Refuge Access Regulations


Refuge access is restricted to open public roads and trails designated as “authorized routes.” All other foot, vehicle, bicycle, and horse travel is strictly prohibited. 


Winter Information 

Only the first 3½ miles of the Refuge Road is open from December 1 through April 30 each year in order to protect wintering wildlife. The closure includes both Curtis Canyon and Flat Creek roads. A Winter Wildlife Viewing Guide, including a map, is available on the Maps tab of our web site. 

Elk and bison hunters with National Elk Refuge permits will be allowed to drive through the closure to access hunt parking lots during the days their permits are valid. Hunters must drive directly to the designated lots to park prior to hunting. No public travel beyond the closure will be allowed after the hunting seasons conclude.

The Refuge Road is a popular destination in the winter as elk, bighorn sheep, and other animals can frequently be seen close to the roadway, providing both wildlife viewing and photography opportunities. Travelers on the roadway often stop, park, or leave vehicles unattended while observing wildlife, obstructing the safe movement and passing of other vehicles. While visitors are encouraged to take advantage of the rich wildlife viewing opportunities during the winter months, drivers that want to extend photography and wildlife viewing experiences should pull off the roadway, safely park, and allow for the free movement of other traffic.

Travelers on the Refuge Road should also note that nearby bighorn sheep often approach vehicles and lick the sides of a car or truck in search of salt commonly used on roadways. This causes the animals to tightly congregate near the road and makes them more susceptible to sharing diseases. Visitors are asked to discourage the action and refrain from promoting unsafe wildlife viewing practices. More information is available on winter wildlife viewing, along with specific considerations about viewing bighorn sheep on the Refuge Road.


Spring Information     

Starting May 1 at midnight, the Refuge Road on the National Elk Refuge opens to public travel beyond the county-maintained line. This allows access to the Curtis Canyon and Flat Creek Roads and the adjoining Bridger-Teton National Forest. This area is closed each winter from December 1 through midnight on May 1 to protect wintering wildlife. A copy of the Refuge Access Regulations handout for the May 1 opening is available through this link 

To avoid confusion, midnight on May 1 in our outreach information refers to one minute after 11:59 pm on April 30.

Overnight parking on the Refuge Road is not allowed on April 30. 

No visitor use will be allowed on the Refuge after legal sunset on April 30 per Refuge regulations. Lawful access to Twin Creek Ranches sub-division will be available.

Access across the Gros Ventre River is a prohibited access onto or through the National Elk Refuge without a legal permit during hunting season.

Information regarding parking options, restrictions, and enforcement within the Town of Jackson is available at or by telephone at (307) 733-1430. 


Collecting Natural Products

It is illegal to take, collect, retrieve, possess, sell, purchase, or transport any natural product, including shed antlers, from the Refuge. This regulation is strictly enforced. 

Possession of natural products, including shed antlers, is restricted to the Refuge’s authorized access routes. Any possession of natural products on the Refuge outside an authorized route is prohibited and will result in seizure of the items regardless of where they were collected.  

Authorized Routes  

Refuge access is restricted to open public roads and trails designated as “authorized routes.” All visitors and residents using the open portion of the Refuge Road should note that travel is confined to the roadway only.  Dogs are also limited to the roadway and must be leashed at all times.  

All other foot, vehicle, bicycle, and horse travel is strictly prohibited. This includes travel between the Refuge and adjacent National Forest lands. You must be on an authorized route at all times while within the Refuge boundary. 

Authorized routes include:  

Refuge Road and Miller Butte National Forest Access Trail
The Miller Butte National Forest access trail starts on the Refuge Road east of Miller Butte and provides direct access to the Bridger-Teton National Forest, as marked.

Curtis Canyon Road and National Forest Access Trail
From the junction with Flat Creek Road to the boundary of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. This includes the Curtis Canyon National Forest access trail, as marked, that starts at the Forest Service information board.

Flat Creek Road and Dry Hollow National Forest Access Trail
From the Refuge entrance on East Broadway to the boundary of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. This includes the East parking lot and the Dry Hollow National Forest access trail, as marked. 

Other Year-Round Restrictions

Obstructing other vehicles by stopping or parking on the road is prohibited.

Foot travel off the roadway is restricted to the immediate area of the roadway (approximately 15 feet) as signed.

Camping and overnight parking are not allowed.

Campfires and warming fires are not allowed.

Attempting to or disturbing, injuring, destroying, or collecting any plant or animal is prohibited.

Public intoxication is strictly prohibited.

Possession and discharge of fireworks is prohibited.

Animals are restricted to the Refuge Road and approved routes. All animals, including dogs and horses, must be restrained at all times.

Animal waste must be collected and properly disposed.

Pets must be leashed at all times. 

Hay must be certified weed free.

All food and garbage must be stored inside vehicles or trailers.

Littering is prohibited.

Administration and service roads are closed to all public access.