An elk

Two Kentucky State Parks in eastern Kentucky will offer guests a unique wildlife viewing opportunity this fall and winter – elk viewing tours.

Visitors to Jenny Wiley and Buckhorn Lake State Resort Parks can choose a weekend, stay at a state park lodge or cottage and arise early to enjoy one of these unique tours, according to a news release.

Participants should bring their cameras – there should be great photography opportunities. The largest elk herds are located on privately owned lands that are normally closed to the public. This is one of the few opportunities available for the public to see the greatest number of elk.

The return of elk to the region is considered to be one of Kentucky’s biggest wildlife management success stories. The animals, after being gone from the state for 150 years, were returned in 1997. They now number around 10,000.

Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, Prestonsburg

Fall 2012 dates: Sept. 15 (Elk Night), 16, 29, 30. Sept. 22-23 Under the Stars with the Elk Camping; Oct. 20 (Buffalo Night), 21, 27, 28; Nov. 3, 17, 24; Dec. 1.

Winter 2013 dates: Jan. 12, 19, 26 (Buffalo Night), 27; Feb. 2, 9, 16, 23; March 2, 9.

Jenny Wiley State Resort Park is sponsoring elk tours at a cost of $30 per person or $15 per child 12 and under. This fee includes transportation via van to the viewing sites and a continental breakfast. The park also offers packages that include lodging. Because these tours fill up quickly, registration is suggested. Special group and business tours are also available. The Sept. 22-23 trip will feature a campout that costs $60 per person and includes meals. Call (800) 325-0142 for information and reservations.

Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park, Buckhorn

Fall 2012 dates: Sept. 15, 22; Oct. 26; Nov. 17; Dec. 1.

Winter 2013 dates: Jan. 12, 26; Feb. 9, 23; March 9, 16.

Enjoy seeing these majestic animals in their natural habitat. With sightings recorded on every tour over the last several years, guided elk viewing adventures have proven to be memorable wildlife viewing experiences. Participants must register by calling Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park at (800) 325-0058. Participation in the natural history program the evening prior to the trip is strongly recommended. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars, camera, water and snacks.

The tour van leaves the park between 5:45 a.m. and 6:35 a.m. depending on the date, and usually returns to the park around 10:30 a.m. to noon. Package price of $120 per couple ($90 per single) includes one night’s lodging, continental breakfast and transportation to and from the elk preserve the following morning. Stay the night before or after with package for an extra $50. The cost for the tour only can be arranged. Call (800) 325-0058 for reservations and information.