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Elk County, Pennsylvania


A nice escape from the summer heat is a trip to Elk County Pennsylvania which is located in north central Pennsylvania. There are many B&B’s, lodges, motels, rental cabins and campgrounds throughout the county. The nearest major highway is Interstate 80 with many smaller highways leading a short distance north to places in the county. The nearest large city exit is at DuBois (pronounced Doo-Boyz). Elk County is embedded in portions of State Gamelands, the Allegheny National Forest and the Moshannon State Forest.

The main attraction is viewing of the majestic wild elk herds. The best places to view the herds are near the town of Benezette, the “Elk Capital of Pennsylvania”, near the St. Mary’s Airport, and along the 127-mile Elk Scenic Drive. The prime viewing season is the Fall where herds are easily visible in open areas.

According to a brochure, the very best viewing location is around the Benezette Elk Country Visitor Center along Route 555 which is also the Elk Scenic Drive or the Winslow Hill Viewing Area. There are numerous lookout blinds along the scenic road for easy viewing including Hicks Run where there is handicap accessible viewing blind with easy parking.

The elk herd now numbers about 1,400 and best viewing times are a few hours after dawn or before dusk. Elk once were numerous throughout Pennsylvania, but were hunted to extinction by 1867 by early migrating immigrants. However, the Pennsylvania Game Commission introduced Rocky Mountain Elk into the area from the Yellowstone National Park during the early 1900’s. Benezette is home to the largest free-roaming elk herd east of the Rockies.

When not out viewing wild elk herds, there are plenty of other activities and attractions in Elk County such as shops, wineries and breweries. Ridgeway, the county seat was founded in the 1800’s and where the grandeur of the Victorian homes and mansions along Millionaires Row have been well preserved.

St. Mary’s has a strong German Catholic heritage where the Straub family have been brewing downtown since 1872. It has been recognized as an American Legacy Brewery and you can come by for a meal or a taste from their “Eternal Tap”. St. Mary’s Municipal Airport hosts once-a-month drag races and each August holds its annual American Spirit Aviation Festival and the Elk County Cruisers car show with hundreds of cars. The car show also includes food and craft vendors, live music, and helicopter and airplane rides.

All photos are courtesy of my brother Jim and his wife Gail who live in Punxsutawney and visit Elk County regularly.

To get more information, check out www.VisitPaGo.comBenezett StoreCabinsElk HerdElkEntrance GateHicks RunInfo SignageRutn Bugle DistilleryViewing Area LookoutVisitors Center GateVolunteers CottageWinery StoreWinslow Hill Viewing Area


Images (13)
  • Benezett Store
  • Cabins
  • Elk Herd
  • Elk
  • Entrance Gate
  • Hicks Run
  • Info Signage
  • Rutn Bugle Distillery
  • Viewing Area Lookout
  • Visitors Center Gate
  • Volunteers Cottage
  • Winery Store
  • Winslow Hill Viewing Area

George G

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