Elk Hunting in Colorado GMU 47 - Eagle and Pitkin Counties

Early seasons find elk anywhere from 7500ft to above timberline. With increased hunting pressure and snow, herds tend to move to remote areas or private lands - away from roads and hunters.

GMU 47 - Eagle and Pitkin Counties


Ease of Drawing
Trophy Potential
Public Access
Ease of Terrain
Room to Breathe
Ease of Effort

Access Notes

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Bounded on N by Fryingpan River and Ivanhoe Creek; on E by the Continental Divide; on S by County Highway 82; on W by Roaring Fork River.

About 40% of the area is wilderness (Hunter-Fryingpan, Maroon Bells, Raggeds, Collegiate Peaks) and vehicles are not allowed. These rugged areas offer increased hunting success, but require horseback/packin camps. Hunting pressure is moderate.


Eagle, Pitkin


294 Square Miles (187,948 Acres)

Land Ownership

10% Private, 90% Public, 89% USFS, 2% BLM, 1% Other


39.2443, -106.7587


There are 7 hospitals, 20 hotels, 20 campgrounds, and 7 grocery stores within a 20 mile radius.

Elk Notes

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Early seasons find elk anywhere from 7500ft to above timberline. With increased hunting pressure and snow, herds tend to move to remote areas or private lands - away from roads and hunters. The wilderness areas are a good bet for success but hunters must hike or horseback as motorized travel is prohibited. Try Snowmass Creek, Conundrum Creek, Capitol Creek, Avalanche Creek, Difficult Creek, McFarland Creek, Maroon Creek, Thompson Creek, Basalt Mountain, Four-mile, the Marble area, and the upper Frying Pan drainages.

Kobey Park and Sloans Peak are good but deep snow and bad roads should be expected, especially later in the seasons

HuntScore Tip

Public land and private land percentages can sometime be misleading. A unit may have 80% public land, but a particluar species may only occupy 20% on the entire area. And that 20% species distribution may lie 100% within private lands. Does that sound confusing? Just remember that there are always exceptions to the rule, and land ownership is just one piece of the puzzle.

Management Plan

Elk Management Plan

State Agency Website

Visit Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Other Species in Unit

Deer, Shiras Moose, Black Bear, Mountain Lion, Turkey,

Photos and Terrain Notes

This area encompasses the Roaring Fork, Frying Pan and Crystal River drainages. The lower elevations (6500ft) are primarily developed or agricultural. Timberline is around 11,500ft and there are 14,000ft peaks in the Wilderness Areas. Be prepared for daytime highs of 75F dropping to 20F at night.

Snow can exceed several feet in the higher elevations and moisture can make roads dangerous or impassible. 4WD is a necessity. Vegetation types in this unit are largely determined by elevation and aspect (Figure 5). The mountain peaks above approximately 11,600 feet contain mostly bare rock or alpine communities.

Spruce-fir grows mostly between the elevations of 8,000 and 11,600 ft. Aspen and aspen-conifer mixes dominate the slopes from 7,000 to 8,500 feet. Mountain shrubs show up on lower slopes near 7,000 feet. piñon-juniper covers the lower foothills, and sagebrush parks appear on the more level sites as elevation drops.

Riparian vegetation runs along the creeks and rivers. Elk prefer a diversity of vegetation types in close proximity to cover and forage.

The vegetation in this DAU can be categorized into five main groups: cropland, riparian, rangeland, forest land, and alpine.

Cropland is found in the valleys at the low elevations and is mostly hay grounds of timothy, orchard grass, wheat-grasses, and alfalfa.

Much of this habitat type has been lost due to land development in the Roaring Fork and Eagle River Valleys. Some of the better cropland areas occur in the Spring Valley, Gypsum Creek and Brush Creek areas. Riparian vegetation is found along the major creeks and rivers. This community supports the greatest number and diversity of plant and animal species.

Cover types range from sprucefir, blue spruce, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, aspen, narrowleaf cottonwood, and various species of willow. Some of the largest riparian areas occur along the Roaring Fork and Eagle Rivers. Rangelands consist of sagebrush, mountain shrubs, Gambel's oak, and grassland communities. Sagebrush is the most common land cover at the lower elevations.

Rabbit brush, western and slender wheatgrass, and native clovers commonly grow with the sagebrush. Mountain shrubs include serviceberry, snowberry, mountain mahogany, and Gambelfts oak. The shrublandsft grasses, forbs and browse provide an important forage source for elk in the winter, spring and fall transition months. Grasslands occur on the more level sites in forested areas (large bunchgrasses such as Thurber's fescue, wildrye, needlegrass, and broome) and in the alpine areas (Idaho and Thurber's fescue, Sandberg bluegrass, blue bunch wheatgrass mixed with forbs).

Forest communities fall into 5 major groups: piñon-juniper, aspen and aspen-conifer mix, Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, and spruce-fir. piñon-juniper covers the foothills. They provide good thermal and escape cover but poor forage. This type is well represented on the lower elevations just south of the Eagle River.

Aspen and aspen-conifer mixes occupy the middle elevations. The understory consists of emerging conifers (where aspen is not the climax species), lush grasses and forbs, and some shrubs. This community provides important cover and summer forage areas for elk. Some of the larger aspen stands are located in the Beaver Creek and Cottonwood Pass area.

Douglas fir shares the middle elevation zone mostly on the moister sites on north facing aspects, but is much less represented than the aspen ecosystems. It is a long-lived species valued for wildlife habitat diversity, scenic value, and big game cover. Lodgepole pine grows in even aged stands generally above the aspen and below the spruce-fir. In mature stands, the dense overstory limits the growth of understory forage, but provides good cover.

This type is well represented in the middle elevations along the Frying Pan River and in the Vail area. Throughout portions of the DAU, the lodgepole stands have been infected by pine bark beetle. There will be a significant ecosystem-wide change that occurs when the infected trees die and are harvested or simply fall to the ground. The overstory will be reduced and there will be a conversion to grass and forb type vegetation.

Spruce-fir (Engelmann Spruce, Subalpine Fir) dominates the higher elevations up to tree line. This habitat provides excellent summer cover and forage site for elk. This is the most common forest type in the Holy Cross and HunterFrying Pan Wilderness areas. Alpine sites occur in the high mountain peaks and basins.

Grasses, sedges, and numerous forbs are present. Short willows grow in moister areas. These sites provide excellent summer forage areas and a place for elk to avoid the pesky insects of summer.

Elk Drawing Stats (2018)

Total Quota
Licenses Drawn
Licenses Surplus
Resident Quota
Nonresident Quota
Landowner Quota
Youth Quota
Average Draw Odds
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HuntScore Tip: If you have not held a big game, small game, annual fishing or combo license in the previous year when applying for a preference point, you will be charged a preference point fee of $30 or $40 based on species and residency.

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