Elk Country PA
Elk Country. The term conjures up images of the Great American West: majestic beasts, grazing among aspen, with soaring mountains in the background.
But in Pennsylvania, an escape to Elk Country doesn’t require a plane ticket or a long family road trip. If you’re lucky, you can catch a rare sighting of an elk east of the Mississippi right here in Northern PA, not far from home.
Where did the PA elk come from?
Although elk once roamed much of the northeast, the species was overhunted by European settlers and disappeared from Pennsylvania by the late 1860s. It was a loss for the local landscape and the local residents. So when Yellowstone National Park had an overpopulation of elk at the turn of the twentieth century, the Pennsylvania Game Commission jumped at the opportunity to bring elk back to Pennsylvania.
Since the first train car of Yellowstone elk arrived in 1913, PA has cultivated a population of 1,000+ elk that are both a source of pride for local residents and a source of economic boon for the Northern PA Wilds.
How do I catch a glimpse?
When you see or hear an elk in the wild, they’re hard to miss! A bull elk can weigh up to 1,100 pounds with antlers that can grow up to four feet in length. And their signature bugling sound can be heard from miles away.
Any visit to Elk Country should begin at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, PA. There, you can learn more about the history of elk in PA, find out where animals have recently been spotted, and get tips on how to see bulls and cows.
Then you hit the road. The “Elk Scenic Drive,” as it’s called, meanders through the region’s countryside and offers numerous viewing areas, as well as convenient opportunities to stop for a hike or sample local wine. It’s the perfect weekend activity, particularly as we all look for opportunities to explore in ways that are safe and responsible.
When should I visit?
Now! The Elk Country Visitor Center is open year-round and every season offers exciting elk viewing experiences. In the spring and summer, you may have the chance to see baby calves playing in the meadows. In the autumn, during the “rut,” you can experience bulls battling for breeding rights and making their quintessential bugling calls. And as the snow begins to fall, elk will gather in large herds, making for beautiful photo opportunities.
Elk Country may sound like a faraway destination, but it is just one more example of what makes Pennsylvania so special—the unexpected and unparalleled experiences you can enjoy just off the beaten path. It’s another reason we’re proud to #RepresentPA!
** Feeling proud of our Pennsylvania elk population? Show it off with our Symbol of Pennsylvania Elk Sticker! **