Exploring the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Tourists often pack the picturesque, sandy beaches of Bear Lake in the summer, but just north lies a natural treasure. Located near the border between Utah and Southeast Idaho, Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge offers adventures for every speed.

Whether you want to lounge by the water, cast a line, or hit the trails, this wild refuge offers plenty of action. Bear Lake Luxury Rentals will provide the perfect base for your visit. With vacation homes in three towns around the lake, you’ll never be far from the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

About the Bear Lake Wildlife Refuge

Bear Lake Wildlife Refuge comprises 18,000 acres of protected land just north of Bear Lake and includes the Dingle Swamp and Mud Lake. If you look to Google Maps for directions, you’ll be directed to Downtown Montpelier, but the refuge actually consists of  the land just south of town.

Although the refuge does not technically contain Bear Lake proper, it is intimately intertwined with it’s infrastructure and ecosystem.

The refuge was established in 1968 to protect the native species of flora and fauna and the accompanying valuable habitats for waterfowl and colonial nesting birds. Characterized by cattail marsh, open water, brush-covered slopes, and meadows, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages this area to keep it pristine.

What to Do at the Refuge

Spend the Day Around Mud Lake

Photo Credit: Justin Crook Photography

Mud Lake is the smaller, more rustic sister of Bear Lake. The preserved marsh area is a great place for wild exploration. There are numerous places to sit for a picnic while you watch wildlife and laze the day away.

Watch for Wildlife

Photo Credit: USFWS – Pacific Region via Flickr CC 2.0

Numerous animal species dwell within the 18,000 acres of the refuge, drawing bird watchers and other nature lovers to Bear Lake. Bring your binoculars, a comfy chair, and some snacks—you might be out here for a while.

The park’s avian life includes shorebirds like great horned owls, egrets, cormorants, and waterfowl and migratory birds like the Canada geese, sandhill cranes, and white-faced ibis, which all dwell in the wetlands. Besides birdwatching, keep an eye out for moose, elk, and native black bears on land.

Cast a Line

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Bear Lake’s bright blue waters are stocked with numerous whitefish species and two different kinds of trout, making the area around the refuge a world-class fishing destination. Though boat fishing is prohibited, anglers can drop a line at several locations around the lake shores. Check with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more details.

When winter winds blow in, the summer crowds disperse, but the fishing fun continues. During particularly cold seasons, you can try ice fishing, a time-honored local tradition, and see if you can hook an elusive Bonneville Cisco.

Explore by Boat

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images

In the warmer months; boaters can zip or drift across the open waters of Bear Lake. Ramps, docks, and boat rental shops around the shores allow easy access for both motorized and non-motorized watercraft.

Break out the kayaks and paddleboards for a slower-paced experience, or speed through the waters in a rented Sea-Doo from Bear Lake Rentals. You can even pick up inflatables to tow the kids (and kids at heart).

Go for a Swim

Photo Credit: dotspencer

Swimmers of all ages and ability levels can dip in Bear Lake’s inviting waters. The most popular swim areas — North Beach, Rendezvous Beach, and Cisco Beach — tend to fill up during the summer, so make sure to stake out your spot early in the day.

If you only have time to see one beach this trip, stop by North Beach (reserve an optional day pass ahead of time). Its shallow waters warm quickly, while two miles of pristine shore provide an idyllic place to soak up the sunshine. Other highlights include picnic tables and the floating Bear Lake Burger Boat food truck.

Hop in the Car

Photo Credit: Pavel Kiriiak

If you prefer to sample the delights of the outdoor world from the comfort of your car, the popular Bear Lake Scenic Byway runs 15 miles from Laketown, Utah, to the state border. (For a longer auto tour route, continue onward to Idaho’s Oregon Trail-Bear Lake Scenic Byway). As you drive, take some extra time to admire the vistas of the mountains and lake.

Nearby, the 41-mile-long Logan Canyon Scenic Drive carves through aspen groves and areas of historical significance. In the fall, leaf peepers from all over the country descend on this route to see the vibrant, changing colors.

