What You Need to Know Before Visiting the National Elk Refuge

One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of an area you’re visiting is to observe local wildlife. At the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, you can do just that! This 24,000-acre refuge sits in an intermountain valley in Northwestern Wyoming, providing a home for elk, birds, and big game animals. It’s a great place to learn about the creatures that inhabited Jackson Hole long before we did! Here are some of the things you’ll see there. 

Learn more about the National Elk Refuge when you download our free Vacation Guide. It’s full of recommendations for places to eat, drink, and play during your stay In Jackson Hole.  

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Here’s What You’ll Find at the National Elk Refuge 


If you thought you’d only see elk in The National Elk Refuge, think again! Forty-seven different types of mammals have been identified here and make their home in a variety of habitats. Bison, bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, and wolves are just a few of the animals that have been spotted by guests. Plus, over 175 species of birds frequent the area, including swans, cranes, and bald eagles.   

The Refuge’s main attraction, elk, can be seen in herds of thousands when they migrate to Jackson Hole during the cold winter months. Their migration can last from a few days to several weeks and sometimes covers up to 60 miles, depending on the weather. The National Elk Refuge provides a much-needed winter sanctuary for these majestic creatures. 


The Refuge is a great place to visit any time of the year and offers various attractions each season. In the winter, guests can take a horse-drawn sleigh ride amongst wintering elk and watch them feed on natural vegetation. When spring rolls around, the male elk regrow their velveted antlers, and calves are born in May and June.  

If you’re visiting in the summer, feel free to drive a car or walk through the Refuge. You’ll see ducks, geese, and swans swimming in open ponds, and the bull elk’s fully-grown antlers look remarkable. Or plan a trip in the fall when the bulls begin to challenge one another during the breeding season. In September and October, the elk enter rut (mating season), and you’ll hear the male elks bugling. The sound is truly one-of-a-kind: it’s eerie, beautiful, and worth the experience. 


On top of natural events throughout the seasons, The National Elk Refuge offers fun and exciting activities to help you create lifelong memories. Recreational activities like hunting, fishing, and hiking are available throughout the year. Guests can even interact with wildlife and nature experts. Visit the National Fish & Wildlife Service for more information on activities to take advantage of in the Refuge. 

Start Planning Your Trip to Jackson Hole!

Bentwood Inn at night with snow on the groundWith picturesque views and fascinating animals, The National Elk Refuge is worth a visit. If you’re looking for lodging nearby, book your stay at our bed and breakfast and enjoy comfortable accommodations and top-notch amenities. You can even check our winter packages and specials to find something that will make your trip even more memorable! After all, that’s what we do best here at The Bentwood Inn. Book your stay with us today and start planning your Jackson Hole adventure.