Best Spots for Elk Watching in PA

What’s one of the most popular reasons people visit Pennsylvania parks in the fall and winter? Witnessing the beauty of the leaves changing colors is high on the list. Sledding down PA’s many rolling hills is another. Taking a nice walk on a crisp morning is pretty popular, too. However, we’re certain that one of the most rewarding fall/winter activities is also one of the most overlooked by many: Elk watching.

Starting in late September, areas in Cameron, Clinton, Clearfield, Potter, and Elk counties, the elk population takes center stage. That’s the time of the year when elk activities (called “the rut”) such as antler sparing contests and distinct calls begin. These are just a few of the many mating season rituals the elks perform and it’s impressive.

If you’re interested in witnessing these majestic animals in all of their glory, then these are some of the prime Pennsylvania elk watching spots to visit this fall and winter.

Dent’s Run

The most popular elk watching location in the state, Dent’s Run Elk Viewing Area, is maintained by the PA Game Commission. In addition to four fields for unobstructed views of elk roaming, grazing on oats, wheat and clover, and activity, Dent’s Run also features a wooded area where elk freely roam. The game commission also hosts elk history presentations at the on-site amphitheatre. Dent’s Run also features plenty of helpful accommodations such as handicap-accessible parking, park benches and bathrooms.

Elk Country Visitor Center

Another popular spot for elk watching, this center is often included on many of the state’s “Best Things to Do in the Fall” lists. And there are many reasons why. In addition to the many opportunities to see elk in their natural habitat, the Elk Country Visitor Center also showcases revolving exhibits and a state-of-the-art immersive 4D theater that screens movies about these majestic creatures. Operated by the Keystone Elk Country Alliance, who are dedicated to elk conservation, the center also offers elk viewing tips, horse-drawn wagon rides, and a wonderful gift shop.

Quehanna Trail

This 75-mile trail, part of the Quehanna Wild Area that passes through the Moshannon and Elk State Forests, connects hikers and backpackers to some of the state’s most breathtaking natural wonders. Here, visitors can enjoy the beauty of natural streams, black cherry trees, savannas and, of course, herds of regal elk.

Hicks Run

Located in Driftwood, PA near a popular elk foraging location, the Hicks Run Elk Viewing Area features a covered blind. This makes it an ideal spot for elk watching in rainy or misty weather. The handicap-accessible blind not only keeps visitors sheltered from nature’s elements, it also acts as a buffer between visitors and the elk. Outside of elk watching season, this spot is also ideal for fall foliage and year-round photography opportunities.

These are just a few of the many fine viewing destinations in Pennsylvania’s elk country. No matter which spot you choose, please be sure to follow all park and viewing area rules and regulations. PA parks wants all visitors to enjoy their elk watching activities but they also want everyone to be safe, too. All rules against feeding and approaching elk are not only in place to protect these magnificent animals – they’re also present to protect the public. Be safe and have a fun time this fall!