Just on the outskirts of town is the National Elk Refuge. These elk are wild (the fences along the road just try to reduce vehicle/elk accidents) but the elk like to congregate here in the wintertime because they do supplement their grazing by feeding them pellets.
Our group rode in a horse-drawn sleigh which got us up close to the elk.
One big herd up close...you can see a couple of other herds in the distance....
I am not exaggerating when I say THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of elk!
It was still very cold, but these guys didn't seem to mind it at all with their thick winter coats on.
Antler-shedding season was just beginning. This fella has already shed one antler...I'm sure he was feeling a bit lop-sided as those racks are heavy!
The male elk are the only ones with antlers which they shed each spring and regrow new, bigger ones every year.
There were more females than males in the herds, but they are not as impressive to photograph.
Hard to hold up his heavy head when he's napping...
This time of year, the males are beginning to brush up on their sparring skills. The biggest, toughest boys get the girls!
These youngsters won't be getting any girlfriends yet, but they are honing their skills for future seasons.
You can hear the loud clanking together of those racks. It's dangerous! There surely must be some elk eyes that get poked out during these sparring sessions.
Elk are big, majestic animals.
A few minutes of sparring, followed by a snack. Just like human boys...
Then as our sleigh was heading back to the entrance, we spotted a couple of eagles along the stream.
They were eating on some fish along the water's edge.
Female bald eagles (in the water) are considerably bigger than the males (he's on the bank).
"How about a little canoodling, you beautiful bald thing?"
They made quite a racket!
The pretty lady had about had enough of that business...
And just like that, they were off!
You never know what kind of wildlife activity you might see...
Late that afternoon we saw yet another cooperative moose quite close to the road.
Amazing they are able to get nutrition from eating twigs!
Moose are huge! You can see that this snow is a couple of feet deep.
She has a bit of an underbite...
This is a female, but none of the moose had antlers this time of year. Male moose, like elk, shed their antlers each year. But moose lose theirs in mid-winter, so all of the moose we saw were antler-less.
A pretty girl, in a homely sort of way...
So serene and quiet, as she ambled away into the woods...
Just before darkness fell, we finished up our day in a grand way with some trumpeter swans.
Their heads were dirty from digging into the mud at the bottom of the stream.
But, muddy heads and all, they were still absolutely gorgeous!
Back to the Lexington Hotel in Jackson Hole for our last evening together.
We shared a nice meal at a snazzy restaurant...
...AirDropped some silly photos to each other (it's dangerous to give a goofy kitty app to a bunch of old people like us!)...
A wonderful end to a fantastic week with some great new friends!
Our last day in the Tetons.