Take a Hike

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images

Whether you’re traveling with kids, dogs, or just you and yourself, Bear Lake has a variety of hiking trails covering beautiful sights and fascinating history. For a shorter trek, try the Limber Pine Trail or Swan Peak Trail, which both afford incredible views in just a few miles. Stronger hikers may want to tackle the Laketown Canyon Trail or Sink Hollow Trail, moderate hikes with ample chances to see wildlife.

No matter which hike you pick, remember to be courteous to others and respect the natural environment. You should always stick to the marked trails and leave no trace of your visit.

Bike Around Bear Lake

Photo Credit: goodluz

A 50-mile network of paved paths and roads winds around Bear Lake, making for a fun cycling day trip. Don’t be daunted by that distance; the route is ranked as easy to moderate, a relaxing way to see the lake from all sides. Fuel your ride with a raspberry milkshake from LaBeau’s, a Garden City, Utah institution.

For an added dose of adventure, consider biking to Minnetonka Cave, a 16.4-mile climb from the lakeside town of Fish Haven, Idaho. The caves stretch deep below the surface, featuring limestone formations and underground waterways well worth seeing.

Book a Tee Time

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You can choose from two visitor-friendly golf courses on the shores of Bear Lake – the Bear Lake Golf Course and Bear Lake West Golf Course. Here, you can enjoy a one-of-a-kind sporting experience set against a gorgeous natural backdrop.

Both facilities are open to the public from spring through fall for reasonable fees. Families, large groups, and solo golfers can play at either course, as both have offerings appropriate for different skill levels.

Check out the Scenery by Horse

Photo Credit: Stephan Rapp

Hop in the saddle to check out the Bear Lake Valley from an entirely new point of view. On horseback, you can explore the tranquil corners of Logan Canyon and the Cache National Forest.

Companies like Pony Express Horseback Rides and MW Quarter Horses provide unforgettable experiences ranging from quick excursions to half-day rides. You’ll want to book quickly, though — during the high season, it doesn’t take long for trips to fill up.

Strap on Snowshoes

Photo Credit: Mark Bonham

As the temperatures drop and snow falls, Bear Lake’s winter activities are in full force! You’ll need a solid pair of snowshoes to walk through this winter wonderland. Rent snowshoes from Epic Recreation in Garden City before striking out on the Bear Legacy Pathway or any other trails in the area.

Along the way, you may catch glimpses of rough-legged hawks and bald eagles, which nest in the pine trees around Bear Lake during winter months. Consider bringing some snow saucers or inner tubes for a sledding break during your walk.

Pro Tip: If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, consider snowmobiling instead!

Set Aside a Ski Day

Photo Credit: Kent Kanouse via Flickr CC 2.0

Bear Lake boasts epic cross-country and downhill skiing opportunities. Nordic skiers should head to Beaver Bottoms or Green Canyon, both maintained by the Cache Valley nonprofit Nordic United. If off-the-beaten-track ventures are more your speed, simply set a course for the nearest hiking trail.

Meanwhile, the family-owned Beaver Mountain Ski Area has been providing thrills for downhill skiers since 1939. Here, you’ll find all the usual amenities, like gear rentals, lessons, a repair shop, and 48 runs that will suit beginners and dedicated powder hounds alike.

Plan Your Trip to Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge has countless nooks and crannies to explore. No matter how you’re traveling or who you’re traveling with, there’s something here that everyone can enjoy. Book your stay at Bear Lake Luxury Rentals and start planning your getaway today!

The Absolute Best Time to Visit Bear Lake

While there is never a bad time to visit the beautiful Bear Lake, the best time depends on what adventures you seek. Summer reigns supreme if you want to bask in the sun on the blue waters. However, fall, winter, and spring all offer their own unique offerings, from winter sports to fishing, birdwatching, and more. 

Here is our guide to the best time to visit Bear Lake, depending on what type of vacation you are looking for. Whenever you decide to make the journey, our luxury vacation homes are waiting for you.


