Friday, December 29, 2017

Hardware Ranch Elk - Utah

Over Christmas break I visited Utah and took my two oldest grandgirls (ages 8 and 11) on a day-long outing. Our first visit was to Hardware Ranch, a Wildlife Management Area owned and managed by the State of Utah in Blacksmith Fork Canyon, 15 miles east of  Hyrum (which is 8 miles south of Logan) on Hwy 101. The journey was about 120 miles from my daughter's home in Lehi (up the I-15 to Brigham City, then up Hwy 89 to about Wellsville, then east on Hwy 101). 

I was using Google Maps on my phone and ended up following a much more interesting route which supposedly saved 8 minutes. That route took us off the I-15 in about Roy, then up Hwy 80 into Ogden, then east up Ogden Canyon on Hwy 39, past Pineview Reservoir, past the turn-off to Causey Reservoir, then branching off on to a very long snow covered dirt road for about 20 miles. Google Maps told us we'd arrived while we were in the middle of nowhere (it must have put us at the edge of the Hardware Ranch property). Fortunately, we were able to talk to some snowmobilers who told us to follow the road for many more miles down into the bottom of the canyon (we followed the conventional route on the way back to Lehi). 

On the way down the canyon the girls, with their eagle eyes, spotted some mule deer on the side of a hill and we took a few pictures. 
Mule deer 
We eventually found the Hardware Ranch Visitor's Center which had a large stuffed bull elk, a stuffed mountain lion and bobcat, some pelts, including mountain lion, fox, coyote, bobcat and badger, and paid for the sled ride, a very reasonable $5.00 for me, and $3.00 for each of my grandgirls. 
Our dirt road connected with Hwy 101 at this spot at Hardware Ranch. 
The sleds are large rectangular beds with seats around the edges, mounted on truck tires and pulled by two large horses. The elk are fed hay, from December through February, to keep them from going into the more populated areas to forage and get into trouble. The elk are completely free to come and go and the larger bull elk come a little later in the winter when the snow gets deeper. 

We went out on a sled, with about 10 or 15 other people, and spent about 20 or 30 minutes stopping four or five times. There were two or three other sleds out at the same time as we were. There were lots of elk, mostly females and younger spike bulls, totaling about 400. 

We never got close enough to be able to reach out and touch them, but close enough to get a very good look at them. We were also nearby a grouping when one of them let out its haunting bugling call. It was magnificent. 
My grandgirls at the back of the sled.
There were a couple of good-sized bulls.
This guy was a real beauty.

A number of spike bulls with long thin "spike" antlers.

And we saw a couple of young elk rear up on their hind legs and strike at each other with their front legs.
And an older calf aggressively going after it's mother's milk. 
The temperature was in the low 20s, but we were bundled up pretty good and were not too cold. 

At the end, the grandgirls were able to pet the snouts of our sled horses which I think they enjoyed as much as the elk. 
After leaving the Ranch and starting down Blacksmith Fork Canyon toward Hyrum, we saw a group of about 20 Rio Grande turkeys on the side of the hill just off the road. 

We continued on to Brigham City where we ate at Maddox Drive-Inn, then continued on to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake where we saw some antelope and bison. Those are subjects for my next two posts. 

1 comment:

  1. A day to remember for the girls--and for their Papa as well!