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Sleigh rides to view elk at Hardware Ranch canceled due to COVID-19 concerns

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Posted at 11:43 AM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 13:51:13-05

HYRUM, Utah — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has canceled its sleigh rides at Hardware Ranch due to concerns over COVID-19.

The sleigh rides to view the large elk herd there have been a popular winter activity for years.

The decision to not offer the 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.”

READ: Uniquely Utah: Elk aplenty at Hardware Ranch

That doesn’t mean you can’t come to Hardware Ranch and enjoy seeing hundreds of wild elk this winter.

Starting Dec. 4, the visitor center will be open on weekends until Feb. 14, and two viewing areas outside the center will provide great views of the elk every day of the week.

Dress warm, pack a lunch and bring binoculars or a spotting scope.

“To keep people safe, COVID-19 protocols will be in place inside the visitor center,” Hunt said. “You must wear a mask. And, to keep the crowds small, we’ll limit the number of people who can be in the visitor center at any given time.”

After signing in, you can move into the indoor observation area. This area provides a great view of the meadow in which the elk are feeding. You can stay inside the visitor center for up to 15 minutes.

“We have to limit the amount of time to make sure we don’t get too many people inside the center at once,” Hunt said.

When you arrive at the center, you’ll receive a one-page map and activity guide.

“There’s lots to do outside the center,” Hunt said.