Best Michigan Elk Viewing Guide - Gaylord Michigan MAP: Where and Best Times to See Majestic Elk | Photos, Video | DNR Overlooks in Northern Michigan

Best Michigan Elk Viewing Spots | Gaylord Michigan: Where (Interactive Map), When and Best Times to See Majestic Elk | DNR Overlooks

By: Sherry Trautman | | Last updated: October 13, 2023

I find Michigan elk so fascinating and majestic!  Did you know they are most active (and easier to see) in September and October during their breeding season? Keep reading for the best Michigan elk viewing spots in Northern Michigan!  

I took all these photos of the lovely elk at Aspen Park in Gaylord, Michigan.

Frequently Asked Questions About Michigan Elk

Are there wild elk in Michigan? Yes!  You can see elk herds in northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan around the Gaylord region. 

What areas of Michigan have elk? Where are Elk In Michigan? The Pigeon River Country State Forest in Northern Michigan near Gaylord is home to Michigan's only free-roaming elk herd. There are about 500 head of elk!

How many bull elk are in Michigan? A Michigan DNR survey resulted in a population estimate between 870 and 1,684 elk.

Where to See Michigan Elk: Elk Viewing Gaylord MI (Where can you view elk in Michigan?)

  • Our #1 Pick is Aspen Park - Also Known as Gaylord's City Elk Park. Sometimes it is hard to spot elk in the wild but you will have a much better chance of seeing these majestic animals at Aspen Park!  There are 108 acres of habitat with approximately 40 elk. Navigation: Aspen Park: 239 Commerce Boulevard, Gaylord.  It's right next to the Elks Lodge. This is where I took all my photos of the elk.
  • Pigeon River Country State Forest: In September, the Pidgeon River Discovery Center tends to have an elk viewing hike, so be sure to check their website.
  • Mounts can be seen at Call of the Wild Museum in Gaylord Michigan. Plus 

Interactive Michigan Elk Viewing Map

  • Click on the plus and minus in the left corner to zoom in or out of the map.
  • Click on the icons for more info, addresses and photos of the stops.
  • Click on the map to drag and move it to view surrounding areas.
  • In the Header, click on the rectangle in the upper left of the map to see a menu of all of our stops. Click on anything that looks interesting to see where it is on the map. To hide the menu, click the rectangle in the header.
  • In the Header, click on the "square" icon in the upper right side to expand the map for better viewing.

Our Map Key: The gray color are recommended Michigan elk viewing sites by the Pidgeon River Discovery Center and also the DNR. Easier access by vehicle, I'm guessing. The dark brown color is DNR recommended Michigan elk viewing sites. 

  • EASIEST SPOT TO VIEW ELK RIGHT FROM YOUR CAR: Aspen Park, Gaylord, MI.  239 Commerce Boulevard, Gaylord. Go here first!

Per the Pidgeon River Discovery Center, the following spots are designated elk viewing areas. Chris and I placed them on the interactive map above for more easier navigation and planning. Here are the directions per the Pidgeon River Discovery Center.

  1. 3.5 miles east of Vanderbilt on Sturgeon Valley Road, then 3 miles north on Fontinalis Road
  2. 8 miles east of Vanderbilt on Sturgeon Valley Road at a pipeline corridor
  3. 4 miles north of the Pigeon River Country State Forest Headquarters on Osmun Road
  4. 18 miles east of Gaylord on County Road 622.

When to See Michigan Elk: So Majestic!

September and October are prime elk spotting months in Michigan as it is breeding season. During this time frame you can hear male bulls bugling, as they are very active rounding up the females.

  • The breeding season or rut begins in early September and peaks around September 20th but you can still see them into October.  Elk are most visible dusk and dawn. The Pigeon River Country Discovery Center in Gaylord recommends going out around 7:00 am or earlier for the best results. 

During the hot summer months of June through August are the most difficult times to see elk.

How Big Are Michigan Elk?

Elk can stand roughly 6’ tall, weigh over 800 pounds and display 40 pound antlers.

More Fun Things To Do Since You Love Nature and Outdoor Adventures...

Oh and Be Sure to Visit Nearby Grayling!

I absolutely LOVE exploring, hiking and kayaking in Grayling Michigan.  The area has one of the best HIKING trails I have ever been on (scenic boardwalk along a lake...seriously incredible!) ...check it out!  Grayling Michigan Guide!

Sherry Trautman Bio Picture

About the Lead Author | Sherry Trautman

Thanks for stopping by!

Our Words of Wisdom: “Never follow anyone else’s path. Unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means follow that path.”

"Sherry & Chris"

We're Sherry and Chris the founders of one of Michigan's most comprehensive and Top Travel Blogs!

    Sherry Trautman is a seasoned business owner and a multifaceted content creator, deeply entrenched in the world of travel in Michigan. With her extensive background in writing, editing, photography, marketing, website design, web mastering, social media, and publishing, she is the driving force behind the acclaimed Michigan Travel site "" A lifelong Michigander, Sherry's journey began in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan led her to St. Joseph during her formative years, and further to Kalamazoo for her higher education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and Fine Art from Western Michigan University. Her career initially blossomed in Battle Creek, where she contributed significantly to aviation, marketing, and the art industry.

    In 2018, Sherry, alongside her husband Chris, embarked on a passionate endeavor with the inception of This venture was not just a business but a full-time commitment to exploring and celebrating the diverse landscapes and communities of Michigan. Together, they tirelessly traverse the state, curating unique experiences, capturing stunning visuals, and weaving engaging narratives that showcase Michigan's rich cultural tapestry and natural beauty. From her early experiences in different Michigander locales to her extensive professional background, Sherry's life and work epitomize a deep-rooted expertise in Michigan travel, making her an authoritative voice in this niche.

Sherry & Chris are at the Inn at Bay Harbor and looking out at the lake.
Read More About Us Here

Join our newsletter of Michigan Explorers!

Share Social

When you wish destinations came with a 30 second trailer so you can see what you’re getting yourself into.  

If you whine and are nice, IM us and we will tell you if you are truly screwed or not. 

Where Do You Want To Start Your Next Adventure?

Slickstream Search Box