National Elk Refuge, Jackson

4.5
#1 of 13 in Parks in Jackson Hole
The National Elk Refuge is located in the U.S. state of Wyoming and was created in 1912 to protect habitat and provide sanctuary for one of the largest elk (also known as the wapiti) herds on Earth. A total of 24,700 acres, the refuge borders the town of Jackson, Wyoming on the northeast while Bridger-Teton National Forest is to the east and Grand Teton National Park borders the refuge to the north. It is home to an average of 7,500 elk each winter. The refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior.Elk migrate from as far away as southern Yellowstone National Park and historically migrated to the present location of the refuge and further south into southwestern Wyoming during the fall, wintering on grassy plains that were both sheltered from weather and maintained less snowfall or snow depth than surrounding lands. During the spring, the herd would follow the retreating snows and growing grasses back into the Yellowstone National Park region. The original size of the elk herd has been estimated to have been in excess of 25,000. By the end of the 19th century, the town of Jackson had developed on important winter range and blocked off some of the migration routes used by the elk. The elk herd was severely reduced in size due to the hostile climate and lack of food supply, in addition to hunting pressures by both homesteaders and surrounding Native American tribes (Bannock). A movement to protect the remaining herd and establish greater numbers was commenced in the early 1900s. When the Miller homestead was sold for $45,000 to the federal government, the refuge was established.
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National Elk Refuge Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
1,354 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • The sleighs are fun, the guides can answer any question and much more. Well organized. Blankets. Dress warm. Bring your camera for these fantastic animals. Make a donation to keep this going.  more »
  • Great day trip into the herds of elk. There was Very little snow, so we rode around in wagons. We rolled among the elk and watch them in their natural habitat. The guide was very knowledgeable. Intere...  more »
  • Extremely knowledgeable guide Rich took our group out in a wagon (no sleigh due to limited snow cover) to amazing views of the elk and lots of photo opportunities. The ride was bumpy but we were safe,...  more »
Google
  • Went the day after Christmas and enjoyed this time tested ride. Was good to be back and enjoy mother Nature. ($15) Be sure to drive the back side of the refuge and see the Bighorn Sheep licking the salt off the cars, its a *tip* from our guide Michael. Incredibly close up and wife took some great photos. Our guide was Michael and with proper clothing and blankets you will be warm enough. Recommend if you like nature when your in the area. Video of the (barely) sparring Elk on the YouTube Channel. Thanks for reading.
  • This was the perfect family experience, and a winter must-do, but bundle up-- it's cold in the refuge! We had a wonderful time despite the temperature, and were provided warm blankets on the sleigh ride. Our guide was fabulous and incredibly knowledgeable about everything from the history of the refuge to elk biology. He answered all of our groups questions and was personable and friendly. Likewise, everyone who worked in the museum and shop area were helpful and seemed to genuinely care about the work they are doing. Bonus points for also being bagless for purchases and eco friendly.
  • We have toured the refuge twice, and have enjoyed it both times. This weekend we got to see a few sets of bulls ay fighting. It is an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone.
  • Nice experience bring windproof clothes. There wasn't enough snow for the sleds. But the carriages work just fine. A little bumpy. The guide Justin was very nice and talked alot. Wich is what you want from a guide. Friendly horses and educated staff.
  • A beautiful place to camp! Amazing views of the Tetons. Magical! I'll definitely be back. Would have stayed longer, but there are employees of Jackson that need the area to camp while they are working in town. At least that's what the ranger told me. Sad they don't have enough affordable housing for seasonal workers, but I guess that's seems to be the direction most similar towns are going. Hope it changes. The visitor center was lovely.

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