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National Elk Refuge Jackson Hole | Best Time to Visit, Hours, Location

National Elk Refuge


5 Things You Need To Know

Best Time to Visit National Elk Refuge

The best time to visit the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, largely depends on your interests:

  • December 1 - April 30: This period is optimal for wildlife enthusiasts, especially elk viewing. The road is open for 3.5 miles, offering unique winter wildlife experiences. Keep in mind that it's slightly less accessible during winter due to road conditions.

  • May 1 - November 30: If you prefer easier access and milder weather, this is the time to explore the refuge. During this period, the Refuge Road is open to the National Forest access roads, making it more accessible for various outdoor activities like hiking and bird watching.

The choice of when to visit depends on whether you want to witness the winter gathering of elk or explore the refuge in more temperate conditions. Each season offers its own unique charm and experiences.


The National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, offers a diverse range of activities for visitors to enjoy:

  1. Wildlife Viewing: It's a prime location for observing wildlife, including elk, sheep, deer, and various bird species. Don't forget your binoculars and camera for an up-close wildlife experience.

  2. Photography: With its stunning natural landscapes and abundant wildlife, the refuge is a paradise for photographers. Capture the beauty of this unique ecosystem.

  3. Hunting: During certain seasons, the refuge permits regulated hunting. Be sure to check the hunting regulations and guidelines if you plan to engage in this activity.

  4. Fishing: Nearby waters, like Flat Creek, offer opportunities for fishing. Enjoy a tranquil day by the water, trying your luck at catching fish.

  5. Biking: Exploring the area on a bike is a fantastic way to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Biking trails offer a unique perspective of the refuge.

Winter Sleigh Rides

Experience the magic of winter at the National Elk Refuge with a horse-drawn sleigh ride. Highlights include:

  • Scenic Landscapes: Enjoy breathtaking views, including the iconic Grand Tetons, against a snowy backdrop.

  • Largest Migrating Elk Herd: Witness the awe-inspiring sight of the largest migrating elk herd in North America during the winter.

  • Abundant Wildlife: Keep an eye out for eagles, coyotes, foxes, badgers, bison, deer, wolves, and even trumpeter swans, making your journey even more remarkable.


  • Adults: $38

  • Children (Age 5-12): $23

  • Toddlers & Infants (Age 4 & Under): Free

This winter sleigh ride is an unforgettable adventure for the whole family, offering a unique blend of natural beauty and wildlife encounters.

Hiking Trails

The National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, offers a selection of hiking trails for those who love to explore on foot:

  1. Crystal Butte National Forest Access Trail: This challenging trail spans 0.56 miles and is open from May 1 to November 30. It offers steep terrain and is best suited for experienced hikers seeking a demanding adventure.

  2. Curtis Canyon National Forest Access Trail: Covering 0.15 miles, this trail is also open from May 1 to November 30. It's a short but strenuous hike, providing a quick outdoor experience.

  3. Dry Hollow Trail: This trail spans 0.99 miles and is considered moderately difficult. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and is open from May 1 to November 30. This trail is a great choice for those looking for a more balanced hiking experience.

Jackson National Fish Hatchery

The Jackson National Fish Hatchery is an excellent destination for those interested in aquatic life and outdoor activities. Here's what you can enjoy during your visit:

  • Fish Hatchery Tour: Explore the fish hatchery's production site, where you can learn about the breeding and conservation efforts for various fish species.

  • Picnic: Relax by a scenic pond and have a picnic amidst the natural beauty of the area.

  • Fishing: The hatchery provides an opportunity to enjoy some fishing, making it a great spot for anglers.

Operating Hours:

  • Open daily from 10 AM to 4 PM


  • The hatchery is located 3.5 miles north of the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center on Highway 191.

It's a perfect place for both education and outdoor relaxation in the picturesque Jackson Hole region.

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