U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Elk Refuge
National Wildlife Refuge

Vast numbers of elk feed in the snow on the National Elk Refuge in front of the snow-capped Grand Teton Mountains.
P.O. Box 510
Jackson, WY   83001
E-mail: nationalelkrefuge@fws.gov
Phone Number: 307-733-9212
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Thousands of elk spend the winter at the National Elk Refuge.
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  Recreation and Education Opportunities

Environmental Education
An environmental education marsh study area accessible by boardwalk directly behind the visitor center on North Cache Street in Jackson provides and excellent location for learning about wetlands. Environmental education programs are conducted for local schools and the public at the visitor center. The Refuge staff works closely with the local Teton Science School to conduct a wide range of environmental education programs on the Refuge.

Trout fishing for Snake River Cutthroat Trout is popular on Flat Creek, a meandering meadow stream that runs through the Refuge. Fishing is permitted from August 1 through October.

Elk hunting, requiring both a special Refuge permit and a state elk license, is available on 15,000 acres of the Refuge from late October until early December. Please contact Refuge staff for complete details.

A horse-drawn sleigh ride tour into the heart of the Refuge for a close-up look at the elk herd is the premier Refuge interpretive experience. Knowledgeable drivers and, on most sleighs, Refuge interpreters discuss the Refuge and its wildlife. These interpretive sleigh rides operate daily between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm from mid-December through late March from the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center at 532 N. Cache Street in Jackson. There is a fee for the sleigh rides. Visitors to the Center can also learn about elk, wildlife and management of the Refuge through video programs, exhibits, and Refuge interpreters.

Wildlife Observation
The winter season, between November and April, is the best time to view elk and other wildlife on the National Elk Refuge. A spectacle of thousands of migratory elk can be seen wintering on the Refuge, as well as numerous other species such as bison, bighorn sheep, coyotes, trumpeter swans, moose, bald eagles, and more.

To protect Refuge wildlife and their habitats, public use activities, including photography, are primarily confined to the main, unpaved roads and turnouts within the Refuge and the turnouts along U.S. Highway 26/191. Wildlife observation decks at the Flat Creek turnout north of the visitor center on Highway 26/191 and at the visitor center itself offer good opportunities for waterfowl, bird, and wildlife photography, particularly in the spring, summer, and fall. The best opportunity for close-up elk photography and observation is from the horse-drawn sleigh ride tours.

The National Elk Refuge and its main public roadway through the Refuge are open year-round, 24 hours a day. Some satellite roadways and access to the nearby National Forest are closed from December 1 through April 30 each year for big game winter range protection.

Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, a multi-partner center located on the Refuge north of Jackson also functions as the Refuge visitor center. It is open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas days. The visitor center's hours vary by season.

Entrance Fees
The Refuge does not charge an entrance fee.

Use Fees
There is a fee for the sleigh ride tours that are conducted during the winter months. A fee of $1.00 is charged to apply for a drawing for a refuge permit for an anterless elk hunt as part of an elk management program.
- Refuge Profile Page -