Elk Jam and Simple Posole

Elk Jam. Definition:
— noun
A large number of vehicles stopping alongside a road to view elk, becoming so obstructed that they can scarcely move

— adjective

The definition is just in case you read the title and visualized me preparing something really odd using ground elk meat, pectin, sugar and cute little canning jars.

We’ve just returned from a few days in Estes Park, which is 2-1/2 hours northwest of Denver and  just a few miles from the East Entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. This time of year the population of rutting elk outnumber the population of tourists…but just barely. This is a photo of an elk jam along a roadway in Rocky Mountain National Park. As you can see, they can stop traffic and draw a crowd. Abandoning vehicles, vying for position, cameras clicking, we are officially the Elk Paparazzi.

 Remember this guy?  Less than a month ago,  I posted a photo of this male elk lazily grazing the tundra high above timberline in Rocky Mountain National Park.  He seems innocent enough, doesn’t he?

He and thousands of others have now migrated to lower montane meadows, and are are now aggressively involved in the mating season called “the rut”.  They often gather alongside roadways in the park offering us excellent close-up views of their yearly ritual…which can certainly be described as a spectacle.

It was interesting to watch this bull show off his impressive herding expertise. Proudly displaying antlers, bugling, and keeping a watchful eye on the females, he was clearly in command. If a female wandered a bit too far for his comfort level, he would lower his head and charge at her. She would calmly saunter back to rejoin the group, acting as if the drama were totally unnecessary. Mission accomplished, harem was closely gathered.


I’ve never seen it, but competition between males can occur. Wannabe studs will challenge another male for his herd resulting in a fierce match, each charging the other using their huge antlers for an intense sparring match. Park Rangers told me they had not seen any conflicts yet this season. I was secretly hoping for a front row seat for a rip-snorting conflict.


The typical bugle of the bull elk is a surprising, distinctive sound that begins deep and resonant, and becomes a high pitched squeal before ending in a succession of grunts. These calls can be heard from just before dusk to dawn.

The elk even invade the town of Estes Park. We came across this small herd grazing along the golf course. It was a little unnerving trying to navigate the walking path in route to a nearby nature preserve.  And did I mention we had two small dogs in tow, who thankfully watched in amazement without one growl or bark. We gingerly edged by the group without incident, even though signs warn they can be aggressive if approached too closely and that they “DO NOT TOLERATE DOGS”. I did watch this male charge a fast passing bicyclist. That certainly got our attention and we quickly moved on.

We stayed at a cabin complex, Sunnyside Knoll, just a few miles from the park entrance and enjoyed three days of nature watching, relaxation and scenery.  The cabin was nestled up against an impressive rock outcropping called Marmot Ridge. Nestled in the pines, it seemed like the perfect mountain retreat.

And food?  You bet! I wouldn’t think of celebrating the season without a steamy bowl of soup. I prepared a big pot of Posole at home for travel to the cabin. A perfect meal for a cold crisp mountain evening.  Let’s take a look.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Posole
Keeping the stew simple and savory, you can pass chopped tomato, onions, cilantro, jalapenos and lime wedges at the table to add an array of fresh flavors to finish.
Recipe type: Soup, Stew
  • 3 lbs pork roast
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cups water
  • Two 15-ounce cans hominy, white or yellow, drained
  • 6 Hatch Green Chile, roasted, peeled, coarse chopped
  • 2 Tbs dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 teas cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a crock pot, place the pork, garlic, onion and water. Cover and cook all day on low until the pork is very tender,
  2. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Strain off the layer of fat that his risen to the top and discard. Remove the pork from the pot and chope into course chunks.
  4. Transfer the pork, liquid, onions, chile and garlic to a large soup pot. Add oregano, cayenne, cumin and salt and pepper. Stir in the hominy, oregano and cayenne and season with salt and pepper. Add more water for desired consistency.
  5. Bring to a low simmer for about 20 minutes so flavors will marry.
  6. Ladle the posole into bowls. Pass with the cilantro, onion, jalapeño, chopped cilantro and lime wedges at the table.
  7. Serving Suggestion: Warm Flour Tortillas

I’ll leave you with this shot of Morraine Park in Fall.

Simple Posole…It’s What’s for Elk Watching in Rocky Mountain National Park.

On this day..

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  1. Nancy says

    Beautiful photos! Wish I were there…I remember the elk by our cabin several years ago in Estes Park – way cool! The posole looks great too – of course. :) Elk jam – Love it!

    • Lea Ann says

      We had Moose Jam in August. I asked the rangers about Moose on the Estes side. He told me there were 7. The rest are on the Grand Lake side. Anyway, I was then obsessed with finding ONE of those 7 the rest of the trip…along with my bear sighting obsession, it kept me busy. :)

  2. says

    First of all, congratulations on your move Lea Ann. I quickly signed up again for an email subscription. I bet I should change my link to you on my blog, come to think of it. My friend Cathy at Wives with Knives made the move several months ago. I admire you both for all of the hard work that must have been involved. Sounds a lot more complicated that wrapping a few cups and saucers in paper, putting them in a box, and calling the mover.

    Those elk are amazingly beautiful to look at, but sound very aggressive and scary too, especially with your dogs. It’s nice to see someone else travels with food they made at home. Aren’t we smart (smile). Your soup looks like a perfect ending to an exciting elk jam day. You sure live in a pretty part of the world.

    • Lea Ann says

      Thanks for the subscription and the comment Sam. Love your comparison to the cups and saucers … you bet it was alot harder. I’m still working on getting it perfect.

