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elk looking forward at Elk at Quiet Harmony Ranch in New Paris Ohio

Explore an Elk Oasis at Quiet Harmony Ranch

This family-friendly agritourism attraction features a fascinating animal that once roamed wild in Ohio.

Elk at Quiet Harmony Ranch in New Paris

Explore an Elk Oasis at Quiet Harmony Ranch

By Damaine Vonada

Posted On: Aug 4, 2022

At Quiet Harmony Ranch near New Paris, the elk cows are prolific, the bulls look majestic, the calves are adorable, and the entire family can enjoy a day of discovery – and fun – in the Southwest Ohio countryside. Owned and operated by Dave Flory and his wife Pam, Quiet Harmony is a working elk ranch and idyllic destination where people take a break from the bustling world and delight in the wonders of the natural world. 

"I wanted to have a place where families would see God's creation and get inspired by it," Dave told me. "While they're here, they can turn off their electronics and learn about farming and nature."

Thanks to the introductory video shown in Quiet Harmony's Welcome Center, I was surprised to learn that wild elk were once common in Ohio. The graceful animals are much larger cousins of the state's common white-tailed deer, but they disappeared around 1840 because of overhunting and habitat loss.

Elk cows in a field at Quiet Harmony Ranch in New Paris Ohio

Since the Florys breed and raise elk at Quiet Harmony, the 185-acre ranch typically has between 300 and 400 elk onsite, offering a rare opportunity to observe herds of elk and listen to their distinctive – and often loud! – trumpeting sounds echoing from a grassy paddock or patch of trees.  

two cars driving up a road at Elk at Quiet Harmony Ranch in New Paris Ohio as part of the self-guided driving tour of grounds
Self-guided driving tour of the grounds

The ranch's visitor venues are open on Fridays and Saturdays from June through October, and the admission fee includes multiple ways to get acquainted with elk. Experiences range from catching sight of mamas and their spotted babies on self-guided driving tours through the picturesque grounds; to hiking densely wooded Discovery Trails where signs along the way feature fascinating facts – who knew that newborn calves weigh 35 pounds? – about elk.

Visitors navigating the Intelli-Maze at Quiet Harmony Ranch in New Paris Ohio
Visitors navigating the Intelli-Maze

You can also try to finding your way through a unique Intelli-Maze that tests visitors elk expertise. If you know, for example, that a bull elk's antlers are made of bone, you'll advance through the maze. If you don’t, you'll hit a dead end!

Since Dave generously treated me to a visit to the ranch, I got to join in an Outback Encounter, an exciting off-the-beaten path expedition in an RTV that, for an additional fee, takes guests to the ranch's "back forty" for close-up views of elk. As the RTV bumped and bounced over mowed paths on the hillsides, our driver and guide Tony Ballin pointed out a large bull nibbling on the bark of a tree.

elk bull nibbling on tree bark at Quiet Harmony Ranch in New Paris Ohio

His handsome set of antlers appeared to be furry, and Tony explained that male elk sprout a new set of antlers every year.  Their antlers growing rapidly in the spring and summer when they're covered with a soft, blood-rich tissue called velvet. Once the antlers stop growing and harden into bone in late summer, bulls naturally start shedding the velvet. 

Quiet Harmony's elk are fed a custom mix of non-GMO alfalfa and wheat, and when Tony stopped the RTV beside a fenced-in field and grabbed a feed bucket, a group of calves immediately showed up for a snack. Everyone got out of the RTV for the chance to stand – and of course take lots of photos – just inches away from the elk. 

After the Outback Encounter, ranch employee Rosanna Huffman met me outside the Food Cabin, and as we walked inside to order lunch, she mentioned that she had gotten up at 4 AM that day to bake the eatery's sandwich buns. "I use my mother's yeast dough recipe," said Rosanna, "and I mix the raw ingredients myself."

half of chicken salad sandwich and elk barbecue sandwich in front of tiny cup of coleslaw on a table at the Food Cabin part of Quiet Harmony Ranch in New Paris Ohio

Although homemade Elk BBQ is the Food Cabin's signature sandwich, when I found out that it also serves house-made chicken salad, I decided to compromise and had half sandwiches of each for lunch. Both the Elk BBQ, which is similar in texture to Sloppy Joes, and the chicken salad were delish, and a side of tangy coleslaw – it's also homemade! – perfectly complemented them. 

Pile of elk plush toys in the Trading Post store at Quiet Harmony Elk Ranch in New Paris Ohio

My final stop was the ranch's Trading Post, which carries an excellent selection of low fat, high protein "heart smart" elk meats as well as flavored elk sticks and jerky. It also sells elk velvet nutritional supplements, elk antler dog chews, and plush elk toys complete with oversized stuffed antlers. 

two elk calves and elk adult mom standing in a field at Quiet Harmony Elk Ranch in New Paris Ohio

The elks on the shelf were certainly cute and cuddly, but as I thought about my many adventures at Quiet Harmony Ranch, I quickly concluded that they could never compete with Mother Nature or my takeaway memory – the shy but sharp-eyed pair of young calves who had seemed as curious about me as I was about them.   

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