Have Fun, See Wild Elk

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Utah Wildlife News Release

Elk festival happens Dec. 8

Hyrum — Another chance to ride a horse-drawn sleigh or wagon through the middle of hundreds of wild elk is almost here.

To celebrate the start of another elk-viewing season, staff at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area will hold the ranch’s annual Elk Festival on Dec. 8. Activities run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

On Nov. 27, Hardware Ranch WMA Manager Brad Hunt said between 250 and 325 elk were on the hills surrounding the meadow through which the sleighs or wagons are pulled.

“They’re bugling and talking a lot in the evenings,” Hunt said. “It’s cold, so the elk will likely stick around and not head back to the high country. More elk should join them soon.”

Except for a fee to ride through the elk herd ($5 for those 9 years of age or older, or $3 for those 4 to 8 years old), all of the festival activities are free.

You can reach Hardware Ranch by traveling 16 miles east of Hyrum on state Route 101.

Activities

In addition to riding a sleigh or wagon through the middle of the elk herd, several free activities will be held on Dec. 8. For example, children can learn how to make Christmas ornaments using sagebrush, bitterbrush and other plants found at the WMA. “Did you know pinecones make great bird feeders?” Hunt says. “They do, and we’ll show you how to make one.”

You can also learn how to call elk and then demonstrate your newly learned skills at an amateur elk-calling contest held during the last hour of the festival.

Hunt encourages you to bring some binoculars and to dress for all types of weather. “We’ll host the event,” he says, “even if it snows.”

On your way to the ranch, you can enjoy the scenic drive up Blacksmith Fork Canyon. Food is not available at the ranch, but you’re welcome to bring a picnic lunch and eat in the lunch area in the auxiliary building at the WMA.

Sleigh rides start Dec. 7

If you’re itching to take a ride sooner than Dec. 8, visit the ranch on Dec. 7. That’s the first day the visitor center will be open and rides through the elk herd will be offered.

From Dec. 7 through Feb. 10, the ranch’s visitor center will be open, and sleigh or wagon rides will be offered, during the following days and times:

Day                 Time

Friday              noon to 4:30 p.m.

Saturday         10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Sunday            10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

If you’d like to spend less time in line for a sleigh ride, visit the ranch on a Sunday. “Fewer people visit the ranch on Sundays,” Hunt says, “so you can get on a sleigh faster.”

If you want to go on a sleigh ride or a wagon ride, you must buy your ticket at the visitor center by 4:30 p.m.

On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the sleigh rides will not be running, and the visitor center will not be open. You can still bring your binoculars and view the elk from a distance, though.

For more information, including holiday hours, visit www.hardwareranch.com. You can also call the ranch at 435-753-6206 or email Hunt at bradhunt@utah.gov.

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