See mountain goats at 2 free DWR events (canceled)
Salt Lake City — If you have ever wanted to see mountain goats in the wild, you will have a good chance at two upcoming Utah Division of Wildlife Resources events.
Rock Creek Viewing Event (Duchesne County)
The first free event will take place on Saturday, March 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 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. Spotting scopes will be provided, but 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. However, some light refreshments will be provided at the event.
"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, the event will be canceled, as the road is not paved. 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. 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.
While the event is free, participants are encouraged to register. You can register on Eventbrite here.
Little Cottonwood Canyon Event (Salt Lake County)
The second event will take place on Saturday, April 11 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 4385 Little Cottonwood Canyon Road (at the park-and-ride lot on the north side of the canyon at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon).
Biologists will also be at this event to provide information and to offer spotting scopes and binoculars. The event is a great opportunity for Utahns to see some incredible wildlife along the Wasatch Front.
"I never get tired of the excited faces of people seeing their first mountain goat," Scott Root, DWR central region conservation outreach manager, said. "People are amazed at the acrobatic abilities of the goats and how they keep their footing on steep, rocky ledges. The younger goats are a crowd favorite, especially when they are chasing each other."
Goat populations in the Box Elder Peak and Lone Peak subunits 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 area now. Participants have seen up to 30 mountain goats at the viewing event when the goat population in the canyon was higher. Over the past five years, viewers have been seeing up to a dozen goats at the viewing event.
Participants are also encouraged to register for this event. You can register at the Eventbrite link here.