Exploring the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette

0
580
Elk at the Buckeneezer Hollow Viewing Area in Benezette.

The Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette is the epicenter of elk viewing in Pennsylvania!

And while it is often mistakenly called the Elk County Visitor Center (and it is located in Elk County), it is in fact managed by the non-profit wildlife conservation organization Keystone Elk Country Alliance.

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

So why is the Elk Country Visitor Center so popular?

How do you get there?

When is the best time to go?

What are the best things to see and do there?

The Great Room inside the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.
The Great Room inside the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette.

Follow along as I share my experiences and advice for exploring the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette!


Elk Country Visitor Center FAQs

How do you get to the Elk Country Visitor Center?

The Elk Country Visitor Center is located at 134 Homestead Drive, Benezette, PA 15821.
Or if you prefer to navigate by GPS coordinates, use 41.32328, -78.36795.
A map to the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette Pennsylvania

When is the best time to visit the Elk Country Visitor Center?

Any time it’s open!
During the peak elk viewing season (September-October) the Visitor Center is typically open 8am-8pm, 7 days a week.
However with COVID-related rules and closures seemingly changing weekly, you may want to check the Visitor Center’s official website before you go.
Entrance to the Elk Country Visitors Center along Winslow Hill Road in Benezette.

What is there to see inside the Elk Country Visitor Center?

The Visitor Center is divided up into a series of rooms, each one with a slightly different educational mission.
And yes there are modern restrooms as well (because that’s the first question my wife would ask!).
Entrance to the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.

What is there to see in the Great Room at the Elk Country Visitor Center?

The Great Room is home to many full-size taxidermy displays, lots of interactive touch-screen displays (that may or may not be enabled due to COVID rules), and huge panoramic windows that look out onto one of the elk viewing areas.
Full-size taxidermy display inside the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.

What is there to see in the Discovery Room at the Elk Country Visitor Center?

Think of the Discovery Room as a “please touch” museum, focused on elk and other Pennsylvania wildlife.
There are antlers, bones, taxidermy displays, and even live turtles and snakes!
Discovery Room inside the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.

Is there a gift shop at the Elk Country Visitor Center?

Of course! Anything and everything you can think of featuring elk and other PA Wilds-related themes.
The gift shop inside the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.

Is there an admission fee for the Elk Country Visitor Center?

No – it’s free to park and free to get in!
As mentioned, there is a gift shop as well as a donation box, with funds from both going directly to efforts to conserve and protect the wildlife and habitat of PA Elk Country.
Merchandise in the Elk Country Visitor Center gift shop.

What is there to see outside the Elk Country Visitor Center?

Certainly one of the first things you’ll notice (and a great photo-op!) is the massive elk sculpture near the front entrance.
Elk sculpture at the Visitors Center in Elk County Pennsylvania.

Where are the elk viewing areas at the Elk Country Visitor Center?

There are 3 main trails and elk viewing areas on the grounds, each one just a short stroll from the Visitor Center.
A map to the elk viewing blinds at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette.

What are the rules for viewing the elk at the Visitor Center?

Unless you want to end up on one of those “How not to act around wild animals” videos on YouTube, you should not try and approach the elk too closely, don’t try to feed them, and leave your pets (especially dogs) at home.
Elk Smart rules at the Visitor Center in Benezette.

What does the Vista Trail Viewing Blind look like?

The Vista Trail Viewing Blind is a low stone wall that looks out over a valley-shaped food plot, planted especially to attract elk.

The Vista Trail Viewing Area at the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.

When is the best time to see elk at the Vista Trail Viewing Blind?

As with elk viewing anywhere in Elk Country, they are most active in the early morning and then again in the evening.
That’s not to say you won’t see them at other times, but those are your best bets.

Bull elk near the Visitor Center in Elk County.

What does the Buckeneezer Hollow Trail Viewing Blind look like?

Again – a low stone wall looking out over a food plot, this food plot being much larger and flatter than the Vista Trail one.
Elk viewing blind along the Buckeneezer Hollow Trail at the Elk Country Visitor Center.

When is the best time to see elk at the Buckeneezer Hollow Viewing Blind?

Early morning and then again in the evening.
Of the 3 viewing areas at the Elk Country Visitor Center, this is consistently the one viewing area where I’ve seen the largest number of elk.
A pair of bull elk at the Visitor Center in Elk County.

What does the Meadow Trail Viewing Blind look like?