  3. says

    I found my way over here and sure glad I did so I could hear about your fantastic trip. The scenery and your shots of it are amazing and the soup does indeed look like the perfect dish. I could easily live out there and may want to spend a few days in the mountains when we come. I’m typing this sitting outside of our RV on a cool morning on the Cumberland Plateau near Crossville, Tn. where we’ve been since Thursday. There’s something to be said for having a harem at mating time, but I sure wouldn’t want to try and keep a whole herd of women in line the rest of the time.

    • Lea Ann says

      LOL Larry, why do you think those bull elk climb to the top of the mountain and feed above tundra in solitude the rest of the year??? You enjoy that RV. Our cabin had wireless, I really enjoyed having the service, even though we were in the wilderness.

  4. says

    It’s true…I was thinking Elk Jam!? ha ha ha. What a sight…they are so regal :) And of course, you know I want a big bowl of that posole, it sounds and looks delicious. And how much would I love staying it that cabin!

    Do you have a button where I could subscribe to your rss feed??

    • Lea Ann says

      I knew I had to clarify … us foodies have a one track mind! :) Heather, the RSS Feed is “coming soon” Hopefully today.

    • Lea Ann says

      Thanks Kirsten. I’m not sure my recipe is “real” posole … but we like this brothy version. As I said to Andrea, I made a red posole that was much more involved last year. Man was it good.

    • Lea Ann says

      I’d really like to see your recipe. Mine is just kind of a simple throw together version. I made a Red Posole last year and loved it. Probably more official than my brothy version.

  5. says

    Thanks for enabling comments! I was so ready to leave one last night it’s been hard to wait it out! I love this post. Your trip looks great. A number of years ago we stayed at some condos on the river coming up into the part entrance. It was really fun to be up there for more than a quick jaunt (which, for lucky us, it is quick). I almost jumped when seeing some of your photos hoping you have an incredible telephoto lens. Those elk look like they are about 4 feet away from you! Loved the photo with the cars and the posole especially. Was sad about the delayed color change this year. Rangers said they don’t know what is going on. Hope you are enjoying your new blog! Looks great.

    • Lea Ann says

      Along the golf course, those elk are very close. No zoom at all. Pretty dumb on our part, but there was a crowd of about 30 of us. Seemed the bicyclist was his only aggrivation. The others are close but from the car. I was a little disappointed about the trees also. There were only a few yellow leaves. Still beautiful nonetheless. Thanks Toni!

  6. says

    I was thinking preserved elk meat and thinking ewwww – LOL. Glad you got past that big guy unharmed. Can a bicycle peddle faster than an elk? Yikes.

  7. says

    Congrats on the move, Lea Ann. I don’t have the courage, but this looks great and you make it look easy!

    Yep, you fooled me. I wondered what the heck elk jam was! :)
    Great photos and good info about elks. Sounds like you got off lucky with your dogs.; they didn’t bark or anything. Smart dogs!

    The cabin is beautiful and such a setting! Your Posole looks good too….

    • Lea Ann says

      It was pretty painless Barbara. With the help from a few emails with Kathy from Wives with Knives, the courage came easier. As always, thanks for stopping by.

  8. says

    That’s why I switched to a .com too….just easier! Looks like a fantastic trip, beautiful pictures! This is the 2nd Posole I have seen today and when that happens I always consider it a sign!

  9. says

    Great pics! When we were in Estes the elk would come into the campgrounds and lick the left over food bits off the grill grates. It was amazing to be so close to critters that big.

    • Lea Ann says

      Thanks Dave. Years ago when we were ten camping, that happened to us. I went to crawl out of the tent and realized our tent was surrounded by elk. And yes they were liking the grates.

  10. says

    Gorgeous animals. I wonder what it is that they have against dogs?? Last time we drove through Yellowstone, there was a moose jam. I couldn’t believe all the crazies actually chasing after this huge moose trying to get a picture.

    • Lea Ann says

      We experienced many a Moose Jam in August on the other side of the park. And yes, people are crazy. I’m more afraid of Moose than Elk. Don’t know why.

  11. says

    I definitely thought for a minute that you had made jam out of the elk! Crazy that they get so close to people…

    That posole looks like just the comfort food I love and need! Delicious!

    • Lea Ann says

      And It’s amazing that we people get so close to them. Probably not so smart. Posole is one of my favorite soups and the first I make each Fall.

  12. says

    Congrats on your move, Lea Ann. It sounds like your transition hasn’t been too painful. And your blog looks great! I visited my son at CU Boulder in the fall when he was a student there and we drove up to Estes Park for the day. I remember seeing all the elk. What a beautiful place.

  13. says

    This is wonderful! The elk photos are amazing and I would love to be in the middle of that. I did do a double-take when I saw Elk Jam – yes, I pictured food and wrinkled up my nose at the thought. :) I’d much prefer a bowl of that posole!!

    The new digs are great! I will update my links.

      • says

        Home and a little overwhelmed – there’s nothing like being gone for nearly a month to make the job a little intense. Add in the other stuff that’s going on while trying to catch up . . . yeesh! I need soup for the comfort. 😉

  14. says

    I suddenly have the urge to move to Colorado! Love that cabin and the idea to bring posole is a great one. The elk fight is reminding me that in Spain, corridas are going to be outlawed. I much rather since elks fighting that a man kill a bull, frankly!

    • Lea Ann says

      Colorado is spectacular. I’ve never liked watching bull fights Joumana. Something very disturbing about the whole thing.

  15. says

    My parents have had a few run ins with the elk in the Smokies while hiking and doing their trail maintenance. I’ve only seen them at distance. You got some great shots!

    • Lea Ann says

      You all need to load up and head to the high country … I can guarantee you some close encounters of the elk kind.


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