What sort of elk hunt are you looking for? My middle son, nephew, and I just returned today from a four-day cow hunt with White Cloud Outfitters in Idaho. We shot three cows yesterday, and had a great hunt. They also have a great bull hunt, but the tags are very tough to draw. If you do, you have a good chance of taking a mature bull. I'd suspect your chances of a really big bull are better on private land hunts in New Mexico, but the price would be a lot higher too.
I went deer hunting with White Cloud about three weeks ago, and shot a 28" buck the second day. I saw several about the same size during the cow hunt this week. If you can draw the elk tag, the combo deer/elk hunt would be hard to beat. They had a 13 year old girl this fall take a 6x6 elk, a 4x4 buck, and a buck antelope on the same hunt.
Have hunted elk out West 4 past 20+ years archery. Check out Hubbard Creek Outfitters in Hotchkiss Colorado. Larry and Janet do a fantastic job. Lots ot elk, best food ever over wood burning stove, and great accomodations. Not sure what u r looking 4 but this is a start. You are doing the correct thing which is homework. Make sure before you decide to ask for references. Many people go on a trip like this and it becomes the trip from hell. Dont let that happen. Larry offers Archery, muzzleloader, and rifle hunts. Good luck and welcome to the world of Elk Hunting!
Do you want to use rifle, bow, or muzzleloader? What kind of weather could you contend with? Consider terrain, as your physical conditioning will definitely come into play in the high altitude, mountain areas. How much do you want to spend? Private area hunts can be quite costly. Depending on where you go, you might have to contend with "license drawings", where you might not get a license for several years. There are many, many options to consider. I've done over a dozen archery hunts in Colorado in the last 12 years & have a special outfitter I exclusively use. PM me if you want additional info.