Looked like a bit of both, with the mid elevation guys struggling. The high elevation guys did good, the low elevation guys did pretty well, but the mid rangers not so much. Looks like there was enough water in Northwest Colorado to not be a limiting factor
I would get to where your hunting at least a day early and scout a little of everything. See if you are seeing any signs of elk. If you find some elk then I would continue to hunt that area. Elk might move but more then likely your going to find something close. I found elk to be around 9000 foot and feeding in open areas close to the aspens this year. Good luck.
Thanks everyone for your advice. Even though we came home empty handed, we had a great season. We were in north/northwestern CO in will be going back again. We saw elk every day, including some awesome 6x6 bulls that were more-than-impressive for public land. Here's my advice for you third season hunters. The bulls we saw were just a few hundred feet (elevation) below the tree line - they were not on the ridges. Some were only 1/2 mile from a main 4x4 road. They were in HEAVY timber, 75 yard or longer shots would be almost impossible. We saw more bulls than cows and the cows we did see were everywhere. We heard several bulls bugling, which I thought was weird for this late in the year, and we saw the bull - so it wasn't another hunter. Lots of cows mewing. Water was key to finding the animals. They weren't standing on the side of a pond, but generally were not far from running water when we saw them. Some hunters coming into camp late at night saw several herds of 20-30 down in the lower elevation sage brush - mostly private land. Good luck to all of you.
First of all, if you haven't gone winter backpacking, it needs to happen in the near future. It puts a very unique twist on the summer version of the activity. Yes, it's cold but it's nothing that being prepared can't remedy. Beyond it's therapeutic and recreational value, I think it is a very good tool for the big game hunter as well. I don't think that you can spend too much time getting to know the ins and outs of the area that you hunt. And there is no better way to gain experience in...