(Above photo of a Bull Elk by Todd Plank)
Seeing a majestic bull elk with his impressive backward sweeping antlers for the first time is an extraordinary event and something you’ll never forget.
Elk, deer, and most wildlife are most active right after dawn and just before dusk as they move from bedding areas in sheltered woodlands into more open feeding areas.
When you’re looking for elk you need to pay attention to everything. Keep an eye out for what the Shawnee call elk, wapiti, which literally means white rump. As a rule, when you see people looking in the same direction with cameras and binoculars in-hand, you can figure elk are nearby.
Love is in the air during fall, the breeding season for elk. Hearing the bugle and belly grunts of a bull as he defends his harem from other intruding bulls is very exciting.
Elk Country Visitor Center
The Keystone Elk Country Alliance manages this stunningly beautiful conservation and education center in Benezette. The center has touch screen displays, a 4-D sensory-surround theater, wildlife displays, wild elk viewing blinds, a panoramic mountain overlook, horse drawn wagon and sleigh rides, plus walking paths. The meadows around the center attract wildlife including elk, deer, and wild turkey.
Each August the annual PA Great Outdoors Elk Expo is held on the grounds with two days of family fun featuring live music, artists, crafts, education, and outdoor industry vendors. Call (814) 787-5167 or visit ElkCountryVisitorCenter.com for more information and hours.
Elk Scenic Drive
You can scout for elk along the Elk Scenic Drive, a 127-mile route through the region. Twenty-three viewing sites along the drive offer safe and easy elk watching. For more information on the Elk Scenic Drive, see our website VisitPAGO.com.
(Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning State Park photo by Curt Weinhold)
Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning State Park
Sinnemahoning State Park is home to a growing elk herd, as well as bald eagles, coyotes, bobcats, black bear, river otter, whitetail deer, and lots more wonderful wildlife. The park features an eco-friendly Wildlife Center where visitors can learn about wildlife watching opportunities and photography, conservation history and stewardship practices, and ideas for exploring the region. The center also has interpretive exhibit galleries and an artisan gallery.
Where Eagles Fly
Bald eagles and ospreys are frequent sights on George B. Stevenson Reservoir at
Sinnemahoning State Park. Since 2000, a pair of eagles have set up year-round residence. Pontoon boat tours of the lake and bald eagle watching are offered during the summer.
Bald eagles are often seen along the Allegheny River in Foxburg and Tionesta, and at Buzzard Swamp near Marienville. Other great places to see eagles are at Brady’s Bend in southern Clarion County at the scenic overlook high above the Allegheny River and along the Clarion River. River Otters can be seen along the banks of the Allegheny and Clarion Rivers too.
For the Birds
From warblers twittering in the hedges to ruffed grouse drumming on fallen trees, there is a lot for bird-lovers to enjoy. The region has ducks, geese and swans, as well as cliff swallows, indigo buntings, owls, hawks, hummingbirds, vultures, woodpeckers and wild turkeys.
The National Audubon Society has designated Cook Forest State Park as an important birding area.
Visit our website VisitPAGO.com for detailed descriptions of the best birding sites throughout our five-county area or call our visitors bureau at (814) 849-5197.
(Above photo of Rusty “The Deer Lady” at the Double Diamond Deer Ranch)
Punxsutawney — one of the most famous small towns in America thanks to a furry little guy named Punxsutawney Phil. Every February 2, Groundhog Day, thousands of people gather to witness Phil’s prediction of more winter or early spring. During the summer months, you can stop by Phil’s Burrow, where he lives with his wife Phyllis. For more information visit Punxsutawney.com.
Other popular places to see the animals are the Double Diamond Deer Ranch, Farmer’s Inn and Swift Safariland. The Double Diamond Deer Ranch in Cook Forest gives visitors a chance to get up close and personal with world class trophy whitetails. Visitors can bottle feed fawns during summer and give the adult treats. The Farmer’s Inn in near Sigel has a petting zoo and a wide array of exotic and domestic animal exhibits. Swift Safariland at Long Shot Ammo & Arms near New Bethlehem features 100 trophy game mounts from around the world including many African animals.
Find information to plan your trip to the PA Great Outdoors region online at VisitPAGO.com or call (814) 849-5197.