See magnificent bull elk vent aggression on car just outside Rocky Mountain National Park

Bull elk standing in shallow water
(Image credit: Getty)

A visitor to Estes Park, just outside Rocky Mountain National Park, had an exceptionally close encounter with a bull elk on Saturday, when the animal took a dislike to their vehicle and charged at it. The encounter was captured on camera by a driver a few meters behind.

In the clip, which you can watch below, the elk is showing all the typical signs of aggression, lowering its head and pawing the ground with its hooves. It starts by bluff charging the vehicle (possibly having seen its reflection in the windows), then adopts an aggressive posture and butts at it with its antlers until the driver moves off.

The video was shared by Estes Park News as a reminder to be particularly careful at this time of year, when elk are in their mating season, known as the rut. At this time the males are at their most impressive, displaying their antlers and making loud calls (known as 'bugling'). However, they are also unpredictable as they compete for female attention, and can be more aggressive than usual.

You should always stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) away from elk, and remember that feeding, touching, or wilfully disturbing any wildlife is illegal is you're visiting a National Park. 

"We ask that people help protect the elk herd by honoring the field closures to ensure that elk are not disturbed during this important breeding season," says Bill Stiver, park wildlife biologist at Rocky Mountain National Park.

"Bull elk, which can weigh nearly 1,000 pounds, are wild animals with unpredictable behavior. To help ensure your own safety, make sure you have parked in a safe location and remain close to your vehicle so that you can get inside if an elk approaches."

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.