National Elk Refuge

National Elk Refuge, Jackson: Hours, Address, National Elk Refuge Reviews: 4.5/5

National Elk Refuge
4.5
Nature & Wildlife Areas
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12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Monday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Tuesday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Wednesday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Thursday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Friday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Saturday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Sunday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
About
A wildlife refuge located north of Jackson, WY that provides winter habitat for Jackson's elk herd. Seasonal hours of operation are listed on the web site for the Visitor Center, Historic Miller Ranch, and Winter Sleigh Ride tours.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
1,804 reviews
Excellent
1,236
Very good
373
Average
144
Poor
22
Terrible
29

DePere
De Pere, WI446 contributions
Jan 2021
I have had the opportunity to visit the Jackson Hole area numerous times during the spring, summer, and autumn season but this was the first time I visited the area during the winter. The National Elk Refuge was at the top of my list to visit.

This review will consist of two parts: the sleigh ride tour of the elk herds and the refuge road scenic drive.

Tickets for the 90-minute sleigh ride tour can be purchased on-line or at the Jackson Visitor Center on the north outskirts of town. The Visitor Center is actually closed due to COVID but a mobile ticket center is operational. We arrived a little after 9:00 A.M to purchase our tickets. The first tour begins at 10 and we were loaded on the bus around 10:10 for the short ride to the refuge. The sleigh’s capacity is 20 guests but they are limiting the tour to 10 due to COVID. On our tour everyone was in compliance in regards to wearing a mask. Blankets can be purchased for $40.

The sleigh is pulled by two draft horses and can be rather bumpy (and cold). Our guide was Bridger and he did an excellent job of discussing the purpose of the refuge and providing information about the elk herd. The herds are massive. We did not see any huge bulls on our tour and Bridger indicated this was the norm as they prefer to form small bachelor groups rather than join the large herds at the refuge. We had three or four stops for photos along the perimeter of the herd. Well worth the $27 fee for the tour.

An even better bargain is the refuge road scenic drive (Free). This road goes through part of the refuge and while we did not see elk on this road, bighorn sheep were prevalent. To find the road, drive past the Jackson hospital and you will arrive at a large National Elk Refuge sign. I have driven this road in the fall and summer and seen very little but this trip we drove the road twice and were delighted to be in close proximity of a large herd of sheep both days (40 to 50). For me this was the highlight of our Jackson stay.
Written February 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Southern_Siren
Nashville, TN264 contributions
Mar 2021 • Couples
The wagon ride onto the refuge was $27 pp so if you have a car, or are staying close, there is no reason to pay for an expensive tour. Tickets are available at the white trailer parked in front of the visitor center. A shuttle will take you to the refuge and bring you back.

Take a blanket with you if it is cool - or you can purchase one from the ticket booth.

It was a short tour and moderately informative ride. Our driver was good spirited and tolerated a very inquisitive group of riders very well. He informed us that his family holds a contract with the federal government to run the excursions, so he grew up doing these tours. They also do rides, camping, and chuck wagon experiences throughout the year (differing locations).

It was nice to get to visit the horses up close after the ride. They are HUGE.

You can drive around the refuge and there are trails around the backside over the butte. I’m sure you can find most of the info on the website 😅 but it’s nice to hear the details from a live person.

We stayed at Rustic Inn, just up the way and didn’t realize until our last few days that we had a direct view to the refuge from a park across the street. 😅
Written April 3, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

CharlesC722
Dawsonville, GA26 contributions
Jan 2021
Although we had book a Wednesday morning tour on our way from the airport on Monday we saw large numbers of Elk already on the refuge so we immediately stopped and purchased our tickets. After a short five minute van ride we boarded a wagon with a wonderful guide that took us right into the center of the heard. We saw everything from massive bulls to small cows. In addition our guide provided a very informative talk about the refuge , its history, mission and operation. It was definitely worth the price. Just be sure to dress warmly and don`t be surprised by a bumpy ride.
Written January 17, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

mca602017
Macon, GA17 contributions
Mar 2022
You MUST go!!!!!! It was easy to sign up, the cost was reasonable, the shuttle out was nice, our driver was knowledgeable and made sure that all of our questions were answered. It was amazing to see the animals.......I HIGHLY recommend this experience!!!!!
Written March 4, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

