Winter wagon ride + elk = a truly unique experience at Hardware Ranch, 17 miles up Blacksmith Canyon, in Hyrum, Utah. The drive up the canyon is picturesque, the air is clear, the beauty is abundant.
COVID 2020 UPDATE:
Though sleigh rides will not be offered at Hardware Ranch this winter, you will still have a chance to see hundreds of wild elk!
Starting Dec. 4, the visitor center will follow COVID-19 safety protocols and will be open Friday-Sunday until Feb. 14. We will set up two viewing areas outside the center that will provide great views of the elk every day of the week.
We will also provide a one-page map and activity guide at our visitor’s center. The map will show you where you can see elk and the activity will be something you can do outside the visitor center with your kids.
Stop at the Visitors’ Center first (on top of the nearby hill) to purchase tickets. They’re very affordable, especially if you’re buying for the whole family (see price and event facts below). You can browse the exhibits at the center and visit the restrooms if needed. The center is pretty basic but serves the need. Depending on your time constraints and how busy the ranch is, you might want to skip the center at first and come back if you have time. The most exciting part is outside by the elk.
We visited in January 2019 on a no-school day for Davis County, but Cache Valley schools were in session. So it was an ideal day to visit. The weather was warm, and there was no line to hop on a wagon.
We have been on weekends when it has been especially busy. The last time we went, we waited well over an hour, and the temperature was COLD. So dress warmly from head to toe, or at least have warm gear on hand or in your vehicle in case you need it. We also recommend snow pants. There’s always more snow in Cache Valley, especially in this canyon, than what we typically experience along the Wasatch Front. So before and after visiting the elk, kids can play and play and play in the abundance of snow.
Once you hop on board a wagon, you’ll be there for about 20 minutes, and each tour takes you out into the herd of elk. Your wagon will be drawn by a team of workhorses. They are well trained and know exactly what to do. Your tour guide is also very experienced and will gladly share information about the elk and ranch, as well as invite your questions.
Yesterday, the herd count was about 450, mostly cows but several impressive-looking bucks as well. Snow levels were much lower than we used to experience as a kid (I’m originally from Cache Valley), but the elk come anyway, seeking the nutritious grass hay provided at the ranch, which the cows, who are several months pregnant, especially appreciate.
Hardware Ranch provides the feedings to keep the elk from entering the valley area and mingling with local livestock herds, depleting their food resources and spreading diseases, some of which are contagious to humans as well.
All in all, we learned a lot. Visiting the elk is something I like to do with my kids every year or so. It’s my way of showing them a glimpse of my Cache Valley heritage and helping them to become educated about nature and wildlife. If your family is interested, I highly recommend a visit as well.
Things to Know before Visiting Hardware Ranch
One of the Google instructions offered is a mess and misleading. See image below to use the correct one. Or follow instructions from Hardware Ranch’s website. I can simplify it even more for you. Go to Hyrum, Utah. Go to Main Street. Not sure where Hyrum or their Main Street is? Google McDonald’s or Ridley’s in Hyrum, Utah. That’s the street you want to be on. Go through the stoplight and head east toward the mountains. The road winds, but don’t take any turns. Drive 17 miles. You’ll see Hardware Ranch signs along the way, and it’s obvious when you arrive at the Ranch. It’s the only thing out there.
Note: Signs along State Road 165 (the one that takes you down Sardine Canyon) aren’t helpful. They get you started to where you need to go, but once you begin that route, there aren’t many additional signs to lead you along. You’re in the general area of Hyrum, but if you’ve never been and don’t know where Main Street or Blacksmith Fork Canyon are, you’ll just be on a nice drive. Time to Google the McDonald’s or Ridley’s and get on your way.
December 6 thru February 9
Fridays noon to 4:30 pm
Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 4:30 pm
CLOSED other days
$5 ages 9 and up
$3 ages 4-8
FREE under 3
No reservations available. Credit cards accepted if their machine is working. Have exact cash and/or check on hand. We have been there when the electricity is out, and there’s no way for them to accept card payment.
Available inside the Visitors’ Center. They’re small, just three stalls each. But the women’s handicap bathroom does have a changing table. There are also three or four porta potties outside. We recommend that you bring toilet paper just in case. One year when we visited, crowds were really large, and supplies in the outhouses were depleted.
None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Bring your own snacks and drinks, but don’t consume them on the wagon rides.
None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Fill up your gas tank before you enter the canyon, either in Brigham City or Hyrum, if you’re coming from Salt Lake City.
Warm. Boots, gloves, snow pants, scarves, warm socks–the works! You can always peel of layers and store them in your vehicle. Sometimes the canyon is warm, but many times it is frigid and well below zero. We can’t stress enough the importance of bringing warm gear to wear.
Yes! Wheelchairs can go on the wagon rides too! You’ll just have to decide if they can be snowbound while you’re in line. Pathways are often shoveled, but it all depends on staff availability and the weather as to how much snow removal is done. As far as the wagons go, there are definite accommodations. Just let staff know when you buy your tickets that you’ll need a little extra help loading on. This quick video shows how it’s done.
Cell Phone Service
None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Same goes for options to recharge electronic devices.
Service dogs, yes. All other pets and animals, no. That’s the official rule listed on Hardware Ranch’s website. We would also like to add that we don’t think it’s a good idea to bring your animals to stay in the cars, either. Why? Possible frigid temperatures. Plus pets need to poop and pee–outside–where lots of people have to walk. Lots of possibilities to step in poop. Lots of pregnant elk nearby who would panic if they saw or smelled a dog or pet. We have been to Hardware Ranch many times. NO ONE brings their dog or other pets.
Any questions? Please ask in the comments, and we’ll try to answer as best we can, based on our personal experiences. Or visit this link to learn more from the Hardware Ranch website. You can also call Hardware Ranch at 435-753-6168.
More Fun Pictures of Our Visit to Hardware Ranch
You might want to pin this post for future reference. If there are any changes to Hardware Ranch that we are aware of, we will keep it updated.