Where to see mountain goats in Utah this spring
Salt Lake City — If you have ever wanted to see mountain goats in the wild, there are a few locations around Utah where they can frequently be spotted during March and April.
Rock Creek (Duchesne County)
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will be hosting a free mountain goat viewing event on Saturday, March 20, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. near the Upper Stillwater Dam in an area known as Rock Creek, northwest of Mountain Home, Duchesne County. Biologists will be available to answer questions and provide information about mountain goats.
Duchesne County is currently under the moderate COVID-19 transmission level. Participants are asked to maintain 6 feet between household groups and to wear a mask if they are unable to maintain distance. Participants should also register in advance for a time slot to speed up check-in and reduce crowding at the viewing area. You can register for the event and find more information on Eventbrite.
Spotting scopes with phone adapters will be set up with a viewing screen to provide a closer view of the goats; however, participants should bring their own binoculars if they have them. Attendees should also come prepared with warm clothing and water because the area is quite remote and services are not available.
"Participants can usually see 10 to 30 mountain goats and other wildlife from Rock Creek Road, which runs through the canyon where the goats spend their winter months," DWR Northeastern Region Outreach Manager Tonya Kieffer-Selby said. "The Uinta Mountains are the largest contiguous block of mountain goat habitat in Utah, and mountain goat populations in the Uintas are doing well."
Mountain goats were reintroduced to the Uinta Mountains in 1987 when DWR biologists released seven animals from Lone Peak. In 1988 and 1989, biologists released another 25 goats from Olympic National Park. Between 1992 and 2000, the herd was supplemented by 57 additional animals from two Utah herds. After the releases, a total of 89 goats had been released at 12 sites on the mountains.
If it appears the weather will be too severe or if COVID-19 restrictions change, the event will be canceled. Call the Vernal DWR office the day before the event to get updates. You can reach the Vernal office at 435-781-9453.
Directions to the Rock Creek Event
To reach the viewing site from U.S. Highway 40, take one of the roads from U.S. 40 to Altamont/Mountain Home:
- If you're approaching from the west, turn left (north) onto state Route 87 (North Center Street) in Duchesne. Follow state Route 87 north for roughly 15.5 miles, and turn left onto the road to Mountain Home (21000 West). This road is about 4 miles before you reach Altamont.
- If you're coming from the east, drive through Roosevelt on U.S. 40 roughly 5 miles, and turn right (north) onto Ioka Lane (3000 South; this road is right before U.S. 40 turns south and goes uphill). Ioka Lane is also state Route 87, so stay on this road to Altamont, then drive through Altamont to reach Mountain Home Road, and turn north. This road is roughly 4 miles past Altamont.
If you are driving from the state Route 87/Mountain Home Road Junction, travel north on Mountain Home Road about 2.8 miles, and then turn left at the Mountain Home Inn & Store onto Country Route 95 also known as FR134. This is the road to Rock Creek and Upper Stillwater Dam. The turn isn't well marked, but a sign for the Miner's Gulch, Yellowpine and Stillwater campgrounds is posted near the turn. Follow Route 95 roughly 20 miles to the viewing area.
Little Cottonwood Canyon (Salt Lake County)
Because the viewing area in Little Cottonwood Canyon often gets crowded and doesn't allow for the recommended social distancing, the DWR will not hold a formal viewing event in Little Cottonwood Canyon this year. However, people interested in seeing mountain goats can still go view them on their own. A good place to see them is at 4385 Little Cottonwood Canyon Road (in the north park-and-ride lot at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon).
Goat populations in the Box Elder Peak and Lone Peak subunits in the area increased to a total of approximately 300 animals about 10 years ago. They have since declined, dropping to fewer than 50 animals at one point. Due to limited tracking and the difficulty of doing population counts, it is unclear if there was a true decline in population or if the animals simply relocated. But there are roughly 100 animals in the Little Cottonwood Canyon area now. Over the past five years, viewers have seen up to a dozen goats at this location during this time of year.