Popular outdoors tradition returns to northern Utah after cancellations last 2 winters

A sleigh carries visitors through Hardware Wildlife Management Area near Hyrum on Dec. 21, 2019. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said the sleigh rides are back this winter after nearly three years.

A sleigh carries visitors through Hardware Wildlife Management Area near Hyrum on Dec. 21, 2019. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said the sleigh rides are back this winter after nearly three years. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

HYRUM — Horse-drawn sleigh rides are a Hardware Wildlife Management Area tradition dating back to the 1950s, offering visitors a unique way to view elk herds in northern Utah during the winter.

However, two completely different issues brought the rides to a grinding halt the past two years.

Public health concerns tied to the COVID-19 pandemic at the tail end of 2020 resulted in the first cancellation. Then, the state's ongoing drought severely impacted hay production, resulting in the second-straight cancellation, as wildlife managers had to ration the hay used to feed and draw the elk into Blacksmith Fork Canyon.

With a better grip on both situations this winter, wildlife officials said Tuesday that the tradition is returning for the first time since the 2019-20 winter. The rides will resume on Dec. 2 and run between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Feb. 12, 2023.

Cache County's Haviland's Old West Adventures will operate the sleigh service. Each ride costs $10 for people 9 and older, $4 for children between 4 and 8 years of age, and is free for children 3 years old or younger. The rides last about 40 minutes. Haviland's will also have a food trailer at the wildlife management area, where patrons can buy lunch.

Brad Hunt, manager of the wildlife management area, said large crowds are expected this winter because it's the first time sleigh rides are back. He adds that Sundays are a good option because fewer people visit the area on those days.

"We're excited to be able to offer the sleigh rides again at the Hardware (Wildlife Management Area) and to have Haviland's as our partner in these efforts," he said, in a statement. "We know they'll do a great job."

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.

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