We had the opportunity today to get a tour around the new Elk Country Visitor Center on Winslow Hill in Benezette today and all in all we were pretty impressed. It has all the bells and whistles you would expect in a nature based tourist stop like stuffed game animals, interactive exhibits, a ‘Story Theatre’ and of course a gift shop.
The building itself, although impressive, is not the best feature of the Elk Country Visitor Center. The expansive elk viewing areas that get you nearly face to face with the elk are what make it worth a trip up there. There are currently two designated viewing stations, however the elk are visible from the wood lines surrounding the majority of the complex.
Below are some photos we took of the Elk Country Visitor Center complex starting with the building and leading into the grounds.
Western Side View:
From Behind The Center: – When we were there turkey were everywhere behind the center. They chased them off, but they came right back 10 minutes later.
I got the pleasure of being the 3rd official visitor to step in the building and my initial response was one of pause. It was a lovely building but I remember thinking ‘Where are the elk?’ When you enter you are greeted by the giant fireplace pictured below.
A quick turn of my head to the left and I see the gift shop (below) but still no elk.
Both the entrance and gift shop are lovely, but I am most interested in how they represented the elk here. So I shuffle on around the fireplace and that is where I found exactly what I was looking for. Not only is there a nice bull, but a cow and calf as well. If you will look in the background of the image below you will see interactive kiosks. These are not all elk specific but are very interesting to use. (As a side note you have to ‘Double Tap’ some screens to advance the program.)
There are other locations in the building including the ‘Story Theater’ that are not pictured here, but due to the layout of the building I found it difficult to take photos that did them justice. Now lets get to what is, in my opinion, the most important part of the complex, the grounds. Below is an elk that greeted me in the primary viewing field when I took a sneak peek yesterday (Wednesday). This is the viewing area that is immediately to your left when you park and are facing the visitor center building.
The photo below is the viewing station that overlooks the field pictured above. If you notice it is in a wooded area set only a few feet back from the field. This wooded area runs the entire length of the field and as of now there are no signs restricting you from entering there. It gives you a chance to get a little closer to the action while still remaining slightly hidden from the elk’s view.
From here I headed behind the visitor center to the trail system that winds its way back to another viewing station. Along my way back I noticed several trees that were ‘rubbed’ by elk as well as a small flock of turkey. The photos below first show the trail and then the viewing station.
Overall my trip to the Elk Country Visitor Center was certainly worth the time. I was not blown away by the actual ‘Visitor Center’, but I have to admit I always find tourist type centers to be a bit campy. That said it is a fine building with many interesting and attention capturing features and certainly worth a peek inside.
The complex grounds on the other hand are a must see. I toured the property two times, one Wednesday and again Today and both times I saw elk. Yesterday I saw around 16 elk of which 1 was the mature bull pictured above. After talking with a few other guests I learned that shortly after I left Wednesday 4 more mature bulls showed up two of which fought for about 5 minutes a few feet away from the viewing station.
My final memory of the Elk Country Visitor Center is pictured below. As I was leaving guess what I saw? Yep, and elk.
Elk Country Visitor Center Address
Elk Country Visitor Center, 134 Homestead Drive, Benezette, PA 15821
GPS Address For The Visitor Center — > 950 Winslow Hill Road, Benezette, PA 15821