Event in northeastern Utah on March 12, 2016
Mountain Home, UT -(AmmoLand.com)- As the snow piles up in the winter, mountain goats along the South Slope of the Uinta Mountains move down onto ridges that are exposed to the sun.
The southern sun, steep terrain and a little help from the wind clear these ridges of snow. That provides a great wintering area for the goats — and a unique viewing opportunity for people.
The free event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Randall Thacker, UDWR biologist, says from the Rock Creek Road, you can usually see mountain goats wintering in the canyon.
“Keeping the road open to the Stillwater Dam creates a unique viewing opportunity,” he says.
The mountain goats move around, so biologists will have to wait until the day of the event to determine the exact viewing sites. To find the viewing sites, simply drive slowly up Rock Creek Road until you see the biologists.
Spotting scopes will be available so you can get a close look at these incredible climbers in their shaggy, white coats. Biologists will also set up a site that includes displays and information about mountain goats. From the site, biologists can direct you to additional viewing areas.
“We’ll have binoculars and spotting scopes for you to use,” says Ron Stewart, UDWR outreach manager, “but if you have your own viewing gear, please bring it.”
Stewart also encourages you to bring warm clothes and a lunch. “You never know what the weather in the mountains is going to be like,” he says. “And the viewing sites are quite a ways from stores and other places to buy food.”
The weather will determine if the event is held. If it appears the weather will be too severe, the event will be canceled.
“Hopefully,” Stewart says, “the weather will cooperate. Please feel free to call our Vernal office on Friday, March 11 for an update.”
You can reach the Vernal office at 435-781-9453.
1) To reach the viewing site from U.S. Highway 40, take one of the roads from US 40 to Altamont/Mountain Home:
a) If you’re approaching from the west: turn left (north) onto state Route 87 (N. Center Street) in Duchesne. Follow SR 87 north for roughly 15.5 miles and turn left onto the road to Mountain Home (21000 West). This road is about four miles before you reach Altamont.
b) 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 US 40 turns south and goes uphill). Ioka Lane is also SR 87, so stay on this road to Altamont, then drive through Altamont to reach the Mountain Home Road, and turn north. This road is roughly 4 miles past Altamont.
2) From the SR 87/Mountain Home Road Junction: travel north on the Mountain Home Road about 2.8 miles, and turn left at the Mountain Home Store onto Country Route 95. This is the road to Rock Creek. The turn isn’t well marked, but there is a sign for the Miner’s Gulch, Yellowpine and Stillwater campgrounds.
Follow Route 95 roughly 20 miles to the viewing area.
“Keep your eyes open as you travel,” Stewart says. “It’s common to see elk, deer and a variety of other wildlife along the way.”
Utah’s largest herd
The Uinta Mountains have more habitat for mountain goats than any other area in Utah. And goat herds on the mountains are doing great.
Thacker says mountain goats were introduced into the Uinta Mountains in 1987 when the UDWR 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 all of the releases were done, a total of 89 goats had been released at 12 sites on the mountains.
“During our last trend count in 2011,” Thacker says, “we counted 858 mountain goats. That shows how good the habitat is on the Uinta Mountains.”
About the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR):
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is part of the Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In addition to managing and protecting Utah’s wildlife, we manage hunting and fishing opportunities within the state.
For more information, visit www.wildlife.utah.gov.