Elk Country with the Kids

The experience of seeing and hearing a bull elk bugling at dawn is one you won’t forget anytime soon. Photo by Jeff Orzechowski.

The Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region is very proud of its wild elk herd, so we named Elk County in its honor. Take a trip to “The Official Elk Capital of Pennsylvania,” Benezette, in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Elk Country. Roughly 1,000 of these awe-inspiring animals wander the mountains and valleys here, and seeing them in the wild is an experience you won’t forget.

You’ll want to book a local place to stay so you can wake up early, as the elk are most active just after dawn and again just before dusk. Start your day by heading toward one of designated elk viewing areas, like Winslow Hill, to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. During the spring and summer, you may catch a glimpse of baby calves with their mamas, and during the fall, you might see bulls fighting to take over each other’s harems of cows during the rut, or mating season.

Once the sun has risen and the elk have begun to take shelter from the day, pop in to one of the area’s friendly restaurants for a hearty breakfast. The Benezett Restaurant opens each day at 7 a.m., and the Weedville Hotel serves breakfast Monday through Saturday starting at 6 a.m.

Two guests at the Elk Country Visitor Center check how much they weigh compared to elk at different stages of life.

Once you’ve eaten your fill, make your way Elk Country Visitor Center, where you can learn all about this larger-than-life animal in the center’s 4D theater and through its many kid-friendly displays. We won’t divulge the secret, but take note that “4D” means that the theater experience will engage more than just your senses of sight and hearing! Sign up in advance for a horse-drawn wagon ride, which run from late May to late October, and take in more of Elk Country than you can experience from inside your car.

Afterward, stretch your legs on the interpretive hiking trail at Woodring Farm, which runs for ¾ mile and encircles more than 80 acres of prime elk-viewing habitat as well as a scenic overlook.

By now your herd will be hungry again, so round them up and enjoy lunch at one of the other tasty restaurants in the Benezette area, such as the popular Benezette Hotel Restaurant, Medix Hotel Restaurant, or Old Bull Café.

During the afternoon, spend some time driving around town and on Elk Scenic Drive looking for more wildlife, and get out to enjoy some of the area’s other attractions. Table Run Falls lies within the Quehanna Wild Area, and it’s widely considered one of Pennsylvania’s most scenic waterfalls. Head over to The Cross near Mt. Zion Historical Park, which offers a spectacular view of the valley. Check out some of the local shops, and get back to one of the designated elk viewing blinds at Winslow Hill, Dents Run, or Hicks Run by dusk for a few last looks at the elk before night falls.

by VisitPAGO
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