This year's Elk Festival will be held at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Managment Area (WMA) on December 17. The WMA opens for its winter season that same weekend. Activities run from 10:00AM to 2:00PM.
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.
Marni Lee, assistant manager at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Mangement Area said, "You don't have to travel all the way to the North Pole to see Rudolph this year. Instead, come to the ranch and see his cousins—Rocky Mountain elk."
Making Christmas ornaments using sagebrush, bitterbrush and other plants found at the WMA are among the activities in which children can participate. "We'll also teach you how to turn a pinecone into a bird feeder. And your kids can paint their very own replica of a fish," Lee said.
Whether you'll see some elk is still in question. On December 8, about 100 elk were on the benches above the meadow where the Wildlife Management Area holds its wagon and sleigh rides. "We're hoping the elk will come into the meadow before the festival starts," Lee said. "If they do, you'll be able to take a wagon or sleigh ride through the middle of the herd."
Lee encourages visitors to bring binoculars and dress for all types of weather. "We will host the event even if it snows," she said.
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 it in the WMA's lunch room.
Sleigh rides start December 16
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. 16.
Starting December 16, 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 4:30PM
Saturday 10:00AM to 4:30PM
Sunday 10:00AM to 4:30PM
Monday noon to 4:30PM
If you want to go on a sleigh ride or a wagon ride, you must buy your ticket at the visitor center by 4:30PM.
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 www.hardwareranch.com. You can also call the ranch at (435) 753-6206 or email Lee at email@example.com.