The Allmusic review by Thom Jurek awarded the album 4 stars stating "Mountain Passages is another large compositional step for Douglas, whose aesthetic ambition is boundless and whose ability to execute that vision is seemingly limitless". On All About Jazz Brand Reiter said "The music is at turns solemn, whimsical, darkly melancholic and plaintively gorgeous, but what exactly is it? Jazz? Well, yeah... sort of... maybe... sure. It's certainly as much jazz as it is as anything else and—like all Douglas' explorations—undeniably worth your attention". In JazzTimes, Thomas Conrad wrote "Mountain Passages (like the Ladino music of the Northern Mediterranean that partly inspired it) modulates between extremes of the contemplative and the raucous. The alchemy of instrumental sonorities is unique (trumpet both open and muted, cello both pizzicato and arco, three reed instruments in turn) and the genre is classifiable only as Douglas-music: too formally notated for jazz, too hard-driven for chamber music".PopMatters Will Layman observed "Dave Douglas made great music for RCA, but on his own imprint he seems to be even freer and more exultant—a guy with a trumpet and all of jazz history to draw on, not to mention every other kind of music under the white clouds that shade our listening. Mountain Passages makes you want to breath it all in".