Michigan Roadside Attractions: Gaylord Elk View Park
Michigan Roadside Attractions is a periodic feature on Travel the Mitten that will explore the many interesting things that can be found on the highways, byways and back roads of Michigan, ranging from the interesting to unusual.
The area near Gaylord was the chosen site for the reintroduction of elk into Michigan back in 1918, and today the Gaylord Elk View Park offers visitors a chance to see these majestic animals up close. The nearby Pigeon River Country State Forest is home to our state’s wild elk herd, which is estimated to have more than 1,000 elk. Located just a few blocks from Gaylord’s downtown (and coincidentally enough next to the Gaylord ELKS Lodge), the park features a few hundred feet of frontage next to a tall fence through which the elk can be seen from a distance and up close.
Gaylord’s tourism website notes that “Under the city’s care the roughly 70 elk can be viewed from near the Elk’s Lodge off Grandview at Elk View Park. The herd is contained on 108 acres. City staff feed the animals corn, hay and sugar beets, plus vitamins. The herd started with three elk 14 years ago, when a local nature center closed. Currently, a few of the bulls weigh well over 800 pounds and stand roughly 6′ tall. The bulls will don their massive horns during the fall and winter, dropping them in the spring.” They also provide a list of possible locations for seeing elk in the wild in and near the Pigeon River Country State Forest.
The Michigan DNR announced this week that new license plates featuring an elk and honoring the 100 year anniversary of elk reintroduction in Michigan will be available starting in December. Money from the sales of these plates goes to wildlife conservation efforts.
Gaylord’s Elk View Park can be found on Grandview Blvd. rougly two blocks east of S. Otsego Ave. (Business Route I-75). There is a good-sized parking area here, next to the ELKS Lodge.