At the age of two or three years, some young male mountain goats leave their home mountain to travel to another mountain up to 80 km away. Some young females do the same but in fewer numbers. Local residents report watching mountain goats swim rivers and cross highways far from any mountain. Dispersal may allow genetic mixing that prevents inbreeding. It also introduces mountain goats to new territory. Dispersal is limited, studies find that mountain goats tend to stay in their home range for a lifetime making it necessary to manage each mountain and each herd separately.
The home range of a mountain goat herd in our area is typically nine kilometers of connecting alpine ridges. There can be numerous herds of goats on various watersheds of a single large mountain range. Mountain goats do not migrate out of their home range but they do move up and down the mountain according to feed and weather. They will move high to cool off on hot summer days. They will stay high to keep in the wind away from mosquitoes and blackflies. They will move to ridges in winter where the wind scours the snow and reveals lichens, grasses and sedges for feed. They will move down to treeline in stormy wet weather and again late in the winter to feed on coniferous trees. They will feed in low elevation meadows clear of snow early in spring and then move up the mountain as the snow melts and the slopes green up.