If you dream of a sun-soaked vacation, summer is the best time to visit Bear Lake. With average air temperatures hovering in the 70s and 80s and lake temps at a refreshing 68-72 degrees, it’s the perfect time to be out on the water and enjoy the sandy beaches of the lake. 

The summer months offer fun on the beach, water adventures, and a lively atmosphere. Although it’s the busiest season, it presents a magical time on the lake. 

Summer Activities in Bear Lake


Grab a boat rental and enjoy cruising the sparkling waters of Bear Lake. The 20-mile-long and 8-mile-wide lake also offers plenty of opportunities for waterskiing, wakeboarding, and jet skiing

Non-motorized water sports

Photo Credit: Wallpaper Flare via Google Images Creative Commons Licenses

The sparkling emerald waters of Bear Lake are generally calm during the summer making for a perfect place to grab a kayaking or stand-up paddleboard rental. 

Paris Ice Cave

Located about twenty minutes from Garden City in the Cache National Forest, the ice in these caves infamously never completely melts – even during the warmest summers. Explore the incredible underground Paris Ice Cave, full of icicles and unique limestone rock formations. 

Minnetonka Cave

Photo Credit: Rawpixel via Google Images Creative Commons Licenses

Between Memorial and Labour Day weekends, you can explore the Minnetonka Caves, one of Idaho’s largest limestone cave formations. This experience offers a great reprieve from the warm weather. 

Beach time

Don’t miss the incredible Bear Lake beaches that easily rival those of any coastal destination! The pristine beaches surrounding the lake feature surprisingly white sand and calm shores. 

Summer Events in Bear Lake

  • Raspberry Days: Experience this full-on raspberry fest every August, featuring parades, live music, games, and delicious raspberries. 
  • Bear Lake Car Show: If you love classic cars, you won’t want to miss the Bear Lake Car Show in July.
  • Bear Lake Monster Swim: Participate or spectate this fun annual race across Bear Lake.


When the summer crowds dissipate, and the heat subsides, fall brings a quiet charm to Bear Lake. Daytime temperatures range from the low 60s to mid-70s, with cooler evenings, making it ideal for outdoor activities that might otherwise be too hot for summer. The lake’s forests explode into shades of red, orange, and yellow foliage and make for a great time to get outside and explore Bear Lake’s picturesque scenery.

Fall is the best time of year to visit Bear Lake if you want to experience a quieter, more peaceful Bear Lake and still participate in a variety of fun outdoor activities.

Fall Activities in Bear Lake

Hiking and biking

Fall is the perfect time to explore the stunning trails around Bear Lake. Some of our favorites include: 

Horseback riding

Photo Credit: Wallpaper Flare via Google Images Creative Commons Licenses

There’s nothing quite as serene and grounding as horseback riding around Bear Lake. If you own horses, Logan Canyon, Cache National Forest, and Caribou National Forest are all fantastic places to take your horses and ride. You can also book a guided riding tour through Pony Express Horseback Rides

Wildlife watching

Fall is the perfect time to grab your binoculars and look for several species of migrating birds, as well as moose, mule deer, foxes, minks, salamanders, and snakes, as they prepare for winter.

Fall foliage

Photo Credit: Bicycling via Google Images Creative Commons Licenses

Take a drive along the Bear Lake Scenic Byway to witness stunning foliage. This winding road takes you through some of the most picturesque landscapes in the western United States, with rolling hills, sparkling lakes and bountiful forests as far as the eye can see..


Photo Credit: Patrick Lewis via Flickr CC 2.0

There’s something magical about fall fishing around Bear Lake. With the summer crowds gone, the waters calm down, and the fish tend to get a little more cooperative. There are a variety of fish to be caught, including cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, and whitefish. 

Fall Events in Bear Lake


Winter transforms Bear Lake into a snowy wonderland, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. If you don’t mind the cold, winter is the perfect time to visit Bear Lake for fun winter sports and cozy nights spent in your Bear Lake luxury rental. 

Winter Activities in Bear Lake


Photo Credit: Rawpixel via Google Images Creative Commons Licenses

This small lake community is home to over 350 miles of snowmobiling trails catering to beginners and seasoned riders, with ample opportunities for deep powder thrills and scenic cruises. There are ample opportunities to grab a rental for a guided tour as well!

