Breeds in well-drained, hummocky arctic and alpine tundra with rocky ridges or outcrops and mixed vegetation (Dryas-lichen ridges, solifluction zones, sedge meadows, Salix or Betula communities, muskeg), vegetation sparse in most arid regions and highest slopes; denser and shrubbier vegetation at lower latitudes/elevations. Nests in dry, rocky areas (Holder and Montgomerie 1993). Winter in breeding habitat on in shrubby areas at or above treeline, in boreal forest on margins of lakes and rivers near treeline, and large shrubby openings near timberline (Weeden 1964). In B.C., this species is found up to 2,450 m in elevation (Campbell et al. 1990).
Campbell, R. W., N. K. Dawe, I. McTaggart-Cowan, J. M. Cooper, G. W. Kaiser, and M. C. E. McNall. 1990. The Birds of British Columbia. Vol. 1 and 2, Nonpasserines. UBC Press, Vancouver, B.C.
Holder, K. and R. Montgomerie. 1993. Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus). In The Birds of North America, Vol. 2, No. 51 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D.C.: The American Ornithologists’ Union.
Weeden, R. B. 1964. Spatial separation of sexes in rock and willow ptarmigan in winter. Auk 81: 534- 541.