We are working on a detailed guide to Pa Elk Viewing, but until that is done I have decided to put this quick guide together. Since Benezette pa is the most obvious answer to this question I will be using Benezette as the center point for this guide and working out from there.
What time of year is best to see elk in Pa?
My absolute honest answer to this is anytime. I say this because I see elk in and around Benezette literally all year round. Sure some are slightly better and maybe more exciting, but if you want to see elk anytime here is good. That said, Sept – November tends to be the most popular times to be here.
From Sept through Nov you have: Pre-Rut bugling and sparring that bring the bulls out more, Full-Rut which intensifies the battling and bugling and Post-Rut which is similar to Pre-Rut. If I could only make a trip to see elk at one particular time of the year I would choose mid Oct – mid Nov just to catch the rutting activity and herd tending.
My second favorite time is late December through January because you get to see the elk out in the snow with the added benefit less traffic. This time of the year most people are home bundled up, but the elk are out searching for food and posing for nice photos.
When do you see elk in Pa?
The best time of day to see elk out and about are just after day break and just before dark. Elk are a lot like whitetail in that they are nocturnal feeders so you need to catch them in the early hours before they bed down for the day and in the evening when they get up to start feeding. For me personally the last few hours before dark have been my most productive. I have seen way more large bulls out at that time than any other.
Weather also messes with their feeding schedule. If a storm front is preparing to move through elk will sense that and you can see them in the hours leading up to the storm and immediately after the completion. Especially if the storm is powerful and long lasting. My motto is the longer the storm the quicker they will be up after it is over. Also, elk are like us in that hot days keep them down and in the shade. So on really hot days don’t expect to see too many out when the sun is at peak.
Where can you see elk in Pa?
The following list is of my favorite places to go and see elk and appear in the order that they pop in my head. As I mentioned we are working on a more detailed resource so I apologize if this is not as complete as it should be.
- Rt 555 from Weedville to Driftwood – Expect to see elk at any point on this trip and use caution around turns and when cresting hills because they like to stand in the road. Hot spots are Caledonia, Benezette and leading into Driftwood.
- Caledonia Pike Rd
- Medix Run Rd / Quehanna Hwy – The first few miles past the Elk Country Store have been my most productive spots. There is also a viewing area there, but I have not seen elk there. That said I don’t visit it much so don’t take that to mean there are none there.
- Rock Hill Rd – Use caution this is a single lane dirt road.
- Gray Hill Rd / Mt. Zion – I travel this road almost daily to go to St. Marys and it is a great place to see elk. Use caution the road is narrow and mostly unpaved and there are tons of camps and homes there. Also, the road is narrow and windy and you need to use caution not just for elk but for other drivers how can be coming at a quick pace.
- Winslow Hill Rd – Probably the single most popular place in Pa to see elk. It has 2 designated viewing areas and the visitor center.
- Dewey Rd is a good place to check (just off Winslow) as it has been a location of herds that exceed 140 at a time. It is hit or miss here as they elk tend to migrate around the area, but when they are here there is a lot of them.
- Porcupine Rd. - Also off of Winslow Hill Rd is a nice drive that puts you near elk too. There are several state game roads that are gated that are excellent for hiking. One even takes you right up across from a viewing area.
- Hicks Run Viewing Area – This too is hit or miss, but late evenings there have been productive for me. You get here by driving through Benezette (towards Driftwood). It is not far outside of Benezette and just past Hicks Run Rd on the left.
I hope this post helps and we are working to get a more detailed guide out as soon as we have time to complete.