Ice fishing

The fishing fun doesn’t have to end as the seasons change- Bear Lake freezes over 80% of winter seasons, providing the perfect setting for ice fishing for Bear Lake Cutthroat Trout. 

Sleigh rides

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons via Google Images Creative Commons Licenses

To get into the winter holiday spirit, you can take a magical ride in a horse-drawn sleigh. Picture a picturesque winter wonderland with snow-covered trees and twinkling lights. Now imagine being pulled along in a cozy sleigh by a majestic horse, the only sound coming from jingling bells. From romantic excursions under the starry skies to family fun with the kids, a sleigh ride in Bear Lake is something everyone should experience at least once.

Downhill skiing and snowboarding

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Downhill skiing and snowboarding are some of the most popular pastimes in Bear Lake. Some of the closest mountains include the Beaver Mountain Ski Area and the Pine Creek Ski Resort.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing

Additionally, the wilderness surrounding Bear Lake offers the perfect destination for cross-country skiing and exploring. 

Soak in a hot spring

After a day on the slopes or out exploring the backcountry, nothing soothes your muscles like soaking in the 100-degree Bear Lake Hot Springs in North Beach.

Winter Events in Bear Lake

  • Bear Lake Monster Winterfest: This is a family-friendly, annual festival every January that includes fun events like free opportunities to try winter gear, a 5k, a polar plunge, and a chili cook-off!


Springtime at Bear Lake brings new life, fresh blooms, and a host of fun outdoor activities. This is the best time to visit Bear Lake if you want to beat the crowds, and still experience the natural beauty of Bear Lake. 

If you want to experience Bear Lake before the summer crowds, spring is one of the best times to visit Bear Lake. You’ll have ample opportunities to get outdoors, explore, and spot both wildflowers and wildlife.

Spring Activities in Bear Lake


Spring is one of the best times to go fishing in Bear Lake. Bear Lake Whitefish, Sculpin, and Cutthroat Trout are the fish to watch out for during spring.

Hit the trails

As the snowpack melts away, the hiking and biking trails around Bear Lake become full of wildflowers and are extra inviting. There might still be a little mud in early spring, but the crisp weather, beautiful views, and heightened chances of spotting wildlife make it all worth it. 

Some of the best spring hiking trails are:


Photo Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology via Google Images Creative Commons Licenses

It doesn’t get much better for birdwatchers than a visit to the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge in the springtime. As the migratory birds return to the area, you can watch for Long-billed Curlew, burrowing owls, and Peregrine falcons. 


Even if the water might be too chilly for a swim, boating on Bear Lake is a popular spring pastime. Especially during Memorial Day weekend! 


Photo Credit: Wallpaper Flare via Google Images Creative Commons Licenses

Bear Lake has some excellent golf courses, including the Bear Lake West Golf Course, Bear Lake Golf Course, and the Montpelier Municipal Golf Course. Spring is the perfect time to beat the heat on Bear Lake’s golf courses. 

Spring Events in Bear Lake

Enjoy Bear Lake All Year

Bear Lake offers something truly wonderful year-round. Winter provides a snow-covered wonderland, summer brings long days on the lake, fall brings gorgeous colors, and spring offers an uncrowded Bear Lake and spectacular wildflowers.

No matter what time you visit Bear Lake, you will surely have an incredible stay at your premium, fully-equipped, luxurious rental. Book your Bear Lake getaway today!

An Aerial Guide to the Bear Lake Ropes Course

Are you looking to soar to new heights on your next trip to Bear Lake? If so, you’ll want to explore the Bear Lake Ropes Course at the Bridgerland Adventure Park. Situated in the heart of Garden City, Utah, the park has over 70 exciting elements up to 42 feet tall. This aerial ropes course offers a fun and affordable excursion for everyone in your group.

Photo Credit: Chase-Karli Willden

Book your luxury cabin today, and you’ll be right in the heart of the action for enjoying the beautiful Bear Lake and this exhilarating ropes course.

