National Elk Refuge, Jackson

4.4
#1 of 13 in Parks in Jackson Hole
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) herds on Earth. A total of 24,700 acres, 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 to the present location of the refuge and further south into southwestern Wyoming during the fall, wintering on grassy plains that were both sheltered from weather and maintained less snowfall or snow depth than surrounding lands. During the spring, the herd would follow the retreating snows and growing grasses 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. By the end of the 19th century, the town of Jackson had developed on important winter range and blocked off some of the migration routes used by the elk. The elk herd was severely reduced in size due to the hostile climate and lack of food supply, in addition to hunting pressures by both homesteaders and surrounding Native American tribes (Bannock). A movement to protect the remaining herd and establish greater numbers was commenced in the early 1900s. When the Miller homestead was sold for $45,000 to the federal government, the refuge was established.
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National Elk Refuge Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
1,319 reviews
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4.5
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  • Very well done visitor center. Just know the elk are not in the meadow until winter and snow pushes them down from the high country. Then they are fed over the winter, they stay in area, and the herd ...  more »
  • This is by far one of the best experiences to do in Winter, getting up close to the Elk is wonderful, hearing them buggle and seeing the bulls sparring is great.  more »
  • A visit worth, but very large enough time schedule. Can be used very well itself. Eyes on with great photo opportunities
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  • This refuge is awesome. I loved every minute I spt there. Make sure you visit the Jackson Hole visitors center to get a lesson on Elk and check out their overlook.
  • 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.
  • 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 😟
  • Gorgeous visitors center. The people who work there were extremely helpful.

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