50 Best Pennsylvania Elk Photos

2
478
Three bull elk in Clearfield County.
Three bull elk in Clearfield County.

Pennsylvania is home to the largest free roaming elk herd in the northeast United States, and visiting Pennsylvania Elk Country to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures has become an annual tradition for many people.

Elk in Potter County Pennsylvania.
Elk in Potter County Pennsylvania.

Hunted to extinction in Pennsylvania in the late 1860s, they were reintroduced to the state between 1913 and 1926.

A banded elk in Clinton County.
A banded elk in Clinton County.

The Pennsylvania elk herd is now estimated to number around 1,400, and is scattered throughout Elk, Potter, Cameron, Clearfield, Clinton, and Centre counties.

Elk in the Quehanna Wild Area during the winter.
Elk in the Quehanna Wild Area during the winter.

In putting together my extensive guide to the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette (the unofficial “Elk Capitol of PA”), I quickly realized I had FAR more elk photos from my visits over the past decade or so than I could use for any single article.

So I thought – why not put 50 or so of my FAVORITE Pennsylvania elk photos all together in one place, for folks to enjoy?

Elk bugling at sunset at the Visitor Center in Beezette.
Elk bugling at sunset at the Visitor Center in Beezette.

Who knows – perhaps some of you will become inspired enough after viewing them to put a trip to Pennsylvania Elk Country on your OWN PA Bucket List!

And if your ARE interested in checking out the elk herd live and in-person, you’ll want to read my write-up “The 15 Best Elk Viewing Destinations in Pennsylvania”, as almost every photo in the gallery that follows was taken at one of those 15 locations.

A member of the Benezette elk herd.
A member of the Benezette elk herd.

Springtime PA Elk Photos

Bull elk shed their antlers every year (usually February/March), and in the late spring and early summer as those antler regrow, they are covered in “velvet”, which makes the antlers appear even larger.

Bull elk in velvet along the Chuck Keiper Trail in Centre County.
Bull elk in velvet along the Chuck Keiper Trail in Centre County.

Here are a few more images of elk bulls in the velvet stage – locations are noted in the photo captions.

Elk deep in the forest in Clinton County.
Elk deep in the forest in Clinton County.
An elk in velvet in the Sproul State Forest.
An elk in velvet in the Sproul State Forest.

Late Summer PA Elk Photos

By late summer the antlers are fully regrown, the velvet has been rubbed off, and the elk are typically visible around dawn and dusk, often around the “food plots” planted specifically for the benefit of wildlife.

Elk as dawn breaks over Bucktail Overlook in Cameron County.
Elk as dawn breaks over Bucktail Overlook in Cameron County.

One of my favorite food plots to visit is at Bucktail Overlook in Cameron County, because even if there are no elk present, the views are still spectacular!

Bull elk at the "Top of the World" in Cameron County Pennsylvania.
Bull elk at the “Top of the World” in Cameron County Pennsylvania.

One visit here, and you’ll know why this place is sometimes referred to locally as the “Top of the World”.

Elk silhouetted against the fog on Mason Hill in Cameron County.
Elk silhouetted against the fog on Mason Hill in Cameron County.


Autumn PA Elk Photos

The crisp, cool air of autumn ushers in fall foliage and the start of the PA elk rut (mating season).

Elk on an autumn evening near Benezette.
Elk on an autumn evening near Benezette.

This is also the busiest time for tourists to visit PA Elk Country!

If you’ve never been to the PA Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, you need to see it at least once in your life.

Entrance to the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.
Entrance to the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.

Not only is it a terrific place to learn all about elk – it’s also a great place to see wild elk roaming the 3 food plots / viewing areas on the grounds of the Visitor Center.

Elk herd at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette.
Elk herd at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette.

The sound of bull elk bugling as they challenge other bulls is something you won’t soon forget!

Elk bugling in Benezette.
Elk bugling in Benezette.

Here are a few more photos of elk during the rut from in and around Benezette.

The elk rut in full swing at the Elk Country Visitor Center.
The elk rut in full swing at the Elk Country Visitor Center.
Sunset glow illuminating the Elk Country Visitor Center.
Sunset glow illuminating the Elk Country Visitor Center.
Autumn in Elk County PA.
Autumn in Elk County PA.
Food plot at the Elk Country Visitor Center.
Food plot at the Elk Country Visitor Center.
Elk in the Quehanna Wild Area.
Part of the PA elk herd in the Quehanna Wild Area.

Late Fall PA Elk Photos

As the fall foliage season comes to an end and the tourist season wanes, my favorite time of year to photograph PA elk is just beginning!

Elk sniffing the air.
Elk sniffing the air.

The elk become easier to spot without the foliage on the trees, and they tend to concentrate more around the food plots which makes it easier to predict where they will be.