About the Bridgerland Adventure Park

Photo Credit: Monstar Studio
  • Price: $
  • Address: 722 S First Lgt Dr, Garden City, UT 
  • Website:
  • Open: Seasonal; open from Memorial Weekend through Labor Day Weekend.
  • Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 am until 5:30 pm.

The Bear Lake ropes course is located inside Bridgerland Adventure Park in Garden City, Utah, only a skip away from Bear Lake. The park is an exhilarating, family-friendly amusement park with several fun activities in addition to its famous ropes course. 

In addition to the ropes course, Bridgerland Adventure Park has several other fun activities, including”

  • A zip line
  • Free fall 
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Giant swing
  • Axe throwing
  • Bungee tramp
  • Bounce house
  • Miniature golf
  • Kid’s train
  • Tubing. 
  • Free playground 
  • Disc golf course

About the Bear Lake Ropes Course

Photo Credit: David Tadevosian

The shining jewel of Bridgerland Adventure Park is the Bear Lake ropes course. This outside obstacle course has more aerial elements than any other in Utah. 

The Bear Lake ropes course has four different levels, which increase with difficulty as they increase. Each level has 18 elements and takes about 45 minutes to complete. 

Thanks to the level system, the Bear Lakes ropes course is suitable for various ages and skill levels. Younger kids and people scared of heights will do fine on the lower levels, and brave, adrenaline-seeking people will have a blast on the upper levels. 

Here’s a breakdown of the features of each level.

  • Level 1: Includes fun features like pipe multi-vines, a footprint bridge, a tunnel, and a series of ropes to climb through. The elements on this level are at a height lower than the rest. 
  • Level 2: Slightly higher than Level 1 and involves elements like painter’s planks, a ladder traverse, a pirate plank, a climbing traverse, and a tube. 
  • Level 3: Slightly higher and more difficult. It involves a swinging log, climbing pegs, lily pads, a kitten crawl, and a catwalk.
  • Level 4: The highest and most difficult of the levels. It involves difficult elements like a sliding hold climbing traverse, a skywalk, a Burma bridge, and more. 

If you’re curious about the different levels and elements, you can check out images of the different elements on the Bridgerland Ropes Course page

What to Know Before You Go

Who can do the Bear Lake Ropes Course?

Photo Credit: David Tadevosian

The Bear Lake ropes course was created to be fun for all fitness levels and people of all ages! With that said, it does have two restrictions. Only kids eight and up can do the ropes course, which has a 275 lb maximum weight limit for participants due to safety reasons. 

How much does it cost?

The Bear Lake ropes course is perfect for affordable family fun. To participate, you purchase a ticket to do two levels of the course. Tickets for two levels cost $13.50 as of the 2023 season. If you want to do all four course levels, you can buy two tickets. 

How much time to spend at the Bear Lake Ropes Course?

Each level of the course has 18 elements, each taking about 2.5 minutes. If you plan to complete two levels, it’ll take you approximately 90 minutes. 

You should plan to spend at least two hours on the Bear Lakes ropes course, which gives you time to go through the safety measures,  get harnessed up, and go through at least two courses. 

If you plan to complete all four levels, it will take you at least three hours. It’s best to plan on only doing two levels, as it gets quite strenuous, and very few park visitors ever complete more than two levels. 

What to bring and wear to the Bear Lake Ropes Course?

To complete the Bear Lake ropes course, you should bring athletic clothing you feel comfortable climbing in. Shoes with a heel strap are required. 

Further, we recommend bringing tennis shoes with at least a little grip. This will make some of the climbing elements easier. We also recommend wearing sunscreen and bringing some water to drink after the course. 

Safety at the Bear Lake Ropes Course

Photo Credit: Monstar Studio

Climbing on a 35 foot aerial ropes course may seem daunting, but rest assured because the Bear Lake ropes course has implemented several safety measures.

