Watch clueless hikers get way too close to bull elk and his harem at Estes Park

Elk in field
(Image credit: Getty)

A group of hikers got on the wrong side of a bull elk recently when visiting Estes Park, near Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. In a video shot by another visitor, the large male can be seen sitting in a field beside a group of females (his harem) when the tourists hike past within a few feet. He eventually becomes aggressive and makes a bluff charge towards the final hiker to scare them away.

Although usually docile, elk are powerful animals and particularly unpredictable during their mating season, known as the rut, which takes place in late summer and early fall. During this time, males will gather a harm of females, and guard them fiercely from potential rivals.

The video, which you can watch below, was shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which highlights foolish behavior at US National Parks and other sites of natural beauty – often involving wildlife.

Estes Park is well known for its large population of elk, and even holds an annual event to celebrate the animals. Elk Fest 2022 took place last weekend (October 1 and 2), with food, a 5k race, and bugling contests. However, visitors are reminded to give the animals plenty of space.

"Always keep a safe distance, especially from the males (bulls), which can be aggressive as they defend their females (cows) from other bulls at this time of year," warns tourism site Visit Estes Park. "Give them room – use your zoom!"

The National Park Service advises staying at least 25 yards (23 meters) from elk at all times. If you accidentally stray too close, watch out for warning signs like head-tossing and pawing the ground, which indicate the animal is distressed, and be prepared to take cover. 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.