Elk Viewing Guide For Benezette, Pennsylvania

elk viewing guide for benezette

Viewing the elk in Benezette, Pennsylvania is an unbelievable joy and I’d love nothing more than to help guide your experience! At times, our home state can become commonplace as we grow apathetic towards it through the years. But, let me tell you: it is never dull or uninteresting! We just have to look and see all the beauty that surrounds us everywhere! And honestly, Autumn in Pennsylvania is pretty darn magical! Witnessing the Pennsylvania elk in rut amid the misty mornings is one of the most stellar sights. In my opinion, it’s one of the best fall getaways in the state! Now, where and how can you view the elk in rut you may wonder? Check out my guide below for some firsthand knowledge and tips!

ᑭOᔕT ᑕOᑎTEᑎTᔕ:

  • Best time to see the elk
  • Best places to view the elk
  • Where to stay
  • What to bring
  • Fun facts
  • Cool spots/hikes to check out nearby!
  • Clips I captured of the PA elk bugling
<strong>Author:</strong> Mindy Michaels, <a rel=
Author: Mindy Michaels, mindyonthemove.com

Main Photographer: Doug Michaels

My name is Mindy Rose Michaels and I am an avid adventurer and traveler.  I “work to travel” (as I like to say) and thus, live a very unconventional life. My husband, Doug, and I are freelancers in the film industry and work on various reality/doc tv shows for a multitude of networks, such as: Travel Channel, Animal Planet, NBC, Discovery, A&E, Starz, HGTV etc.  Our work keeps us constantly moving and constantly on our toes AND, when we’re not working, you best believe we’re still on the move. Always. Because we love to travel as often and as far as possible.

elk viewing guide for benezette




Best time to see the elk

The best time of year to see the elk:

The Fall Season is, without doubt, the best time to see the elk because it is when they are in rut (aka: mating season). During this time of year, you will hear the bulls (male elk) bugling to attract the cows (female elk) into their harem and to warn or challenge other nearby bulls. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll even catch two bulls fighting one another by locking antlers (rutting) to establish their dominance, protect their pride and attract a sought after female.

The best time of day to see the elk:

The elk are most active and, thus, most likely to be seen during the hours of dawn and dusk. Be prepared to wake up before sunrise to get an early start to your day full of wildlife and wonder!


Best places to view the elk

elk viewing guide for benezette

Woodring Farm Viewing Area

Coordinates: 41.3423025, -78.3602566

This is my number one spot for viewing the elk because it is the most secluded as you walk up a trail to a hilltop field encircled by the forest. The trail makes a loop (~ one mile in total) and there are various viewpoints overlooking the meadows and fields below. This place allows you to get much closer to these wild guys (always use caution) and rewards you with a more personal encounter.

Here we witnessed many elk, yards away, and heard their echoing bugles amid the crisp and frosty morning scenery. Not to mention, we only shared this spectacular show with a handful of other viewers at most. At times, we were the sole spectators. Not sure if this place is less populated by visitors because it entails hiking? Or, if it’s just a lesser known spot. Either way, do not skip over Woodring Farm Viewing Area during your explorations.

Hicks Run Viewing Area

Coordinates: 41.3611946, -78.2490847

Second to Woodring Farm, Hicks Run Viewing Area offers a unique viewing shelter (it’s perfect for uncooperative weather and it’s even handicap accessible) set upon a field known for frequently grazing elk. I’ve often seen elk bedded down in the shaded cemetery adjacent to the area’s parking lot the second I parked my car. Even more, during my most recent visit, I saw a large herd alongside route 555 right before the turn-off to Hicks Run Viewing Area. No matter where you look in this general vicinity, you’re going to see some elk (especially during the prime hours of dusk and dawn).

Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area

Coordinates: 41.3417794, -78.3691015

This beautiful vantage point overlooks acres upon acres of open meadows and fields where there are quite large herds of elk present. The only downfall? Because these fields are so vast, the elk are usually quite far away and hard to see without binoculars and/or a long lens. Nonetheless, take a seat on the bench and soak in the stunning mountain scenery of the PA Wilds while you survey the forest’s edge for meandering elk. It’s one of the most beautiful overlooks in the area (just not the best for seeing these beauties in action with your naked eye).

