I don’t know if there’s an animal more interesting to watch than the mountain goat. And spring is when the goats are most visible to humans.
Lynn Chamberlain with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources took this photo on the Tushar Mountains in southwestern Utah.
Their spring range is the rocky slopes on the south side of Little Cottonwood Canyon. As they move from the low country back into the high country in May.
The goats are usually hard to see in winter because their white fur blends in perfectly with the snow.
But at this time of the year, their white bodies stand out against the rocky backdrop, making them perfect targets for binoculars and spotting scopes.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is taking advantage of their visibility to hold a mountain goat viewing event on April 20 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Park-and-Ride area near the mouth of the canyon. Bob Walters, the DWR’s wildlife viewing coordinator, will be onsite with posters, information cards and his in-depth knowledge of the goats, their life, habits and history. There are several fixed-point telescopes in the parking area where this event will be held to make spotting the goats easier. Also, Walters and crew will share binoculars and spotting scopes to see the antics of these sure-footed animals on steep rocky slopes.
If you miss Walters event, you can go to the Park-and-Ride area on your own, anytime between now and, say, the end of April to see the goats. It only takes a pair of binoculars and a bit of patient looking.
Utah’s mountain ranges are a perfect habitat for mountain goats, but there were no reports of goat sightings in the mid-1900s in Utah, Colorado, Nevada or Wyoming. The DWR brought in six goats from the Cascade Range in Washington in 1967—two yearling males and four adult females—that were released on the northern exposure of Little Cottonwood Canyon. It was several years before they were sighted again and it was on the southern exposure of the canyon.
Later, 10 more goats were brought in from Olympic National Park and released on Mt. Timpanogas, followed by another 10 on Mount Olympus. In 1986, the DWR trapped goats off Lone Peak and moved them to the Tushar Range in central Utah. That same year eight goats—six ewes and two rams—were captured on Lone Peak and moved to Bald Mountain in the High Uintas.
In places where they’ve been established, sightings are common among hikers. The most frequent comments on the trail registry for the Timpanogas hike are goat sightings.
Mountain Goat Viewing
Date: April 20 (Saturday)
Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Place: Park-and-Ride area mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Body: White with small black horns
Height: Rams 3.5 feet, females smaller
Weight: Rams 100 to 300 pounds, females smaller
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years