Campus Life

It's Lovely Weather for a Sleigh Ride Together

The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman or the Hard News Café, or both, for inclusion in Utah State Today.

It's Lovely Weather for a Sleigh Ride Together
By Kandice Crompton in The Utah Statesman, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009
The Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area is a working ranch and elk refuge located 15 miles up Blacksmith Fork Canyon on 14,000 acres of land. Hundreds of people visit the ranch every day to take a sleigh ride through the elk, check out the visitor’s center and enjoy nature.
According to the Hardware Ranch Web site,, “The Wildlife Management Area promotes year round public access for watchable wildlife, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation”.
As an elk refuge, their Web site says 500-600 elk visit the refuge each winter.
Becca Moses, parks and recreation junior and snowmobile interpreter at the ranch, said there are no fences to keep elk on the refuge — they are free to come and go as they like. The elk come back for food, she said.
“They just hang around because we feed them,” Moses said. “We feed them enough, but not too much.”
The main activity offered at Hardware Ranch is the sleigh ride through the elk refuge.
“Most people who come here come for the sleigh rides,” Moses said.
Moses said while on sleigh rides, sleigh drivers educate their passengers on elk and other animals in the area. There are eight sleigh drivers employed by Hardware Ranch, four sleighs and five teams of horses, she said. The sleighs leave anytime a sleigh gets full, Moses said, which is about 20 people.
Hardware Ranch also has snowmobile and hiking trails. Moses said snowmobile rentals are not offered at the ranch, but snowmobiles are welcome in the area.
According to the Hardware Ranch Web site, there are 15 miles of streams for fishing that are open year round for anyone with fishing licenses.
Moses estimated that Hardware Ranch averaged 600-800 visitors a day during the winter. She also said that Saturday, Jan. 3, was the busiest day so far this season, with 1,300 visitors.
The Hardware Ranch is open four days a week. Saturday and Sunday the visitors center opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Monday and Friday it opens at 12 p.m. and closes at 5 p.m. The last sleigh ride leaves at 4:30 p.m. each day the ranch is open. Hardware Ranch is closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
For sleigh ride ticket purchases, only cash and check are accepted. No credit cards. Adults, ages 9 and older, are $5, and children ages 3-8 are $3. No reservations are required. For more information call the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area at 435-753-6168, or visit its  Web site.

Elk at Hardware Ranch

(photo by Tyler Larson) Elk graze in the field near Hardware Ranch. (Photo from USU Statesman Online)


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