HYRUM, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced Tuesday that sleigh rides at the popular Hardware Ranch east of Hyrum will not be offered this year due to COVID-19. Although the sleigh rides won’t be offered, there will still be plenty of chances to see hundreds of wild elk this winter.
The decision to not offer rides was made in consultation with the Bear River Health Department.
“Keeping people safe from COVID-19 is our top priority,” Brad Hunt, manager of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area, said. “The sleighs we use are fairly long, but they’re also narrow. It’s impossible for people to be in the sleighs and maintain the recommended safe distance from other individuals and groups.”
People can still visit Hardware Ranch this winter and view elk. Starting Dec. 4, the visitor center will be open on weekends until Feb. 14. Two viewing areas outside the center will provide great views of the elk every day of the week.
Masks will be required inside the ranch’s visitor center and the number of people allowed inside at any given time will also be limited.
Once visitors arrive at the ranch and sign-in inside the center, they can move to the indoor observation area which provides a view of the meadow in which the elk are feeding. Visitors are welcome to stay inside the center for up to 15 minutes.
The two viewing areas located outside of the visitor center will have informative signs about the elk, but people are advised to bring their own binoculars or a spotting scope to get the best view of the hundreds of elk nearby.
The visitor center at the ranch will be open Dec. 4 through Feb. 14 on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The center asks that people who are not in the COVID-19 high-risk category to wait until noon to enter the visitor center.
“Waiting until noon will allow those who are high risk to enjoy the center with fewer people inside,” Hunt said.
Hardware Ranch is located 16 miles east of Hyrum on State Route 101 through Blacksmith Fork Canyon.