An unusual rack on this Pennsylvania bull elk.
An unusual rack on this Pennsylvania bull elk.

Here are a few more late fall PA elk photos.

Elk in the Sproul State Forest herd.
Elk in the Sproul State Forest herd.
Elk herd in Clearfield County.
Elk herd in Clearfield County.
Elk Country Visitor Center food plot.
Elk Country Visitor Center food plot.
Trio of elk on State Game Lands 100 in Clearfield County.
Trio of elk on State Game Lands 100 in Clearfield County.
Majestic elk in the Sproul State Forest.
Majestic elk in the Sproul State Forest.
Elk on Winslow Hill near Benezette.
Elk on Winslow Hill near Benezette.
A pair of Pennsylvania bull elk.
A pair of Pennsylvania bull elk.
Elk near Round Island Run Falls in the Sproul State Forest.
Elk near Round Island Run Falls in the Sproul State Forest.
One member of the Benezette elk herd.
One member of the Benezette elk herd.

Winter PA Elk Photos

When the snow starts flying, there are still plenty of opportunities to photograph the PA elk herd.

Elk in the Potter County section of Sinnemahoning State Park.
Elk in the Potter County section of Sinnemahoning State Park.

The winter coat of the elk is nearly 5 times thicker than their summer coat, so they look much “fluffier”.

Elk sniffing the air on a winter morning.
Elk sniffing the air on a winter morning.

Here are a few more wintertime PA elk photos for you to enjoy.

Elk foraging for food in a winter morning.
Elk foraging for food in a winter morning.
Elk scratching an itch.
Elk scratching an itch.
Elk bedded down on State Game Lands 100 in Centre County.
Elk bedded down on State Game Lands 100 in Centre County.
A baby bull elk in the winter.
A baby bull elk in the winter.
Bull elk in the Sproul State Forest.
Bull elk in the Sproul State Forest.
Young bull elk in the winter.
Young bull elk in the winter.

Final Thoughts

There’s never a bad time of year to photograph the PA elk herd!

Large bull elk at the Visitor Center in Benezette.
Large bull elk at the Visitor Center in Benezette.

The fact that these noble creatures have made a successful return to the PA Wilds is something to be celebrated and enjoyed.

Close-up of an elk in Benezette.
Close-up of an elk in Benezette.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip to PA Elk Country through the lens of my camera, and I encourage you to make the trip to see the PA elk herd an item on YOUR PA Bucket List!

Elk at Woodring Farm near Benezette.
Elk at Woodring Farm near Benezette.

Nearby Attractions

As I mentioned, the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette serves as the epicenter of the effort to educate the public about the Pennsylvania elk herd.

Full-size taxidermy display inside the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.
Full-size taxidermy display inside the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.

There is NO COST to get in, and you will certainly leave there with a better understanding and appreciation for the majestic Pennsylvania elk herd.

Sunrise at the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette Pennsylvania
Sunrise at the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette

Looking for directions to THE BEST elk viewing spots in PA?

Dents Run Elk Viewing Area in Elk County.
Dents Run Elk Viewing Area in Elk County.

Then be sure to check out “The 15 Best Elk Viewing Destination in Pennsylvania“!

Woodring Farm Vista and elk viewing deck near Benezette.
Woodring Farm Vista and elk viewing deck near Benezette.

Pennsylvania Elk Country is home to some incredible views, and you’ll find the best ROADSIDE ones to reach in my write-up “The 20 Best Scenic Overlooks in PA Elk Country”.

Square Timber Vista along Ridge Road in the Elk State Forest.

Looking to explore the nearby Quehanna Wild Area?

Roadside fall foliage at the Marion Brooks Natural Area
The Marion Brooks Natural Area in the Quehanna Wild Area

Then be sure to check out “The 5 Best Roadside Attractions in the Quehanna Wild Area” for a great introduction to this 75 square mile natural wonder!

A September view of Table Falls, flowing high and clear on Paige Run.
Table Falls in the Quehanna Wild Area.

Did you enjoy this article?

If so, be sure to like and follow PA Bucket List on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Pinterest to stay up-to-date on my latest write-ups.

Click on any of the icons below to get connected to PA Bucket List on social media!


Pennsylvania’s Best AD-FREE Adventure Guide!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Awesome job. Your photos are just beautiful Rusty. I was fortunate enough to camp in Yellowstone years ago when the elk were in rut. It was an experience (and sound) I will never forget… Surprisingly, I have not yet seen our Pennsylvania herd. I hope to change that and rather like the idea of visiting in the winter. We’ll see. Thanks for the preview!!

    • You’re welcome Wendy! Winter in that area has a much wilder feel to it than the busy fall tourist season. And the elk are easier to spot.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here