Refuge Description


The National Elk Refuge consists of 24,700 acres of intermountain valley in the Jackson Hole area of northwestern Wyoming. The Refuge is within Teton County and is bounded on the south by the Town of Jackson, on the east by Bridger–Teton National Forest, and on the north by Grand Teton National Park. 

The National Elk Refuge is a national wildlife refuge. The National Wildlife Refuge System includes more than 566 national wildlife refuges, spanning approximately 100 million acres of lands and 750 million acres of oceans, in the United States.

Wildlife Refuges are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the primary federal agency responsible for conserving and enhancing the nation's fish and wildlife populations and their habitats. Although the Service shares this responsibility with other federal, state, tribal, local, and private entities, it has specific trust responsibilities for migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, and certain anadromous fish and marine mammals. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also has similar trust responsibilities for the land and waters it administers to support the conservation and enhancement of fish and wildlife. The agency is required to manage the National Elk Refuge to meet refuge purposes and to contribute to the agency's mission-related mandates.

The Refuge is six miles wide at its widest point and ten miles long from southwest to northeast. The elevation varies from 6,200 feet to 7,200 feet. The Teton Range, visible to the west, rise to 13,766 feet at the summit of Grand Teton. The valley and surrounding mountains show classic examples of glaciation.

The northern half of the Refuge consists of steep, rolling hills. The southern half is glacial washout material, with one resistant formation -- Miller Butte -- rising approximately 500 feet above the valley floor.

Much of the Refuge consists of grassy meadows and marshes on the valley floor. The flood plain forest along the Gros Ventre River contains blue spruce, narrowleaf cottonwood, red osier dogwood, and willow as major species. There are extensivve areas of big sagebrush and rocky outcroppings. The forested areas of lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, and aspen are mostly on the northern slopes of the Gros Ventre hills.