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1.26.2017

7 Great Things to Do in Elk Country in the PA Great Outdoors Region


As far as natural beauty goes, the PA Great Outdoor Region is one of the best places to go and have a great time. The area around Benezette, PA is my favorite place to observe majestic wildlife within the state, with the elk being reminiscent of the herds of buffalo in Yellowstone National Park, and the moose, in Alaska's Denali National Park. Simply magnificent beauty. In addition to the elk, there are lots of other great things to see and do in the area. Here are seven of our favorites.

1) Watching the elk:

This one should be on your bucket list. The elk herd is spectacular to check out. This area is home to a stunning elk herd. The elk are majestic creatures that once roamed large swaths of the state, but due to a flagrant disregard for the species, they were hunted to extinction in the 1800s. Thanks to an effort in the days of Teddy Roosevelt, some elk were brought in from Yellowstone to help repopulate the state with these stately creatures. The efforts were successful and we now have a thriving elk herd within the state once again. The elk can be seen anywhere throughout the area, but nearby Winslow Hill in the area of the Visitors Center has the greatest concentration of them. 
The following articles have a number of hotspot locations to watch the elk. This is not the end all list, these are the areas that have specifically been set aside to watch the elk. Even in the absence of elk, these areas have enough natural beauty alone to warrant a visit. The best thing about this area is that you are likely to see elk almost everywhere you go, and in some of the least expected areas. 
Elk Country Visitors Center at Winslow Hill
Elk Scenic Drive
This elk was waiting for the church doors to open on a Sunday morning right in the center of the village of Benezette.
In addition to elk viewing opportunities, the Elk Country Visitors Center has a cozy fireplace area, displays of most of the wildlife that lives within the region, a gift shop, and an interactive film that gives a terrific overview of the history of elk, and the present state of the herd.
2) Having some delicious eats and drinks:


The Benezette Hotel has what is some of the most delicious and affordable food that we have ever come across. 


Benezette Wines has a great collection of wines that is sure to please any wine lover as well, perfect to savor after a relaxing day watching the elk.

3) Sinnemahoning State Park:
You are certain to find elk a good distance from Benezette, and regardless of this, the mountains, and valleys are as stunning as any within the state. Pretty much anywhere within an hour of the area consists of largely pristine land. 42 minutes north east of the town brings you to Sinnemahoning State Park. The drive up to Sinnemahoning is spectacular and takes you through the landscape that brought us Tom Mix, the original blockbuster cowboy actor and inspiration to John Wayne. 
Sinnemahoning State Park has spectacular scenery, wildlife, vistas, and more, including this awesome arched tree. 

4) Straub Brewery:
Half an hour northwest of Benezette is the small city of St. Mary's, PA, home to Straub Beer, America's third oldest brewery in its nineteenth century and pre-prohibition original brewery. This is a terrific family organization that creates excellent beers that are done the right way. The excellence of the beer is only eclipsed by the hospitality of the family. 
Straub is home to the famed "Eternal Tap" that you can get a fresh draught of some of the brewery's fantastic offerings.  Their brews, especially their lager and amber beers, are phenomenal. Straub does not take any shortcuts. They've been in this business for close to 150 years, and that is not by accident. You can learn more about the brewery and how to visit it in this article.

5) Seeing the spectacular white birch grove at the Marion Brooks Natural Area

Located near Benezette is the spectacular Marion Brooks Natural Area, home to one of the finest stands of white birch trees in this part of the country. More commonly found in the cooler weather regions of Canada, White Birches are seldom found in this large of a number this far south. This grove is visually stunning and is awesome enough to be a destination of its own.
Additionally, staying at night leaves you the chance to take in everything that the region has to offer, in addition to a chance to simply look up at the stars at night. This region is known to have some of the darkest skies on the East Coast.


6) Kayaking the Clarion River, Fishing, and Other Outdoor Recreational Opportunities
Close to Straub and only forty minutes northwest of Benezette is Ridgway, a beautiful village that is a hub for beautiful old buildings, a classic small town business district, eclectic celebrations, a bicycle trail, and access to the wild and scenic Clarion River, one of the finest trout fisheries in the state.

The Clarion River flows through the region and you can go on a kayaking excursion or simply take in the natural beauty. This area is filled with protected public lands that are excellent for exploration and sightseeing. 
Country Squirrel Outfitters is the perfect outdoor recreation guide to this region, offering supplies, gear, and guide services. Their kayak and canoe rentals are excellent and we had the pleasure of going on an adventure with them on the Clarion River.
While on our tour, we got to enjoy this fantastic river and we even saw this bald eagle!

7) Staying the Night:
There are many cabins and inns in this area, including the brand new Antler Shed Cabins, a place that we highly recommend. The elk are known to come right up to the cabins. The cabins and village of Benezette are surrounded by woods and large grassy rolling hills and adjoining forests in which the elk frolic and graze. The accommodations are wonderful, with a porch and fireplace outside each cabin, and a full kitchen, dining area, TV and living room, a spacious bathroom, and bedrooms. The places have rustic charm with modern amenities at the same time. 
If you visit in the spring time, you just may see an elk calf. Once the summer comes around, you start to see the antlers grow, and come fall you may hear the elk bugling during their rut when they seek mates. You are likely to see the elk duke it out over a mate, bugling, charging each other, locking antlers, and winning over a mate who is likely watching the fight from nearby. Seeing the elk throughout their different stages of life should certainly be on your bucket list. These majestic animals are exhilarating to watch as they graze all over the area. 

In addition to seeing the elk, the many attractions throughout this region make it an excellent place to visit any time of the year. All in all, the elk area region has the makings of a fantastic weekend trip or extended vacation. 

For more information about visiting the region, be sure to check out the website for the PA Great Outdoors Region at www.visitpago.com

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