Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Thursday, December 08, 2005

View Elk and Bighorn Sheep

Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources provided the two new releases below, highlighting great opportunities to view interesting local wildlife.

Elk Viewing Begins Dec. 15 at Hardware Ranch

Taking a sleigh ride through the middle of hundreds of wild elk are among the activities people can enjoy at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area this winter.

A new season of viewing elk at the ranch begins Dec. 15.

Elk began arriving in the meadow at the ranch on Dec 1. Heavy snow will continue to push elk into the meadow through most of the winter.

Sleigh Rides

Hardware Ranch has been offering horse-drawn rides to view the elk for more than 30 years. When there’s snow, big draft horses pull 25-person sleighs through the herd. When there isn’t enough snow, the horses pull wagons. During the rides, Division of Wildlife Resources personnel talk with visitors about the elk and the other animals at the ranch. They also provide a short history about the ranch and talk about its habitat.

While the rides are the main attraction, Hardware Ranch is also well known for its informative visitor center and the excellent food served in the Hardware Café. Stock Crossing Catering is operating the restaurant this year. The restaurant is open on Saturdays and Sundays and offers a full-service menu.

Operating Hours

The ranch is open for business Thursdays through Mondays, from noon to 5 p.m. The sleigh rides and visitor center open at noon. On Saturdays, the ranch is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with rides beginning at 10 a.m. Ride tickets cost $5 for those ages 9 and above and $3 for children ages 4 to 8. Children under 3 years old can ride for free. Tickets may be purchased in the visitor center. Please purchase your tickets before 4:30 p.m., which is when the last ride of the day leaves.

The restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. Prices range from $4.50 to $7.95 per meal. Hot drinks and snacks are also available.

A “moonlight sleigh ride and dinner” package is also offered every Saturday night beginning New Year’s Eve. The package includes a wagon ride among the elk and an all-you-can-eat Dutch oven and prime rib buffet for $25 per person. The ranch will also offer moonlight rides on Valentine’s Day this year. Reservations are required for all of the moonlight packages and may be made by calling (435) 753-6206.

Programs for school children begin in January. The programs include two-hours of educational activities that are tied to the core curriculum and are focused on elk. The program also includes a ride through the elk herd.

To reserve a time for a program, school teachers can call (435) 753-6206 or send an e-mail to marnilee@utah.gov.

How to Get There

The Hardware Ranch WMA is located at Mile Marker 22 on east State Road 101 in Blacksmith Fork Canyon. The ranch is about 115 miles north (about a 2-hour drive) from Salt Lake City. It’s about 17 miles east of Hyrum and 22 miles southeast of Logan.

Good lodging, food and entertainment are readily available in Cache Valley, within 45 minutes of the ranch. The roads up Blacksmith Fork Canyon are usually plowed and sanded by noon each day.

For more information about the Hardware Ranch WMA, call (435) 753-6206 or visit www.Hardwareranch.com on the Web.

Lots Happening Through the Year

Personnel at Hardware raise all of the hay that is fed to the elk through the winter. The ranch also includes facilities and equipment to conduct numerous wildlife and habitat studies, including grazing programs that promote healthy rangelands and reduce fire danger in forests.

The ranch is owned and operated by the Division of Wildlife Resources as a resting and feeding area for big game animals, including elk, deer and moose. The ranch’s managers are also working to develop year-round educational programs and to provide improved recreational opportunities for the public. Hardware Ranch is already a prime location for hunting and fishing and is seeing a marked increase in the number of people who visit the ranch through the year to view wildlife.

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View Bighorn Sheep in Provo on Dec. 17

A chance to view bighorn sheep in the foothills east of Provo awaits Dec. 17 at a free bighorn sheep viewing event. The Division of Wildlife Resources will host the free event at Rock Canyon Park in Provo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Rock Canyon Park is at 2620 N. and 1200 E. (Iroquois Dr) just northeast of the Provo LDS Temple. Biologists will be on hand with spotting scopes and binoculars to help visitors spot bighorn sheep and to answer questions.

Before the viewing event begins, a 40-minute presentation about these magnificent animals will be given at the Springville DWR office at 1115 N. Main St in Springville. The presentation by BYU student Loren Chase and DWR Conservation Outreach Manager Scott Root begins at 9 a.m. The presentation is limited to 60 participants and reservations must be made in advance by calling Root at (801) 491-5656.

There is no limit to the number of people who can view the sheep at Rock Canyon Park, and reservations are not required for the viewing event. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars or spotting scopes and to dress warmly.

Directions to Rock Canyon Park

From I-15 take either the University Parkway or Provo Center Street exits. Drive east to 900 East. Turn north on 900 E. to Temple View Drive (east of the Missionary Training Center at approximately 1900 North). On Temple View Drive, proceed east past the LDS Temple (the road will curve to the north). At the stop sign, continue north (the road is now called Iroquois Drive) about 200 yards. Rock Canyon Park is on the east side of Iroquois Drive at 2620 North.

Wild Sheep Are Making a Comeback

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are native to Utah and had climbed the hills of Utah County until about 1930 when sheep in the northern portion of Utah were thought to be extinct in that part of the state. Since January 2000, many bighorn sheep have been reintroduced into the mountains overlooking Utah County’s larger cities (from American Fork Canyon to Nebo Mountain) through a joint effort among the Utah Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, the Division of Wildlife Resources, sportsman and conservation groups, and private citizens.

Utah is home to three subspecies of bighorn sheep. Desert bighorns live in several locations in southern Utah. California bighorn sheep have been trans-located to Antelope Island State Park and the Newfoundland Mountain range. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are found at several Utah locations, including Utah County, Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains, Desolation Canyon and Dinosaur National Monument.

The Utah County bighorn sheep population is thriving and now numbers more than 100 animals.

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