You and your family can participate in several outdoor activities at this year’s Elk Festival. And, if the weather gets cold and snowy enough to push wild elk into the ranch, you might have a chance to take a horse-drawn wagon or sleigh ride through the middle of the herd.
The festival will be held at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area on Saturday, Dec. 14. Activities run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Except for a fee to ride a horse-dawn sleigh or wagon through the meadow at the WMA ($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 the WMA by traveling 18 miles east of Hyrum on state Route 101.
Telecommunications challenges at the ranch prevent its staff from accepting credit cards, so make sure you bring cash or a check with you.
Making Christmas ornaments using sagebrush, bitterbrush and other plants found at the WMA are among the activities your children can participate in. “We’ll also teach you how to turn a pinecone into a bird feeder,” says Marni Lee, assistant manager at the Hardware Ranch WMA. “And your kids can paint their very own replica of a fish.”
The WMA’s staff is also hoping you’ll see some elk. On Dec. 3, Hardware Ranch Manager Brad Hunt said elk were hanging out on the benches above the meadow where the sleigh and wagon rides are held. “Some of these elk are starting to make their way into the meadow,” he says.
Lee encourages you to bring some binoculars and to dress for all types of weather. “We’ll host the event,” she 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 auxiliary building in the overflow lunch area at the WMA.
Some new displays are also available to see in the visitor center and in the area where you board the sleighs.
Sleigh rides start Dec. 13
Another chance to take a horse-drawn sleigh or wagon ride through the middle of hundreds of wild elk starts at the ranch the day before the festival—on Dec. 13.
Starting Dec. 13, the ranch’s visitor center will be open, and sleigh or wagon rides will be offered during the following days and times:
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.
Monday noon to 4:30 p.m.
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 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.
Logo courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources