Hiker tries to snap close-up photos of elk at Grand Canyon National Park – it doesn't go too well

Cow elk at Grand Canyon National Park, USA
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A hiker got a nasty surprise after trying to snap close-up photos of a cow elk at Grand Canyon National Park recently. In a video shared online this week, the woman can be seen approaching the animal near a parking lot, and being quickly sent packing as it made a bluff charge to drive her back.

The video, which was shot by ultra runner and hiking guide Andrew Tyler, was shared last week via Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks, which calls out bad behavior at sites of natural beauty in the US and around the world.

Other incidents at the Grand Canyon have included people holding a singalong (complete with ukulele) right on the rim, a family snapping group photos inches from the edge, and a woman nearly kicking an elk in the face while posing for a picture.

According to Park Rangers, elk around the Grand Canyon spend a lot of time looking for water near people, and have lost their natural wariness around humans. The animals are not native to Arizona and are not adapted to the hot, dry climate, so they seek out water sources like puddles under bottle filling stations. However, it's important to remember that they are still wild animals.

"Elk are one of the most dangerous animals in Grand Canyon National Park," says the National Park Service (NPS). "They are not usually aggressive, but will defend themselves if people get too close."

It's not clear from the video, but it's possible that the cow may be showing particularly combative behavior to protect a nearby calf. Elk usually prefer to avoid close encounters with people, but females can be unpredictable and more likely to attack when guarding their young in the spring, while males are more likely to become aggressive during the mating season (known as the rut) in late summer and early fall.

If you're planning a vacation later this year, our guide how to enjoy elk rutting season safely will help you make the most of the experience while staying safe.

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.