Curious elk joins customers browsing beef jerky store in Estes Park

Close-up of cow elk
(Image credit: Getty)

Customers at a jerky store in Estes Park, Colorado, were surprised to find a cow elk browsing the shelves alongside them this week. Beef Jerky Experience caters to hikers shopping for snacks before exploring nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, but usually only those with two legs.

Staff at the store (which sells over 100 varieties of jerky, including elk), shared a video of the animal wandering among the shelves on Facebook, remarking that even elk love free samples.

As Estes Park News reports, officers from the local police department soon arrived on the scene, and managed to gently coax the inquisitive animal out of the store without panicking her.

Estes Park often serves as a base for people visiting the Rocky Mountains, but is also a popular tourist destination in its own right thanks to its huge elk population. The animals can be found throughout the pretty mountain town, and about 2,400 are estimated to live in Estes Valley.

It's not unusual for the animals to find their way into local businesses. Earlier this month a volunteer at a local used book store spotted an elk browsing the shelves.

"Thank you to our volunteer managers of the day who kept our guests safe while also making sure that Estes Park’s wildlife is unharmed," said Cliffhanger Used Books. "This cow elk visited the store many times over the last week to enjoy our garden."

The following day, another cow wandered into the loading bay at Estes Park Brewery, where she was seen strolling between pallets of beer.

Local businesses take such encounters in their stride, but people visiting Estes Park are warned to take care around wildlife. Elk may seem calm, but they are wild animals and can become aggressive and unpredictable.

"Remember, even the animals you see in town and near people are wild and will defend themselves if they feel threatened," says official visitor information site Visit Estes Park. "Being knowledgeable about the wildlife, their behaviors and habitats will help in knowing where to go, when to be on alert and when to adjust your behavior to ensure a peaceful, fun experience for all."

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.