After spending some time atop the hill, drive down the gravely dirt road (connected to the parking lot) and wind your way through the fields down to the tree-line in attempt to get a closer look! If you’re lucky, this drive will bring you front and center to a herd or, perhaps, a bull fight!

Tip: Cellular service and data is very limited and scarce in the Benezette region.  However, visitors can utilize free wifi available at the Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area if needed.

Elk Country Visitor Center

Coordinates: 41.3231432, -78.3691780

Obviously the hottest spot for people to visit, it’s worth a stop for several reasons…

Firstly, if you walk on the well-maintained and easy-to-access trails surrounding the visitor center, you’re likely to see some elk (even herds). And secondly, you can learn a bunch of information and history regarding these lands and their inhabitants (like the elk, of course!).

In addition, you can grab some food at the food truck parked out front and/or shop for some locally made crafts, goods and apparel in the visitor center’s gift shop!

Even though this is a must visit place for first-timers, it’s not at the top of the list because of its sheer crowdedness.

Beaver Run Pond

Coordinates: 41.2612983, -78.2581050

Set upon 50,000 acres of the Quehanna Wild Area, this wildlife viewing area lies within easy walking-distance from the Quehanna Highway. Beaver Run Pond is surrounded by wetlands and fields making it not only a solid elk viewing locale, but also a fantastic bird viewing locale and more!

The Hoover Farm Viewing Area of Moshannon State Forest

Coordinates: 41.2280185, -78.1921444

This viewing blind overlooks food plots and wildlife openings maintained by the Game Commission. It draws elk from the nearby deep, dense woods for feeding (especially during dawn and dusk hours, per usual). This area has loads of potential for elk and other wildlife viewing!

The Elk Scenic Loop Drive

There are a total of 23 wildlife viewing stops along this 127-mile route! You’re unlikely to see elk at all of them, but it’s a gorgeous route all the same! Each spot provides easy visitation, parking and alternatives to viewing elk and other wildlife. You can start your drive from the east at PA Route 144 or from the west at PA Route 853.


Where to Stay

elk viewing guide for benezette

Medix Grade Road

Type of accomodation: primitive camping (Tent/RV)

Cost: FREE

This is an utterly amazing site to camp at! The sites are all spread out (very spread out) down a long, dirt/gravel road in the thicket of dense and ethereal woodlands. Though there are no restrooms (that’s what the woods are for), there are beautiful stone fire pits and picnic tables provided. I especially loved how, when you pull in to your site, you then have to walk back a little path to your tent area! This further aids in the peacefulness and seclusion that I so dearly seek during my outdoor adventures.

Please note, even though these sites are free, they do require a permit. Just go to the site here and send an e-mail inquiring for one. It’s that simple!

Utilize the very handy Campendium App to

find your ideal camp spot!

Wapiti Woods Guest Cabins

Type of accommodation: cabins of varying sizes

Cost: $`179.00/night; $1,044/week.

These cabins are adorable, rustic and so very cozy! They range in sizes, accommodating anywhere from a couple to a family of six, and their proximity to all the elk viewing areas of Benezette is unmatched.

Entire cabin hosted by Evolve Vacation Rental

Type of accommodation: AirBnB

Cost: $349/night

The ultimate place to host a group getaway this fall! Yes, it’s $349 per night BUT…this 3-acre, mountain view cabin complete with a hot-tub and grill is able to sleep up to 13 guests! So, split that 13 ways, and you’ll each only be paying approximately $27 per night. Crazy awesome deal!

Winslow Hill B&B

Type of accommodation: Bed and Breakfast

Cost: Call (814) 787-4212 for rates and availability

The top rated on TripAdvisor and located in the heart of the elk viewing country? How perfect is this place, really? Wake up to see elk roaming and to hear elk bugling from right outside your door! Elk are very often in the back yard of this picturesque, Pennsylvanian stay.

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Our home away from home this weekend <3

A post shared by Heather Ainsley-Kerr (@offieldandfeatherheather) on

Benezette Store Campground

Type of accommodation: RV/tent camping with bathroom and showers & hookups at some sites.

Cost: starting at $30 per night.

