The National Elk Refuge
This scenic area is located just south of Teton National Park and Just outside of Jackson Hole Wyoming. The National elk refuge has been used by elk for hundreds of years for winter survival. When the town of Jackson Hole began to grow, it encroached on the elks territory limiting their food supply. Many years ago, due to human population encroachment. The Department of Interior began feeding these elk to help them survive during the hard winters in the area. Elk will travel a very long way to come to this refuge, just as they have for dozens of generations.
More About the Elk
The Dept. of Interior feeds these elk alfalfa pellets, a rich source of nutrition that gives them the stamina needed for the brutal Wyoming winters. At any given time from November through April, thousands of elk can be seen in the refuge which is surrounded by a fence. There are small gateways that the elk use for access into the refuge and the adults teach their calf’s where these entry locations are.
Other Wildlife in the Elk Refuge
It is common for people to see wolves, coyotes and bighorn sheep inside of the National Elk Refuge. The wolves and coyotes come to feed on the elk that have not survived the winter. The bighorns come down in the fall, just like the elk—to gain access to the rich food supplies compared to their summer time areas high mountain areas.
Elk Refuge Tours
You can take a tour of the elk refuge during the winter and early spring. Riding right into the elk herd on a sleigh or wheeled cart (depending on snow amounts). You can expect to get within feet of the elk herd. During these tours you are likely to see coyotes and various other wildlife. The money made from these tours is used to feed the elk. Find out more about the tours at http://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147509854
Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride Rates
Children ages 5-12: $15
Children 4 and under: free
Private Sleighs: $375 per sleigh, 16-18 people maximum.
During the spring, the elk refuge allows the Boy Scouts come into the refuge to collect the shed elk antlers. They use the money from the sale of these to fund boy scout activities. You will also probably notice that inside the town of Jackson Hole that the Main intersection (town square) has large elk antler arches. These arches were formed entirely by elk antlers collected off the elk refuge.