rocky Mountain National Park, where during the late summer breeding season male elk strip the velvet from their antlers to prepare for violent battles against other bulls as they compete for mating rights.

Ground squirrels, chipmunks and mule deer also share the snow-capped landscape.

My sister-in-law Laura Waller, a talented amateur photographer, took the picture that accompanies this column.

Elk peacefully coexist with local residents. An antlered bull elk didn’t appear out of place as it ambled across the grass in front of the downtown Estes Park Public Library. Had the big fellow produced his library card or ereader from his elk bag, maybe more heads would have turned to stare.

A bronze elk statue graces the front lawn of the town’s most famous landmark, the Stanley Hotel. The white, century-old hotel is rumored to be haunted. Author Stephen King stayed at the Stanley and found inspiration for his 1970’s bestselling horror novel, “The Shining.”

The haunting story, a great read for Halloween, is available for checkout from the Meadows Library, as well as several travel books about Colorado.

Susie Casstevens serves as the librarian for the AH Meadows Public and High School Library. Contact Susie at 972-775-3417 ext 1061 or visit the web at