marts03
Poughkeepsie, NY87 contributions
Dec 2020
Visiting the National Elk Refuge is safe and easy despite Covid. Tickets are available for purchase on-line or at the Jackson Hole Visitors Center. A school or shuttle bus drives the ~2 miles to where the horse-drawn sleighs are. And then the sleigh ride itself is about 1 hour with about 10 people. Although outside, masks are required as it is not possible to space 6 feet in the sled. Also, blankets are not provided due to Covid so bring your own if needed. The time in the sleigh was both informative as well as impressive being close to so many elk. After the ride, you can get pictures of the horses and then hop back on the bus to the Visitors Center. This is a great experience for people of all ages.
Written December 24, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

duck8to
Montville, NJ6,751 contributions
Sep 2019
The National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole Wyoming was established by an Act of Congress in 1912 It is one of 568 National Refuges. Prior to 1912 elk migrated through this area for centuries. One end of the refuge is located near the Jackson Visitor Center. It is here in the winter that tickets can be bought for their sleigh ride to see the elk. From the visitor center and van takes you to where the sleighs are located. The sleighs take you into the refuge to where the elk are located. You can not get out of the sleigh and binoculars are a real asset. Blankets are available for use. With wind and temperatures in the 20's or lower, blankets are useful. The mini -vans run every 20 minutes during the season.

As a National Refuge, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, wildlife photography, education and interpretation are acceptable uses of the refuge. There is an observation deck at the visitor center.

The refuge is 6 miles wide and 10 miles long. Predominate trees are aspen, blue spruce, willow and Douglas fir. The topography of the land consists mostly of marsh ta and meadows with some rocky outcrops. The elevation ranges from 6,300-7,200. There are roads that will take you into the refuge. Dawn and dusk are key times if you want to see wildlife. Most other times in the day you are likely to see nothing. Elk, pronghorn sheep, mule deer, moose, coyote, wolves, bear and a large assortment of birds can be seen at times.
Written August 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

mammadeluca
Frankfort, NY358 contributions
Feb 2020 • Family
We stopped at the visitor center in Jackson, which, by the way, is a great center with gifts & educational displays, and discovered the sleigh rides through the center. You purchase tickets for sleigh ride at the center and a van/bus brings you up the road to the place where the sleighs are ready to load. No private vehicles are allowed at the place where the sleighs are. The ride out to the elk can be a little bumpy and cold but they do provide very warm blankets to cover up with. Our guide was very informative about the elk & preserve. You get close enough to the elk for great photo opportunities without scaring them. The view of the Grand Tetons in the background is just stunning. I highly recommend this amazing opportunity to see the elk. You do not feed them or get out of the sleigh for safety reasons. We saw a beautiful bald eagle, a coyote and thousands of elk on this adventure.
Written February 26, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Hope S
5 contributions
Dec 2019 • Couples
My boyfriend and I went March 2019. I was just irritated that someone claimed the cover photo is fake. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, it’s not fake, and I attached photos I took myself. I’m sure the time of year you go has a lot to do with it. We had a great trip. The sun was out so it was actually quite warm. They provided blankets in the sled just in case (pre-COVID). Not sure what they do now. The elk were used to the sleigh and didn’t run away. We did have someone in the sled that felt the need to start making noises with their mouth and that caused a few elk to get up, and wonder away. Don’t be that person. I would definitely do this activity again. The guide was very friendly, knowledgeable and people did give him cash tips.
Written November 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Krissy765
Indianapolis, IN133 contributions
Sep 2020 • Family
This is a fun distraction while driving to the Tetons National Park. One morning we were surprised buy the running elk. It was really exciting watching them run fairly close to the traffic. Lots of people capturing photos
Written September 30, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

nolajanie
New Orleans, LA36 contributions
Feb 2020
We called ahead to make a reservation for 3:30pm but were able to take an earlier tour as they leave about every 20 minutes. Reservations are really not necessary as the tours are frequent. The guides were knowledgeable and who doesn't like a sleigh ride drawn by beautiful horses. Blankets are provided....temps were in the low 20s F and skies a little overcast but we wore ski jackets and were comfortable. I wouldn't do it again, but also think it is worthwhile and a must do for any visit to Jackson Hole! Great for solo, couples, family!
Written March 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about National Elk Refuge

National Elk Refuge is open:
  • Sun - Sat 12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
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We recommend booking National Elk Refuge tours ahead of time to secure your spot. If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel up to 24 hours before your tour starts for a full refund. See all 13 National Elk Refuge tours on Tripadvisor