Photo Credit: Von Taylor via Flickr CC2.0
There’s a reason why the locals call it “The Caribbean of the Rockies.” Bear Lake, a well-known 20-mile long and 8-mile wide lake a little over two hours north of Salt Lake City, spans Utah and Idaho with vivid blue waters. The juxtaposition of the turquoise waters and gleaming white snow make Bear Lake a must-see in the winter.
While more often visited in the summer, one of the West’s best-kept secrets is Bear Lake in the winter. Surrounded by vast areas of unexplored wilderness as the snow falls and the clear mountain air fills your lungs, the Bear Lake Valley becomes a winter wonderland.
A winter vacation in Bear Lake means a bigger variety of accommodation available, fewer crowds, endless winter activities, and cloudless blue skies, called “bluebird days,” inviting you to play outside (or indoors, if you prefer).
So read on for your go-to traveler’s guide for your next getaway to Bear Lake in the winter!
Weather in Bear Lake in the Winter
The region experiences winter from late November through early February. You should anticipate prolonged snowfall and reduced daylight hours throughout this season. December is the coldest and the snowiest month, with an average low of 25°F and high of 38°F and an average snowfall of 3 inches.
Expect a lot of cloud cover in January when the sky is cloudy or mostly cloudy for a majority of the month. Throughout winter, daily average temperatures range from 12°F – 30°F.
To fully enjoy your winter getaway to Bear Lake, don’t forget to pack these things:
- A good warm coat
- A scarf
- A pair of cozy winter boots
These are all essential items to carry if you want to take advantage of all that a Bear Lake winter offers.
Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, either. Yes, even in winter. Bear Lake is 5,924 feet in elevation, so sunburns can be quite intense, especially on bluebird days when the sun can reflect easily off of the white snow.
Things to Do for an Epic Winter Getaway
Bear Lake Valley becomes a powdery playground that the whole family may enjoy once winter arrives. All ages and skill levels can participate in numerous outdoor adventures, including snowmobiling and Nordic skiing.
In addition, there are many winter activities in Bear Lake that don’t require snow or subfreezing conditions. Think hot tubs and cozy afternoons curled up by a wood-burning fire, admiring the spectacular wintry scene from afar.
Here’s what you can expect to get into:
Ski Lessons at Beaver Mountain
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Beaver Mountain takes pleasure in offering a top-notch experience as a family-owned and operated ski resort. This involves providing group or private lessons for skiers of all skill levels as early as three years old.
Skiers and snowboarders will enjoy the diversity of runs available thanks to access to four separate ski lifts, and children have more space to explore and hone their newly acquired skills because this ski resort is less crowded than most.
An adult full day pass (9 am – 4 pm) is $60 and available for purchase at the ticket window upon arrival. No reservations are needed.
Traverse The Sinks
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The “Sinks” is a giant limestone sinkhole located in Logan Canyon, about ten minutes west of Bear Lake. This ideal place in Cache Valley boasts several excellent slopes for snow tubing and sledding in the frigid, snow-covered area.
Everyone can enjoy it because it is as unplugged as entertainment gets. Wear appropriate clothing, though, and pack a thermos. The second-coldest recorded temperature in the lower 48 states, -69.3°F, was recorded in this area, which is infamous for its extreme climate.
Cross-Country Skiing, Snowmobiling, and Snowshoeing
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You can frequently ski right from your rental accommodations when winter arrives. The Bear Lake Golf Course offers fantastic cross-country skiing. Still, there are miles upon miles of beautiful routes and snowmobile trails through Bear Lake’s unspoiled alpine wilderness. There’s even an opportunity for backcountry and night skiing.
In addition, Logan Canyon’s routes are perfect for snowshoeing because most of them are off-limits to snowmobiles, making for a quieter experience. Starting at the Bunchgrass Creek trailhead, a snowshoeing path travels 4 miles along the creek bed until it reaches the White Pine Canyon Junction or 9 miles until it reaches White Pine Lake. However, most people snowshoe the 3-mile out-and-back for a more leisurely adventure.
