Christmas may be over, but it’s not to late for a winter snow adventure that will rival Santa’s yearly sleigh ride. Now through April 4th, voyagers can hop on a horse drawn sleigh for a scenic tour through the National Elk Refuge. It’s the perfect way to welcome in the New Years with style.
The 24,700 acre, intermountain refuge, located in the Jackson Hole area of northwestern Wyoming, currently “provides, preserves, restores and manages winter habitat for the nationally significant Jackson Elk Herd.” Although mostly know for this elk population – comprised of 11,000 elk that migrate to the area – it also largely serves as winter home to various species of endangered birds, fish and other big game animals.
The sleigh rides are currently being offered on a first-come, first-serve basis everyday from 10am to 4pm, and represent a partnership between the National Elk Refuge and Double H bar, a private sleigh ride contractor in business since 2006.
According to Lori Iverson of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, “It’s a very unique wildlife viewing experience that the refuge couldn’t offer on its own because we don’t have the staff to offer such a quality and specialized experience”.
Although the refuge is six miles wide (at its widest point) and ten miles long, the rides are only permitted on the protected areas of land. Thus, riders must be wary of their surroundings as to not disturb the animals; participants must turn off their cellphones beforehand and will not be allowed to speak loudly or shout during the ride – especially when it drives close to a herd of large male elk – or bulls.
Each sleigh – festively painted red – can carry up to 16 people. Although there will be cushioned benches and colorful wool blankets to drape over yourself, participants should dress warmly during the one-hour ride through the snowy refuge. A ride costs $20.00 for an adult, $15 for children between five and 12 years old, and is free for those younger than five. Private sleighs for 16 are $350.00.
*To learn more about the rides, check out the National Elk Refuge.