National Elk Refuge
- Type: Parks and Gardens, Zoos and Aquariums
- Time to Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
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Every autumn, Jackson Hole resonates from the distinctive bugle calls of one of its most prominent residents: elk. These large deer-like creatures have roamed Jackson Hole and the nearby Teton Mountains by the thousands for many years, but they still have difficulty finding food during the harsh winter months. So as temperatures begin to drop, the Hole's herds make their way to the National Elk Refuge, a massive non-enclosed sanctuary. Visit the refuge in winter to find them waiting for spring thaw, munching on staff-provided alfalfa pellets.
While in the refuge you can see the animals from their cars, or you could also tag along on a guided sleigh ride (during the winter months). One TripAdvisor user writes, "Over 10,000 elk just outside of Jackson, how crazy is that! You people that live in Jackson Hole are so lucky, do you have any idea!" If you want to spot the most elk, plan your refuge visit for the winter months.
Located just north of Jackson near the National Museum of Wildlife Art, the National Elk Refuge operates seasonal hours. In the winter the facility is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and in summer the refuge is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Stop in the visitor center first to sign up for guided tours or peruse educational displays. Admission is free (although you should expect a small fee for the sleigh rides). You can learn more about the National Elk Refuge by visiting its website.