After a bite to eat in the scenic town of Ridgway, we headed to Benezette to see the wild elk herds. These elk are probably one of the biggest tourist attractions in northwest Pennsylvania, attracting people from around the world. We stopped by the impressive Elk Country Visitor Center, but there were no elk to be seen. Undeterred, we drove to nearby Winslow Hill, which often has elk. As luck would have it, a herd of cows were grazing in a field; across the road was a lone bull, lying in a meadow. Winslow Hill not only has elk, but also some very nice views. In the distance, rows of tamarack had turned into a golden yellow. The sun pierced through an electric blue sky and illuminated the high cirrus clouds with a blinding white. Another quick drive down the road revealed another field with a herd and two bulls.
Elk are such impressive, and huge, creatures. I was once fortunate enough to see elk in the wilderness, while hiking the Quehanna Trail. They were massive as they walked through the woods, stepping on and breaking fallen branches as if they were twigs. I was half-afraid of their size, and how quickly they moved through the forest. Thank God they’re vegetarians, I thought. I continued down the trail and startled a deer, it was so small in comparison, it was like seeing a chihuahua.
Elk once roamed Pennsylvania’s woods, but by 1867 they were eliminated from the state due to hunting. The elk that live here today are descendants from elk that lived in the Rocky Mountains, being reintroduced from 1913 through 1926. The herd now exceeds 800 animals. It is great to have these magnificent creatures back in Penn’s Woods.
Our tour of northwest Pennsylvania concluded, we headed home.