Rules and Regulations


The National Elk Refuge has fewer recreational activities than on other neighboring federal lands. This is because of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's mission and strong commitment to the protection of wildlife and habitat. Consequently, if an activity is not wildlife related and doesn’t aid in the protection or understanding of wildlife or their habitat, there may be refuge rules governing the activity.


Special regulations may apply during your visit to the National Elk Refuge, including the following:

Recreational activities, including walking, biking, and jogging, are restricted to the main Refuge Road, Curtis Canyon and Flat Creek Roads, the multi-use pathway on the west side of the Refuge, and designated trails. No off-road travel is allowed. These activities must not interfere with vehicle traffic or other public use along the roadway. On all other areas of the Refuge, special restrictions apply.

Pets are permitted only on the main Refuge roadways and must be on a leashed and under the control of the owner at all times. Dog waste must be collected and removed from the Refuge. Pets are not allowed on the multi-use pathway.

Stopping or parking a vehicle on Refuge roads is prohibited. Please use pullouts provided. Motor vehicles must be State registered and street legal.

It is illegal to collect, possess, sell, purchase, or transport any natural product, including shed antlers, from the Refuge unless the item was legally obtained through a permit or license. 

To protect wintering wildlife, only the first 3.5 miles of the Refuge Road are open to public use from December 1 through April 30. Access regulations are available for individuals traveling through the Refuge to the Bridger-Teton National Forest on or near May 1.

Fishing and hunting occur on the Refuge during specific times of year. Special licenses or permits are required. Information on seasons and regulations is available at the visitor center or at the Refuge administrative offices.

Camping or night parking on the Refuge are not permitted.

News photography, professional filming, and commercial activities require a Special Use Permit, which can be obtained at the Refuge administrative offices.

All hay transported through the Refuge must be certified weed free.

Firearms are prohibited in Federal facilities, including the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, Refuge administrative offices, and the Historic Miller House.Knives with blades greater than 2½ inches are also prohibited. 

Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands must comply with all provisions of State and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32). 

It's illegal to launch, land, or retrieve Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, on Refuge lands. Operators are required to familiarize themselves with a comply with all applicable restrictions in the areas where they are flying. Because of the Refuge's proximity to a major airport and two helibases, and because of frequent area helicopter use for wildfire, rescues, and wildlife management, drones are a serious threat to human life and safety.