Literally at the start of the major elk viewing locations and at the base of the road leading to the Visitor Center, this campground is superb for those who want a cheap getaway under the stars but still wish to shower and have some amenities available (not quite as ‘roughing-it” but still outdoorsy).


What to bring

To be sure to have the best possible elk viewing experience, bring along the items suggested below to enhance your sight, comfort, fun and memories!

elk viewing guide for benezette

Vortex Optics Raptor 10×32 Binoculars

Binoculars are a necessity when observing elk from a distance! They’re not always close-by, yet often can be found at the far edge of the fields along the forest’s tree-line.

elk viewing guide for benezette

The North Face Furry Fleece Pullover – Women’s

Believe me when I tell you that it gets very chilly in the wee hours of the morning and evening in Pennsylvania. Thus, certainly be sure to pack a warm fleece! This stunner is on sale for $40 right now and it is the perfect, rusty orange hue for Fall! Not to mention, my North Face fleece has never failed to keep me toasty.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM Lens

An affordable and good long lens, this baby is essential in capturing close-up images of elk (as photo’d in my post).

Tech specs:

  • EF-Mount/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/4 to f/45
  • One Ultra Low Dispersion Element
  • NANO USM Autofocus System
  • Optical Image Stabilizer
  • Lens Information Display
  • Full-Time Manual Focus
  • Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm

Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera Body with Accessories Kit

You obviously want a phenomenal camera to go along with your long lens (lol). But for real, this camera is AMAZING! It was used to take all the elk photos above as well as all my most recent instagram posts.

The EOS R’s 30.3 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, coupled with its impressive DIGIC 8 image processor, work together to ramp up your photography game, delivering outstanding image quality and fast, accurate performance as Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera.” – shop.usa.canon.com

elk viewing guide for benezette

Patagonia Fjord Flannel Patchwork Scarf

Don’t forget your warm accessories such as your scarf and beanie! This scarf pairs so well with the fleece above and compliments the autumn scenery splendidly! And, of course, it’s so very warm and soft! This scarf’s durable constructions withstands wear of endless campouts and its generous length keeps you so snug in the wind!

elk viewing guide for benezette

Coal Headwear Eddie Beanie

I’m all about Fall colors and comfort! This beanie fits my noggin like a glove and is simultaneously lightweight and warm. I love the trio together in photos: this golden beanie, the plaid scarf above and the rust orange North Face fleece! Picture-perfect. Oh, and…this beanie’s recycled cotton is Eco-friendly!

elk viewing guide for benezette

Sorel Out N About Plus Conquest Boot – Women’s

You’ll clearly be out and about walking all over the PA wilds on your elk viewing adventure! Thus, it is vital to have comfortable, warm and practical footwear. But just because these babies are practical, doesn’t mean they’re not also cute and stylish! 😉

Check out these fantastic specs…

  • Waterproof construction keeps your feet dry in puddles and snow
  • Microfleece lining and 100g of insulation offer warmth in low temps
  • Faux fur and felt collars provide a luxuriously warm aesthetic
  • Removable EVA footbed cushions each step for full day comfort
  • Vulcanized rubber soles deliver solid traction on wet surfaces

elk viewing guide for benezette

MindShift Gear BackLight 18L Backpack

What an incredible camera bag with easy access and plenty of extra room for layers, snacks and the works! It’s a great size to take out on all your day adventures in Benezette!

  • Holds DSLR, 2 to 3 Lenses, and Flash
  • Large Rear Compartment for Camera Gear
  • Waist Belt for Quick Tabletop Access
  • Padded Touch-Fastened Interior Dividers
  • Front Pocket for Laptop, Tablets, etc.
  • Dual Side Pockets with Cinch Straps
  • Small Top Pocket for Accessories
  • Handle & Shoulder Harness with Connector
  • Front and Side Tripod Attachment
elk viewing guide for benezette

Rode VideoMicro Ultracompact Camera-Mount Shotgun Microphone

I attached this super compact and easy-to-use microphone to my camera the entire time I shot footage of the elk in Benezette, PA so that I could record the magnificent sounds of the elk bugling.

