Nightly News   |  September 30, 2013

Elk’s eerie love song captivates Yellowstone visitors

When the bull elks set up camp, a trip to Yellowstone National Park becomes filled with some of nature’s most unique sounds. NBC’s Harry Smith reports.

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>>> our final story tonight is about an event that takes place only at this time of year inside yellowstone national park . it draws american families from all over across the country. because of what's happening in washington right now, sadly -- and somewhat unbelievably, this year's show might be cancelled. the story tonight from nbc's harry smith .

>> reporter: every fall for just a week or two, you hear it -- an eerie call that echoes through the valleys and canyons of washington national park. if you're an elk, that's a love song . hearing the elk is one thing. getting a good look back here in the wilderness, not so easy. but, boy, is it worth it. it's mating season up here and the bugling bulls are letting other males know they should not even think about disturbing their h their harems.

>> eerie at first if you don't know what it is. being from los angeles , we don't hear that often. it was very cool. fascinating to see that.

>> reporter: at park headquarters, a herd has set up camp which makes elk viewing easy. beware the amped up bull el ings says the ranger.

>> we have had people injured before. we have had a lot of cars damaged. you have to watch when you exit a building. look both ways so you don't step in front of a bull el ing.

>> reporter: even with summer family traffic long gone, autumn is a busy season. rooms are hard to come by. for julie mckin non, her trip to yellowstone is an annual ritual. for her friend martha, it's her first time.

>> when you hear the el ik bugle, what do you think?

>> it's like the spirit of the forest . it echoes through the trees.

>> reporter: what does it mean to see these animals this close.

>> it puts you back in touch with nature. it's just amazing.

>> reporter: a visit to yellowstone affirms our belief in america as a special place. if the government shuts down, so will the park. and that's a shame. harry smith , nbc news, yellowstone national park .