Wildlife conservation is at the heart of what makes the National Elk Refuge unique and unparalleled in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Conservation of native species and their habitats is the core management mission of the Refuge.

The Refuge protects critically important winter range for numerous iconic species, including elk, bison, wolves, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, and cutthroat trout. The landscape of the Refuge is primarily glacial outwash plain and rolling hills with a narrow, winding creek. The Refuge is surrounded by the rugged peaks of the Teton and Gros Ventre Mountain Ranges. 

Visit Us

Bull elk on the National Elk Refuge with views of Grand Teton National Park.
Welcome

We invite you to discover Jackson's national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
, the National Elk Refuge.

The 24,700+ acres of grasslands, wetlands, and forests conserved on the Refuge support a diverse assembly of plants and animals. The Refuge is a premier location for wildlife watching and photography, as well as hunting, fishing, and educational opportunities. Through conservation efforts, the Refuge serves to benefit the people of today and future generations. 

plan your trip

Plan your trip through our website or visit us at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center in Jackson, WY. Check us out on Instagram!

where are the elk

Elk are typically visible on the Refuge from mid-December through early April.  In late spring, elk begin migrating off the Refuge toward their summer ranges. Most elk will follow the receding snow line up to higher elevations in Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger Teton National Forest. From October through December, deepening snow push the elk down from high elevation summer ranges to seek food and shelter at lower elevations in Jackson Hole.

Location and Contact Information

      People taking photos of an elk in winter from a sleigh ride
      Winter Sleigh Ride

      Are you visiting the National Elk Refuge in the winter? Follow this link for more information on booking a winter sleigh ride!

      About Us

      A herd of Bighorn sheep grazing during a snowstorm.

      The Refuge was established by various Acts of Congress, executive orders, and other documents to provide, preserve, restore, and manage lands for wintering elk, birds, and other big game animals. The main Act of Congress on August 10, 1912 set aside lands “for the establishment of a winter game (elk) reserve in the State of Wyoming, lying south of the Yellowstone Park . . .”

      Lands now designed as the National Elk Refuge are the Indigenous homelands for a number of different tribes, including, Bannock, Eastern Shoshone, Northern Shoshone, Assiniboine, Athabascans, Comanche, Crow, Aaniiih, Kiowa, Kootenai, Nimiipuu, Salish, Teton Sioux, and Umatilla.

      What We Do

      Sunrise at the Flat Creek observation platform.

      Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
      A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

      Learn more about national wildlife refuge
      is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species. 

      Our Organization

      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 560 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.

      Projects and Research

      A Refuge biologist installs a mechanism to prevent beavers from flooding a road.