Just northeast of the town of Jackson, the National Elk Refuge is home to the largest wild elk herd in the world.
- Home of the world’s largest remaining elk herd.
- Also home to almost 200 different species of mammals and birds.
- Located just northeast of Jackson.
- Wildlife viewing, hiking and Visitor Center are free to public.
- Winter sleigh rides available from December to April.
In 1912, diminishing elk herds across the western U.S. prompted the establishment of the National Elk Refuge in the home of one of the few remaining large elk herds – Jackson Hole. Today, the Refuge’s 24,700 acres of lowland-meadows and -marshes and sagebrush- and rock-covered foothills supports 5,000-8,000 wintering elk each year – as well as bison, deer, bighorn sheep, wolves and trumpeter swans – and is the only National Refuge devoted to elk management. Although elk only stay on the refuge during the winter months, this land is vital to their survival. During the rest of the year, most of the herd disperses to the surrounding National Parks.
Location and Hours
The National Elk Refuge can be accessed from Elk Refuge Road at the east end of E. Broadway in Jackson. There are wildlife viewing spots along Elk Refuge Road and Highway 26.
The Visitor Center is located at 532 N. Cache Street in Jackson, and is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
Winter Sleigh Rides
From mid-December to early April, visitors can enjoy winter sleigh rides through the Elk Refuge, a fun and exciting wildlife-viewing adventure; sign up at the Visitor Center
Hunting and fishing can be enjoyed on the refuge, although some special regulations are in effect. Limited hiking opportunities are available; there is no overnight parking or camping.
In May, the Boy Scouts of America hosts the annual Elk Antler Auction, selling antlers to offset the cost of running the Refuge.
Visiting the Refuge and the Visitor Center is free; sleigh rides are $15/child and $19/adult. Group and private group rates are available.