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Elk viewing

An elk running through a field

Elk viewing

Michigan's elk herd

One of Michigan's most sought after viewing species is the elk, and Michigan's Pigeon River Country State Forest is home to one of the largest free-roaming elk herds east of the Mississippi. About one thousand elk live in the elk range of southern Cheboygan, Otsego and Montmorency Counties. Elk viewing is one of the most popular pursuits in the elk range, drawing people from around the country.

Elk viewing tips

  • The most popular time to view elk is during the breeding season in September and October, when they are feeding in open grassy areas and bulls are bugling.
  • The best times to view elk are at dawn and dusk.
  • Don’t forget your binoculars! Elk should be appreciated at a distance, and you should not try to approach the animal.
  • You likely will not be alone at designated viewing areas. The opportunity to see elk will be enhanced if everyone sits quietly and avoids going into the fields. 

Please see the map below for designated elk viewing areas within the Pigeon River Country State Forest. You can also check out our elk viewing guide.

Map of designated elk viewing areas