Hardware Ranch Elk Festival file

Elk gather in the meadow at Hardware Ranch in December 2016.

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Annual elk-viewing rides are underway at Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area in Blacksmith Fork Canyon.

Manager of the ranch Brad Hunt said the rides are an opportunity for people to interact more closely with wildlife.

“Wildlife is often something that we see from a distance,” Hunt said, “not necessarily up close.”

According to Hunt, the horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides will last about 20 to 25 minutes. Visitors will be taken through the herd of elk.

A presentation from their driver will address elk biology, some of the research done at Hardware Ranch and some of the management area’s history.

Hunt said the tradition of elk-viewing rides at the management area began in 1950 and has evolved over the years.

As people are able to view the animals and learn about them, Hunt said he hopes this encourages people to be more conscientious about how they use the landscape.

“Now they are thinking, ‘I share this with elk,’ or ‘I share this with deer,’” Hunt said.

Hunt said understanding the shared nature of the land may cause people to modify their behaviors in a way that helps protect and conserve spaces for wildlife.

Tickets for the rides can be purchased at the visitor center. Ride tickets are $3 for those ages 4 to 8 and $5 for those ages 9 and older. Children 3 and younger are free.

The visitor center at Hardware Ranch will be open noon to 4:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday until Feb. 10.

Monday through Thursday the visitor center is closed and elk viewing rides are not offered.

Rides begin every half-hour when visitation numbers are lower. When the number of visitors is higher, rides will run constantly throughout the day.

The ranch area can be used for other winter recreation, such as snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing throughout the week, as long as the signs with information directing proper use are followed. A pit toilet is also available outside of visitor center hours.

Hardware Ranch is located 15 miles east of Hyrum in Blacksmith Fork Canyon. More specific directions to get to the ranch can be found on wildlife.utah.gov by searching “visit Hardware Ranch.”

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