HYRUM – Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area, located at the top of Blacksmith Fork Canyon east of Hyrum, has started another elk-viewing season.
“We have about 500 elk out in the field right now and we are expecting 2,000 people out on our opening weekend,” said Marni Lee, Hardware Ranch Utah Division of Wildlife Resources education coordinator. “We generally have 20,000-30,000 visitors in the winter.”
The ranch has four draft horse teams and they lease some to keep their four wagons going. The wagons carry 100 people every half hour.
“This is the best time of the year for people to come out and see wildlife and be outdoors,” she said. ”We tag the deer and elk so we can keep track of them.”
Although the property is open year round, the winter gets most of the visitor traffic, Lee said.
“Our purpose at Hardware Ranch is to manage about 14,000 acres of hunting and wildlife,” she said. “We are not a refuge, so people can hunt out here and our elk is the most hunted game on the property.”
Hunting is allowed on the property if hunters have the right license.
During summer, the ranch grows feed on the property, which they use to feed the elk in the winter. They leave some in the ground without harvesting it to give the elk some feed in the field.
“Right now they are using three Belgian draft horses to pull the 20 person sleigh because the ground is muddy and the runners are cutting through the snow,” said Chance Getz, one of the sleigh operators and guides. “I really like being outdoors working with horses and talking about elk,” he said.
The elk don’t mind the horse drawn sleighs, but they would scatter easily if people got off and started to walk amongst them, he said.
Getz is the farm manager of the American West Heritage Center during other parts of the year; he works at Hardware Ranch during the winter when the farm is slumbering.
The Ranch accepts cash, check and credit or debit cards, but if possible, please bring cash or a check to pay for the wagon rides in case the Internet service is down and credit or debit card payments are not available. All sales are final. No refunds.
Ticket sales close at 4:30 p.m. You must have your ticket purchased and be in line by 4:30 p.m. Hardware Ranch does not take reservations or sell tickets in advance. Rides are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. If there is a line for rides, you must wait outside in line for the next available ride.
Please let them know if you, or someone in a group, needs special accommodations and Hardware Ranch staff will provide a ramp or step to help them get on the wagon.
There are a few rules for people riding wagons through the elk. Other than service dogs, no animals are allowed. No food or beverages allowed. Riders must stay in the wagon.