I'm new to the Colorado hunting scene, but want to bring horse/mules to ride trails in August and see Elk herds. Any info for the White River National Forest area or Grand Mesa area would be greatly appreciated.
This time of year the elk are where you find them. There is no set place that you can go and see a herd of them other than the town of Estes Park. But the elk will be in the large meadows early in the morning and night and depending on the number of biteing flys and bugs they may be where it is a little bit more windy to keep them away. From what I saw on my last scouting trip a couple of weeks ago they are also scattered and not in large herds which will happen later in the year.
Both the Grand Mesa and the Flat Tops area are a great place to ride a horse so if you want to go on a pack or day trip go ahead and go to either location but don't expect to see lots of elk.
Welcome to the forum! I don't know how much help I could be to you as I attempted my first elk hunt only last year, but I did spend a week of second season rifle smack in the middle of Flat Tops (The white river side). Ask away!
Try to put your tree stand in a tree with plenty of background cover, keep the prevailing winds for that time of the year to your face, and take care of those pesky squeaks and creaks your stand may have developed while sitting in the shed. A good treestand lube can be made by heating petroleum jelly until it reaches a liquid form. Some hunters have reported success by including a cover scent in this mixture before applying it to their stands.