(Above: Kayaking the Clarion River)
Elk County certainly lives up to its name. It’s the heart of Pennsylvania’s wild elk herd, now numbering over 900 magnificent animals. Elk watching is a memorable activity the whole family can enjoy. The best spot to view elk is around the Elk Country Visitor Center on Winslow Hill in Benezette, the Elk Capital of Pennsylvania. This beautiful education and conservation center has interactive displays, presentations, wild elk viewing blinds, and specially planted grazing pastures to attract wildlife. The center will be the site for the 2017 PA Great Outdoors Elk Expo in August. Benezette is located along Rt. 555, also known as the Elk Scenic Drive. Along the route, there are areas to pull your car off the road to view elk and other wildlife.
(Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous in Ridgway)
You’ll get friendly welcomes in Ridgway, Johnsonburg and Wilcox, too. The Wild & Scenic Clarion River flows through these towns and is a hidden gem for trophy brown trout fishing. Ridgway is one of Pennsylvania’s best-kept secrets. The town was founded in the 1800’s and has done a remarkable job of preserving the grandeur of its Victorian past. It’s Lily of the Valley district of historical mansions and homes is great to drive or stroll through. The town is close to the Allegheny National Forest, so it is also the perfect place for the Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous each March. The event attracts thousands of visitors to watch hundreds of skilled artisans from around the world in a weeklong show that culminates with a carvings auction. Tasting the Wilds is also very popular food, wine and beer festival held each July in Ridgway.
North of Ridgway on Rt. 219 are the towns of Johnsonburg and Wilcox. You’ll find great camping and outdoor activities at the nearby Allegheny National Forest, Bendigo State Park, East Branch Lake, and Twin Lakes Recreation Area.
St. Marys is a city with a strong German Catholic heritage. Since 1872 the Straub Brewery has been brewing in downtown St. Marys. They are designated as an American Legacy Brewery, still family owned. Stop by the brewery for a tour or a taste from the Eternal Tap.
(Elk County Visitor Center in Benezette)
The lively downtown and the Million Dollar Highway offer visitors the perfect place to spend a few hours browsing unique shops and restaurants. Decker’s Chapel is one the smallest churches in the country and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mt. Zion Historical Park near Benezette is beautiful and quiet place with an honor walkway, Civil War, Veterans, & Boy Scout memorials and the first grist mill stone used in the 1800’s on Bennett’s Branch.
Find more information to play your trip the PA Great Outdoors region online at VisitPAGO.com or call (814) 849-5197.