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National Elk Refuge, Jackson

(1,200+ reviews on the web)
Wildlife Area Nature / Park
The National Elk Refuge is located in the U.S. state of Wyoming and was created in 1912 to protect habitat and provide sanctuary for one of the largest elk (also known as the wapiti) herd on Earth. The refuge borders the town of Jackson, Wyoming on the northeast while Bridger-Teton National Forest is to the east and Grand Teton National Park borders the refuge to the north. It is home to an average of 7,500 elk each winter. The refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior.Elk migrate from as far away as southern Yellowstone National Park and historically migrated south of the present location of the refuge into southwestern Wyoming during the fall, wintering on grassy plains that were usually snowfree most of the winter. During the spring, the herd would follow the retreating snows back into the Yellowstone National Park region. The original size of the elk herd has been estimated to have been in excess of 25,000. The expansion of the town of Jackson blocked off the migration route by the end of the 19th century and the elk herd was severely reduced in size due to the hostile climate and lack of food supply. A movement to protect and enlarge the remaining herd was commenced in the early 1900s, resulting in the creation of the refuge. The elk herd is kept alive during the hard winters of Jackson Hole through feeding and culling of the herd, a lottery based hunting permit program, which is highly regulated. The elk have antlers which are shed each year and the Boy Scouts of America have been collecting the antlers under permit since the 1950s and selling them at auction under agreement that 75% of the proceeds are returned to the refuge to feed, research and manage the herd to assure its survival. Ten to eleven thousand pounds (4,500 to 5,000 kg) of antlers are auctioned each year. The increase in value has resulted in a commensurate rise in antler theft.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • The National Elk Refuge is on the road between Jackson Hole and the Jackson Airport. I had read a little of the history. The elk migrated south out of the Grand Tetons park in the winter for food. How...  more »
  • This refuge encompasses 25,000 acres of well-managed territory providing habitat for more than the winter resident elk.. The property supports various birds, pica, and various fish ( since the hatcher...  more »
  • My wife an I were in Jackson Hole in June and I think we we're late to see Elk. We think they stop here give birth and move south. The area that's the refuge is large and can be viewed from a number o...  more »
Google
  • A great stop. The ranger at the visitor center gave us a map of the North West area picked out all the places to see. She gave us very good advice.
  • We visited in late spring after the elk had all left the refuge for the greater Teton National Park as well as Yellowstone. However, the guide in the Miller house was informative and friendly and the grounds were quiet and serene with an chance to see pronghorn elk and a myriad of cute little rodents. A bonus is access to the side of the valley (hole) away from the Tetons. We took a short drive up that side of the valley that afforded spectacular views of the Teton mountain range.
  • We drove through the reserve and took the wagon ride through, which I WOULD definetly recommend! We were SO close to the ELK! They were gorgeous, our guide was so knowledgeable and the visitor center is AMAZING! You must go if you can, we went end of season, end of March- it was perfect!
  • It was beautiful and the volunteered were very informative and educate you on the period and the home. But we didn't see not one elk 😟
  • Nothing to see here except 8,000 Elk grazing, and bison, and deer, and mountain goats and mountain sheep, and birds, and, and, and... If you're in Jackson, do take a few minutes to visit the refuge and enjoy the tremendous wildlife that it supports. Or, take a drive through the refuge itself and see much of the wildlife from a closer perspective.