Clueless campers risk an antler to the face antagonizing elk at Grand Canyon

Bull elk bugling in the fall
(Image credit: Getty)

A group of campers narrowly avoided serious harm at a picnic spot in Grand Canyon National Park this week when they failed to give a bull elk space during the rut. All members of the group were out of their vehicles, and one recorded the animal making bluff charges at a man who refused to back away.

The people appear to have a trailer unhitched from a car, so it's likely that they were already outside when the elk approached, but getting back inside would have been much wiser. Although usually timid around humans, elk are large and powerful animals, and males are particularly unpredictable and territorial in late summer and early fall as they compete for dominance and the attention of females.

In the video, which you can watch below, one member of the group comments that a cow elk is nearby, which explains the bull's behavior.

Elk live in the forests on the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park, but aren't well adapted to the arid climate, and often rely on man-made sources of water, such as puddles under water bottle filling stations. You may therefore be more likely to encounter them at a campsite than you would be in more temperate parts of the US.

"Elk are one of the most dangerous animals in Grand Canyon National Park," says the National Park Service. "They are not usually aggressive, but will defend themselves if people get too close. Please do not approach elk, and view them from at least 100 feet (30m)."

For more advice, see our guide how to enjoy elk rutting season safely.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.