  • Harnesses: You won’t be free climbing this aerial course; you’ll be strapped in with a safety harness the entire time. 
  • Helmets: Required on the course at all times, protecting your head. 
  • Trained instructors: You don’t have to brave the Bear Lake ropes course alone! All of the facilitators of the course are well-trained by a certified ropes course trainer. They all know the course and all of its elements inside and out. 
  • Facilitators: There are facilitators perched on each level of the course who can help you with the elements and give instructions. If needed, the facilitators can even go onto the course with you and help you get off the course at any time. 
  • Closed in bad weather: If there are any strong winds, heavy rain, or lightning the course closes.

Enjoy a Bear Lake Aerial Adventure

When you rent a vacation home on Bear Lake, you’ll find that there are plenty of options for adventure. The Bear Lake ropes course is the perfect group bonding experience. We’ll see you in the clouds!

A Visitor’s Guide to Mud Lake, Idaho

Are you looking for a unique outdoor adventure that’s not yet on the radar of other travelers? If so, consider a visit to Mud Lake, on the northern edge of Bear Lake, Idaho. This lesser-known lake may not have much to offer in the way of amenities, but it still offers plenty for those interested in fish and game activities.

If you want to get off the beaten path, Mud Lake, Idaho, is only a short drive from your Bear Lake vacation home.

About Mud Lake, Idaho

Photo Credit: Justin Crook Photography

Mud Lake, Idaho, is a waterbody part of the larger Dingle Marsh wetland system located immediately north of Bear Lake. The Dingle Marsh wetland system, also known as Dingle Swamp, is an 18,000-acre protected refuge. Both Mud Lake and the more popular Bear Lake were once part of a large prehistoric lake that filled the entire valley.

It’s important to note that the majority of the southern half of Mud Lake is closed to entry, as it’s a highly protected part of the refuge. Check the National Park Service’s map to know exactly where you can and can’t go.

Why is it called Mud Lake?

The name “Mud Lake” might not sound appealing at first glance, but it perfectly captures the natural allure of this biologically diverse area of marshland. Mud Lake and its surroundings present a thriving ecosystem with a rich diversity of wildlife. It’s essentially a playground for several types of waterfowl, fish, and various mammals, like jackrabbits, foxes, and coyotes.

Bear Lake’s marshy wetlands

Photo Credit: Chase-Karli Willden

Mud Lake isn’t just unique because of its ecological diversity but also because of its geographical positioning. Mud Lake sits comfortably right on the northern rim of beautiful Bear Lake, creating a striking contrast between the crystal-clear waters of Bear Lake, the marshy wetlands surrounding Mud Lake, and the entirety of the Dingle Swamp.

Why explore Mud Lake?

If you’re visiting Bear Lake in the summer and have a little extra time, exploring the northern part of the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge can be a fun adventure into the more unpolished parts of the area. Mud Lake and the whole Dingle Marsh area have a unique ecosystem and present fantastic opportunities for wildlife spotting, particularly birdwatching!

The Best Time to Visit Mud Lake, Idaho

Mud Lake and the surrounding marshlands can be visited year-round. However, the best time to visit Mud Lake is between early spring and late fall, when temperatures are warmer, and the wildlife is particularly active. Winter can also be an interesting time to visit Mud Lake as mule deer spend their winters here, along with bald eagles and rough-legged hawks.

Driving around Mud Lake in winter can be difficult as many roads become impassable due to icy and snowy conditions. However, this does present opportunities for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Things to do in Mud Lake, Idaho

While Mud Lake doesn’t offer all the amenities of its three-hour south neighbor Bear Lake, you certainly won’t find yourself bored! These are some of the classic activities around the lake.


Photo Credit: Vinod C L

Mud Lake is truly a paradise for birdwatchers. You can spot Canada geese, northern pintails, and mallards by early springtime.

As temperatures warm up by April and May, even more birds arrive, including Sandhill Cranes preparing to make their nests, Franklin’s gulls, white-faced ibis, herons, egrets, and grebes. There are also several species of ducks, including redheads, canvasbacks, and lesser scaup.

