Dean M. Chriss
Mountain Goat, Staring, Glacier National Park

Mountain Goat, Staring

(Click image to enlarge)

I met this mountain goat on a trail, and instead of continuing down the slope it stopped and stared at me for quite a while, probably wondering what this odd two legged creature with bad balance was doing way up here. I had time for a photo before the obliging mountain goat continued on its way.

Mountain goats are not true goats, but they are related. The mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus), also known as the Rocky Mountain goat, is a sure-footed hooved mammal endemic to North America. They live in subalpine to alpine regions and are commonly seen climbing on impossibly steep cliffs, even in ice and snow. They have cloven hooves with two toes that spread wide to improve their balance and rough pads on the bottom of each toe to provide a good grip on slippery surfaces. Mountain goats are powerful and nimble climbers that can jump roughly 12 feet in a single bound.