  • For Cameras and Portable Recorders
  • Runs on Plug-In Power
  • Simple Operation with No Controls
  • 3.5mm TRS Output Jack
  • Detachable Coiled 3.5mm Cable
  • Ultracompact and Ultralightweight
  • Furry Windshield Minimizes Wind Noise
  • Detachable Shoe/Pole Shockmount

Waterford Press Animal Tracks Guide

Bring along this waterproof pocket guide so you know what signs to look for when spotting for wildlife!

This handy, portable guide is a great source of information about the signs animals leave behind.


A few fun facts

elk viewing guide for benezette

To-date, there are around 1,400 elk roaming these lands amid the PA Wilds.

Elk are native to Pennsylvania but were all killed (totally wiped out of the area) in the 1800s by colonists. After numerous decades of PA being elk-less, they reintroduced 172 Rocky Mountain Elk in and around Elk Country in the early 1900s. Over the years, their numbers have risen and fallen until today – where they sit at around 1,400 and span over 5 counties. This is the most elk PA as had since 1860!

A bull’s antlers grow up to an inch per day as blood flows to them and can weigh up to 40 pounds. The more spread out the antlers, the more attractive the bull is to the cow. Even more, antlers can reach up to 4 feet above a bull’s head!

Elk weigh between 325 to 1100 pounds and will eat 4 to 7 kg of food daily.

Elk are often called wapiti which is a Shawnee word meaning “white rump.”

Elk can run up to 40 miles per hour, beat horses in short races, and jump up to 8 vertical feet (so watch out!).

Pennsylvania’s elk herd is the largest free-roaming elk herd east of the Mississippi River.

Elk County’s first inhabitants were presumed to be the Seneca or Cornplanter Indians.  Ruins of Indians forts have been found near Russell City in Highland Township.  Another Indian earthwork possibly could be situated in Jones Township.  The old Kittanning Indian Trial,  the most direct route from Olean, New York to Kittanning, passes through western Elk County. (found at https://www.co.elk.pa.us/index.php/home/elk-county-general-information/history)


Cool places to check out nearby!

elk viewing guide for benezette

This hidden suspension/bouncy bridge & trail (photo’d above)

Just past the Hicks Run Viewing Area (coordinates listed further above) along Route 555, there’s a little gravel road on the right. If you pull in there, you’ll discover a hidden bridge that is very fun/quite thrilling to walk across! It leads to several remote trails teeming with flora and fauna on the other side of Sinnemahoning Creek.

Hike the Elk Trail in Elk State Forest

Best hiked between April to October, this 15.8 to 26.2 mile trail (rated: moderate difficulty) is for the ultimate adventurer! It’ll take you up and down the mountains and through the valleys and forest of the PA Wilds in the heart of Elk Country. It’s quite possibly the best way to experience Autumn and elk rut in the entire state!

Trailhead coordinates: 41.322333, -78.394028

Treasure Lake

Ah, nostalgia! I use to come to this lake every autumn growing up as a child. I recall such fond memories of vibrant fall foliage, bottled root beer in the log lodge, fishing lakeside with my parents and much more! This is a charming little place. Also, a place full of some ritz and glitz (i.e. golf courses and mansions galore).

This place would make for a wonderful and relaxing kayak excursion amid the dazzling fall scenery!

The white birch grove at the Marion Brooks Natural Area

Located within the Moshannon State Forest and the Quehanna Wild Area, this grove is visually stunning and is awesome enough to be a destination of its own. This corner of the PA Wilds is utterly remote, quiet, and so very beautiful!

Click to see some downright gorgeous photos of this birch grove in the Fall!

Listen to these clips I captured of the PA Elk Bugling!

If you love wildlife spotting as much as me, check out my post below, “Best National Parks for Spotting Wildlife“!

There you have it folks: my guide to viewing elk in Benezette, PA! I truly hope this helped aid in your travel planning and inspired your Elk Country adventure! Let me know any amazing elk experiences you’ve had in the comments below. Seeing wildlife – in the wild – is one of my favorite aspects about traveling and being in the great outdoors!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, feel free to pin it to your Pinterest using any of the graphics below.

As always,

Much love and happy travels,


elk viewing guide for benezette
elk viewing guide for benezette

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