HYRUM — Have you ever wanted to take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through a herd of wild elk? If so, this is your golden opportunity.
The annual Elk Festival, which celebrates the start of elk-viewing season, will be held at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area on Dec. 8. The fun is slated to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
There will be several free activities for visitors to enjoy, including expert lessons on how to call elk. Those who feel confident in their abilities can even participate in the amateur elk-calling contest at the end of the event.
Additionally, kids can learn how to make crafts like pinecone bird feeders or Christmas ornaments from sagebrush, bitterbrush and other native plants found at the ranch.
The biggest attraction, however, is the horse-drawn sleigh and wagon rides that go through hundreds of wild elk. According to Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area Manager Brad Hunt, roughly 300 elk are currently on the hills near the meadow through which the riders will travel.
"They’re bugling and talking a lot in the evenings," Hunt said. "It’s cold, so the elk will likely stick around and not head back to the high country. More elk should join them soon."
The sleigh and wagon rides begin on Dec. 7 and will continue each weekend through Feb. 10. These rides are the only activities at the ranch that cost money, and tickets can be purchased at the visitor center. They cost $5 for riders older than 9 and $3 for those ages 4 to 8.
The visitor center will be closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and there are no sleigh rides offered on those days. You’re still welcome to visit the ranch, and if you bring binoculars, you can view the elk from a distance.
Hardware Ranch is located about 16 miles east of Hyrum on state Route 101. To learn more about the ongoing events and see the visitor center's hours of operation, visit the Hardware Ranch website or call 435-753-6206.