Elk Bath is a wildlife photograph by John McColgan, a fire behavior analyst working for the Alaska Fire Service division of the Bureau of Land Management.[1] It was taken on August 6, 2000,[1] on the East Fork of the Bitterroot River on the Sula Complex, Bitterroot National Forest, Montana, United States,[2] and is also sometimes known by the title, Bitterroot Forest Fire or, more vaguely, Montana Fire. When NASA featured it in its online Astronomy Picture of the Day series, it was called Fire on Earth. The image shows two Rocky Mountain elk seeking protection from a wildfire by standing in the river.[3]

Elk Bath by John McColgan.

It was one of the Time magazine Photographs of the Year 2000, and ran in its The Year in Pictures special edition in winter 2000/2001, and the web equivalent.[4]

McColgan took the photograph with a Kodak DC280 digital camera[5] while standing on a bridge crossing over the East Fork of the Bitterroot River. Several other animals were present off frame, including a deer standing below McColgan as he took the photograph.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Elk Bath". National Interagency Fire Center. Archived from the original on 6 February 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  2. ^ Stephen J. Pyne (2016). The Northern Rockies: A Fire Survey. University of Arizona Press. p. 38. ISBN 9780816533510.
  3. ^ Nemiroff, R.; Bonnell, J., eds. (2000-11-21). "Fire on Earth". Astronomy Picture of the Day. NASA. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  4. ^ "The year in pictures". Time.com. 2000. Archived from the original on January 24, 2001. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  5. ^ "Most Famous Wildfire Photograph Ever Taken!". About.com. Retrieved 2008-02-19.