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The annual Hardware Ranch Elk Festival happens December 15

You and your family can participate in several outdoor activities at this year’s Elk Festival. You might even have a chance to take a horse-drawn wagon or sleigh ride through the middle of a bunch of wild elk!

The festival will be held at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area on Saturday, Dec. 15. Activities run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Except for a fee to ride a horse-drawn 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.


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. 5, Hardware Ranch Manager Brad Hunt said elk were starting to come into the meadow area at the WMA where the sleigh and wagon rides are held.

kids on wagon at hadware ranch
This years Elk Festival will be held at the Hardware Ranch WMA on Dec. 15. The WMA opens for its winter season that same weekend. Photo by Marni Lee
“In the last three to four days,” Hunt says, “some of the elk have moved down off the benches and into the meadow and around the barnyard area at the WMA. They’re close enough now that I can hear the cows and calves talking when I leave the WMA at night.”

Lee encourages you to bring some binoculars and to dress for all types of weather. “We will 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.

Sleigh rides start Dec. 14

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. 14.

Starting Dec. 14, 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.
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.

For more information, visit the Hardware Ranch WMA website.