If you’d rather exchange your exercise for a side of adventure, Bear Lake is one of the top places to go snowmobiling during the winter months.
Bear Lake typically transforms into a big ice field during the winter, freezing as deep as three feet and making for an exciting time to go ice fishing. You can jig for trout and whitefish if you’re willing to endure some extremely chilly weather. However, it’s definitely worth the catch. Anglers go great distances to take advantage of the numerous fishing spots around Bear Lake in the winter.
When the Bonneville Cisco travels near the shore to spawn in the middle of January, anglers have the chance to set up a vantage point and dip net for fish through the ice. A prize is given to the person who catches the largest Cisco during an annual event known as the “Cisco Disco” at Bear Lake Monster Winterfest.
Even if fishing isn’t your thing, the Bear Lake Monster Winterfest should still be on your to-do list. Between a polar plunge, a chili cook-off, and many other exciting activities during the last weekend in January, there’s no shortage of fun at this frigid festival.
The Bear Lake Monster name is most likely a reference to the Loch Ness Monster, given its more than 100-year history. According to reports, the story was based on Native American folklore when it first appeared in the 19th century. Joseph C. Rich, the son of Bear Lake’s founding father, published multiple essays on the “monster” in the late 1800s, which he later claimed were merely fictional fun. Currently, Utah State University maintains a digital archive of artwork and articles regarding the legend of the Bear Lake Monster.
Stokes Nature Center
Photo Credit: stokes_nature_center via instagram
The Stokes Nature Center concentrates on environmental and animal education for all ages. It’s situated close to the mouth of Logan Canyon. The non-profit nature center was founded in 1997 and offers events, including nature walks around Logan Canyon, guided snowshoeing outings, and wreath-building in the winter. Be sure to check out their event calendar.
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The Pickleville Playhouse , a musical theater built in 1977, is located on the banks of Bear Lake in Garden City, Utah. The settlement of Pickleville, where the playhouse previously resided, inspired the playhouse’s name. The town of Pickleville was incorporated into Garden City shortly after the Playhouse was built. Reference their calendar for current events.
Best Places for a Cozy Meal
Around Bear Lake, there are numerous dining options for an incredible meal. That is if you’re not cheffing it up in your fully equipped kitchen at your luxury vacation rental home. You may discover fantastic breakfast, lunch, or dinner options, including takeout, burgers, and Mexican. And believe it or not, the below establishments are open year-round in Bear Lake.
Photo Credit: codysgastrogarage via Instagram
Cody’s Gastro Garage, which opened as a component of the Water’s Edge Resort in 2017, has quickly become a local and tourist favorite in Bear Lake. Cody, the owner’s enthusiastic son, inspired the establishment’s name, which combines superb food with imaginatively themed dining. Try the Philly cheesesteak – you won’t be sorry.
Photo Credit: cinnamonandcoconut via Instagram
Cooper’s is a family-run business located on the Bear Lake West Golf Course. From skillfully fresh steak, fish, chicken, pasta, and burgers, it’s the ideal location for family dinners, relaxed lunches with friends, or a date night. You will appreciate the welcoming atmosphere at Cooper’s whether you’re there for a meal or some libations.
Photo Credit: lilmissremi_n_babydex via Instagram
The crew at this family-owned and operated restaurant is well-known for their excellent customer service. The milkshakes, coffee, and lemonade are a bonus. Bear Trapper offers a variety of hearty meals, including mouthwatering menu items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Photo Credit: cafesabor via Instagram
Affordable, delicious Mexican food – What more might you need? Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, margaritas, and everything you need to wind down a long day are available at Café Sabor. Choose between combo dishes, flavorful individual items, and vegetarian options while the full bar sates your thirst.
Enjoy Bear Lake’s Winter Wonderland
As an exceptional place to spend winter, we’re sure you’ll love your time spent on Bear Lake. Even if you’ve visited us in the summer, there’s no season quite like winter here. With a plethora of indoor and outdoor activities, modern cabins to rest in, and the quintessential winter wonderland scene unfolding right before your eyes, there’s no better place to bundle up.