No sleigh rides yet this year at Hardware Ranch – Cache Valley Daily

A file photo of Chance Getz, one of the sled drivers and guides, stops to talk to his elk passengers at the Hardware Ranch in December 2019,

HYRUM – Hardware Ranch will not be doing sleigh rides this year due to the long-standing drought that has taken its toll on food grown to feed elk during the winter. Last year, the global pandemic forced the Utah Division of Wildlife to cancel sleigh rides.

Jonathan Gomez of We Paint in Salt Lake City is putting a new coat of paint on the walls of the Wildlife Education Center at the Hardware Ranch on Monday, November 23, 2021.

Brad Hunt, the director of the 1,400-acre Wildlife Management Area, said they raise about a fifth of the food they usually produce.

“We used all of our water rights early and even bought additional water rights. We still didn’t have enough water to cultivate what we needed, ”he said. “We thought it was best to keep what we had for our disease surveillance program.

They hope to trap 25 newborn male and 25 female elk this year and tape them with radio collars to track their migration.

Year after year, hundreds of families have enjoyed riding in horse-drawn sleds as guides teach their passengers about wild elk. Although sleigh rides aren’t offered at this popular winter destination, Hunt invites the public to visit the new education center.

“We’re making changes to the visitor center and calling it the Wildlife Education Center,” Hunt said. “We’re adding displays, paintings, and installing telescopes and binoculars so people can see elk up close at a distance. “

Hardware Ranch 16 miles east of Hyrum to Blacksmith Fork Canyon has canceled their annual Elk sleigh rides due to prolonged drought in Cache Valley.

Educational technicians will be there to teach a variety of subjects and have worked with schools in the past. They will be ready to teach on topics like predators, prey, migration patterns, antlers, horns and things like that.

For those wishing to view elk from a moderate distance, the drive to Hardware Ranch is just 16 miles east of Hyrum, all the way to Blacksmith Fork Canyon on State Route 101. Authorities suggest you go. dress warmly and prepare a lunch.

“The Education Center will be open from December 10, 2021 to February 13, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,” he said. “We are also working on podcasts which people can turn their radio to a station and hear what they would hear if they were on a sled crossing the moose. “

Over the past few years, DWR hosted an Elk Festival, but it became so popular that there wasn’t enough space for the crowds.

“We’re expanding the Elk Festival,” Hunt said. “We’ll be doing something different every month or weekend instead of cramming it all into one set day.”

A COVID mask on a moose at the Wildlife Education Center at Hardware Ranch on Monday, November 23, 2021.

In the past, the Visitor Center had a full school bus schedule for students to learn about Hardware Ranch. They expect the same to happen this year after the kids return to school in January until mid-February, when the season ends.

The two viewing areas outside the center will offer great views of the elk every day of the week.

Besides watching the elk and the activity, hiking the Curtis Creek Trail in the Wildlife Management Area is a great way to get away from it all and take in the beauty of the area. Great trout fishing is also available in the Blacksmith Fork River, which runs through the canyon leading to the ranch.

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