February 4, 2020

An Adventurer's Guide to Bear Lake

When you think of adventure on turquoise waters, you may not instantly think of Utah or Idaho... but you should! These neighboring states both lay claim to Bear Lake, a natural gem nestled within the mountains, and home to waters so rich in a characteristic aqua hue that it has earned the designation of being called "the Caribbean of the Rockies." Serving as the centerpiece of the Bear Lake Valley, the lake occupies approximately 109 square miles with shores embracing Bear Lake State Park and Cache National Forest. Bear Lake is a popular destination for recreation-seekers, with an array of adventures to be found both in the water and on land.

Hit The Hiking (And Biking) Trails

Getting out and exploring nature on your own terms is not a challenge on Bear Lake. No matter your speed or ability, there is a hiking trail that is perfect for you. A multitude of walking trails for the novice to advanced hiker are easily accessible around the lake, including within the state park. Some of the most popular are the Limber Pine Trail (an easy, 1.5 mile loop), the Laketown Canyon Trail (a moderate, 7-mile round-trip), and the challenging North Fork at St. Charles Canyon (10 miles round-trip).

There is also no shortage of mountain bike, ATV, snowmobile, and horseback riding trails at various points surrounding Bear Lake. Find interactive trail maps of all types here .

For a guided tour that you will not forget, make sure to check out the Oregon Trail Center in Montpelier, Idaho where you will get a real taste of the wild west in more ways than one. With everything from historical museum exhibits and guided trail tours to a genuine chuck wagon dinner, this is an experience like no other.

Adventure On The Water

Water lovers will find no shortage of exciting activities at Bear Lake. Some of the more popular water sports amongst Bear Lake visitors are paddleboarding, water skiing, jet skiing, and kayaking. Boat and other water sports rentals are readily available and located at different locations around Bear Lake. There are seven boat ramps located around the lake so launching your own watercraft is a breeze.

Choose Your Beach Adventure

Rendezvous Beach

Photo Credit uniqueharsh via Instagram
Photo Credit uniqueharsh via Instagram

Located on the south end of Bear Lake, Rendezvous Beach is a large, open waterfront recreation space with some very useful amenities. The beach has four reservable pavilions, modern and primitive campsites, and boat rentals. There is a small restaurant located near the boat ramp and rental shop. Rendezvous Beach is a popular spot for boating, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, rafting, and kayaking.

North Beach

This two-mile stretch of beach rests on the north side of Bear Lake, in Idaho. Its gradual slope and expansive waters make it an ideal swimming beach. On-site public ramps offer access to boating and water skiing fun as well! Additional boat ramps are available at the State Marina on the west side of Bear Lake.

Garden City Beach

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Garden City has a public beach accessible via Garden City Park. This is a full service recreation area, complete with a pavilion, playgrounds, basketball courts, and a large grassy area. The boardwalk located at the far end of the park leads down to the beach (an approximate quarter-mile walk). Public restrooms are available, as well as a rental shack for paddleboards and kayaks.

Adventure On The Road - Scenic Drives

Oregon Trail - Bear Lake Scenic Byway

Travel through Soda Springs and Lava Hot Springs toward McCammon, passing 15 historic and scenic points along the way.

Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway

Photo Credit: topofutahtravelguide via Instagram

Journey parallel to the Logan River through Logan Canyon, and its dense forests, lush meadows, rugged rock formations, and panoramic views. Especially breathtaking in the fall.

Bloomington Lake

Photo Credit: ayeroon via Instagram

A stunning, high elevation route filled with vibrant wildflowers, dramatic cliffsides, and two lakes. Features sweeping panoramic views of the lake and surrounding valley area.

For The Adventuring Foodie - The Bear Lake Raspberry Shake

Aside from the alluring waters, Bear Lake is also quite famous for the raspberry shake - a signature staple that can be found just about anywhere where food is served nearby. LaBeau's in Garden City is arguably the local favorite. Garden City also hosts the Raspberry Days festival during the first weekend of August each year, in celebration of the harvest peak. Feel free to overindulge in this local treat - morning, noon, and night!

Land Excursions

Minnetonka Cave

Photo Credit: alwayspackasweater via Instagram

Minnetonka Cave Road, St Charles, ID 83272

Located in Idaho's Cache National Forest, Minnetonka Cave is a favorite spot for exploration in St. Charles Canyon and one of two caverns administered by the Forest Service. Guests are invited on 90-minute guided tours through the half-mile limestone cave system, featuring nine rooms lined with travertine, stalactites, and stalagmites.

Bear Lake Golf Course

Photo Credit: salty_red_beard via Instagram

554 Lewis Loop, Fish Haven, ID 83287

Beautiful 9-hole mountain course situated above Bear Lake. The par 33 course, built in 1976, measures 2,715 yards. The Bear Lake West public facilities include a restaurant and sports bar with panoramic views of the lake.

Pickleville Playhouse Theatre

Photo Credit: missyhelene via Instagram

2049 S Bear Lake Blvd, Garden City, UT 84028

Proudly offering family-friendly entertainment for more than 40 years, this professional live theatre and grill is open seasonally on the banks of Bear Lake in Garden City. Enjoy an incredible meal before or after the show in the open-air pavilion.

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Photo Credit: colt.j.dixon via Instagram

322 N 4th St, Montpelier, ID 83254

Bear Lake Refuge was established in 1968 to protect and manage habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. Located just outside of Montpelier, Idaho, the refuge encompasses 18,000 acres of cattail marsh, open water, and flooded meadows managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Visitors are welcome year-round for day use hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and boating.