Basically a continuation of the Buckeneezer Hollow food plot.
A large flat field with many pines in the background.
The Meadow Trail Viewing Area at the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.

When is the best time to see elk at the Meadow Trail Viewing Blind?

Early morning, late evening.
Elk at the Visitor Center in Benezette PA.

Are the elk “tame” at the Elk Country Visitor Center?

No! They are wild animals, although certainly they are less skittish around people than elk you may encounter in surrounding counties.
An elk smelling the air at the Visitor Center in Benezette.

Why do elk bugle in the fall?

It is part of the mating ritual and a challenge to fellow bull elk.
Why do elk bugle information.

Can elk talk to each other?

Yes – they use a variety of vocalizations and body movements to communicate with one another.
Elk talk information at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette.

When are elk calves born?

Generally in late May / early June, after a gestation period of 8.5 months.
They then stay with the mother until the following spring calving season.
A small herd of elk at the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette

Do elk shed their antlers every year?

Yes – the bull elk shed their antlers every year, and all elk shed their summer coats every year for a winter coat 5 times warmer.
Elk coat information at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Elk County PA

Have there always been elk in Pennsylvania?

Wild elk once roamed throughout Pennsylvania, but became extinct in the state by 1867, due to unregulated hunting and habitat loss caused by timber harvesting and expanding human settlements.

Elk were reintroduced to Pennsylvania between 1913 and 1926, and the elk you see today are descendants of those elk that were trapped in the west and relocated to the PA Wilds. Elk at the Meadow Trail Viewing Area at the Elk Country Visitors Center.


Discover the Pennsylvania Elk Herd!

Despite their reintroduction into the state more than 100 years ago, many Pennsylvania’s don’t know that we have a thriving elk herd right here at home!

Bronze elk sculpture in front of the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.
Bronze elk sculpture in front of the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette.

And while elk can be found in at least 5 counties in the state now (Cameron, Clearfield, Centre, Potter, and Elk), the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette is a great place to start your elk viewing experience!

The gates at the Elk Country Visitors Center in Benezette Pennsylvania.
The gates at the Elk Country Visitors Center.

From interactive exhibits to real live elk, a trip to the Elk Country Visitor Center deserves a spot on your PA Bucket List!

A large bull elk at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette PA
A large bull elk at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, PA.

Nearby Attractions

Looking for more amazing elk photos from PA Elk Country?

Then be sure to check out my “50 Best Pennsylvania Elk Photos” gallery!

Trio of elk on State Game Lands 100 in Clearfield County.
Trio of elk on State Game Lands 100 in Clearfield County.

The nearby Quehanna Wild Area is home to several large herds of elk, as well as a number of waterfalls.

A bull elk in velvet along Round Island Ridge Road.

Table Falls is located just minutes from the Quehanna Highway in Elk County, and features a short hike to a picturesque stream and waterfall.

A September view of Table Falls, flowing high and clear on Paige Run.
A September view of Table Falls, flowing high and clear on Paige Run.

You’ll find my map and directions to Table Falls HERE.


Round Island Run Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the PA Wilds / Elk Country region.

The three tiers of Round Island Run Falls, or Three Falls as it is sometimes called.
The three tiers of Round Island Run Falls, or Three Falls as it is sometimes called.

The hike in to this 3-tiered waterfall always has the potential for elk viewing, as the first half of the hike borders a large field / power line cut.

An elk I encountered in the woods along the power line trail to Round Island Run Falls.
An elk I encountered in the woods along the power line trail to Round Island Run Falls.

You can find my map and directions to Round Island Run Falls HERE.


For a completely different kind of hiking destination in the heart of Elk Country, check out the abandoned nuclear jet engines bunkers in the Quehanna Wild Area!

Abandoned nuclear jet engine testing bunker entrance.

These Cold War-era relics were once the site of top-secret nuclear propulsion tests, although now they sit empty and abandoned.

Interior of the northern nuclear jet engine testing bunker in the Quehanna Wild Area.
Interior of the northern nuclear jet engine testing bunker in the Quehanna Wild Area.

There’s also a good chance you cross paths with an elk on the short hike to the bunkers, or at the clearings in the forest where the bunkers sit.

Elk standing near the parking area for Yost Run Falls.

You can find my map and directions to the abandoned nuclear jet engine testing bunkers HERE.


PA Elk Country is home to TONS of incredible views, and you’ll find directions to the best ROADSIDE vistas in my write-up “The 20 Best Scenic Overlooks in PA Elk Country.”

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

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!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here