Life on the Rocks

A Portrait of the American Mountain Goat


smithUniversity Press of Colorado
ISBN: 978-1-60732-291-7
107 color photographs

Hard cover: 192 pages, $34.95
Electronic copy: $27.95
Published June 2014


Recipient of two National Outdoor Book Awards, Life on the Rocks serves up a look at perhaps the greatest mountaineer the peaks have ever known, America’s mountain goat.  In a large, hard cover format are dozens of stunning photographs of  America’s mountain goat and other unique animals and panoramas of the West’s alpine zone.

     These images are accompanied by a readable descriptionNOBAWin150 of this evolutionary novelty that roams the high country of the Rockies, Cascades, and Coast ranges of North America.  Woven throughout the text are my experiences living in Montana’s Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area where my affection for this shaggy cliff-walker began.

     Beyond a natural history primer, Life on the Rocks explains the conservation challenges facing the mountain goat and other alpine species across the U.S. and Canadian West’s great mountain ranges.

Life on the Rocks is available in bookstores and at online booksellers.


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 What others are saying about Life on the Rocks:

“The noble mountain goat is exquisitely adapted to place. As this fine book makes clear, though, people are changing those places, and fast. Here’s one more face of creation asking implicitly that we back off some.” —Bill McKibben, environmentalist and author of The End of Nature and Deep Economy

“Mountain goats are fascinating. They do not look like any other ungulate, live in a spectacular but harsh environment, and much of their ecology remains poorly known. Life on the Rocks provides an intimate portrait of this denizen of the heights, drawing upon the rich personal experience of the author as well as the scientific literature. Illustrated with stunning photographs, the book is a call to action for the conservation of mountain goats and their fragile high-elevation ecosystem. It will be of interest to all who appreciate the mountain wilderness”  Marco Festa-Bianchet, Université de Sherbrooke, Canada 

“Life on the Rocks expertly weaves together the ecology and magic of North America’s most unique mountain dweller. With prose as vivid and inspiring as the dramatic photos of mountain goats in their stark, tilted world, Bruce Smith shares his love and knowledge of an animal few will ever see in the wild.”  —Chris Smith, Western Field Representative, Wildlife Management Institute

Life on the Rocks presents to the general public an overview of the biology of one of the least understood but highly charismatic animals of North America. In both text and stunning images, Bruce Smith reveals his own experience with mountain goats and uses his passion for alpine environments and nature to raise attention for conservation needs of the 21st century.”  —Steeve Côté, Professor of Biology, Laval University, Quebec, Canada