Through spring and summer, all of these species of birds make the marshlands their nesting sites. In late fall and winter, almost all birds prepare to leave as more precipitation comes to the area, and the marshlands start to freeze.

Birding is one of the best reasons to come to Mud Lake, Idaho. To have the best birding experience, bring binoculars and a bird field guide to help you identify the species you see. If you wish to take any photos, bring a long-lens camera. If you’re visiting in the summer, you’ll also want to bring plenty of insect repellent, as it gets buggy here.


Photo Credit: Alexander Lukatskiy

With a valid Idaho fishing license, anglers are allowed to enjoy fishing in Mud Lake’s marshy waters. It’s also not uncommon to fish just north of the Lifton Pumping Station. Check out the Idaho Fishing Planner for more information about current bag limits, special restrictions, and what people are catching.

Hike and Explore the Nearby Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Photo Credit: Margaret.Wiktor

The best opportunities for exploring lie to the far north of Mud Lake, in the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge. Just south of the Salt Meadow Unit are wildlife viewing facilities and ample opportunities for hiking, canoeing, and even horseback riding. If you do wish to hike, keep in mind that many of the trails and roads are only open until January 15th. You can also snowshoe on the trails and roads during that time.


Photo Credit: digidreamgrafix

Motorized and non-motorized boats are permitted in specific boating areas from September 20th to January 15th. Boat rentals are plentiful around Bear Lake. The canoe trail, which presents a fantastic opportunity for wildlife spotting, is open from July 1st to September 20th.



Hunting is permitted in certain areas surrounding Mud Lake, Idaho. However, only geese, ducks, snipe, mergansers, cottontails, gray partridge, coots, and sage grouse can be hunted. All other species are protected by the refuge.

It’s Time for a Mud Lake Adventure

Mud Lake’s rugged uniqueness is an amazing place to balance Bear Lake’s polished beauty. A Bear Lake vacation home is the perfect home base to explore the biologically diverse wetland surrounding the lake. Book your Bear Lake vacation rental today!

4 Best Restaurants in St. Charles, Idaho

Photo Credit: Senyuk Mykola

St. Charles, Idaho, is a hidden lakeside gem adjacent to the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. It keeps good company around Bear Lake with the charming towns of Garden City and Fish Haven nearby. Whether you’re visiting for a lakeside getaway or planning on hitting the nearby slopes, one thing is for sure: you’ll need somewhere to refuel during your stay. 

In this guide, we’ll take you through the best restaurants in St. Charles, including where to enjoy great food and stock up on groceries to keep in your Bear Lake Luxury Rental kitchen.

Bear Lake Munchies

Photo Credit: Ezume Images
  • Price: $$
  • Address: 6668 N Beach Rd, St Charles, ID 
  • Website: Bear Lake Munchies
  • What to order: The Dominican-style chicken sandwich.

For one of the best casual dining experiences in St. Charles, you’ll want to stop into Bear Lake Munchies. Bear Lake Munchies is a Caribbean restaurant that specializes in Dominical style sandwiches. 

They’re open every day except for Thursday for lunch and dinner, and don’t expect your typical beach shack either- Bear Lake Munchies is famous for having some of the best sandwiches in the United States! 

Local favorites include the Dominican-style chicken sandwich, quesadillas, and the carne asada torta. The best part? Everything is made from scratch. 

Whether you’re looking to enjoy your sandwiches on one of their picnic tables, order them to-go to eat on the beach, or even take them back to your rental for a fun date night, you’ll love this Caribbean restaurant.

Bear Lake Munchies is located behind North Beach Rentals and Epic Recreation. You won’t want to miss them! 

Float On

Photo Credit: Float On
  • Price: $$
  • Address: 101 N Beach Rd, St. Charles, ID 
  • Website: Float On
  • What to order: The Pineapple Float or Edible Cookie Dough.

If you’re craving a sweet treat after a day out in the sunshine on Bear Lake’s beaches, Float On is the place to be. Located in a cheerful, blue building adorned with pineapple decorations, Float On is the premium ice cream shop in not just St. Charles but all of Bear Lake

This sweet creamery doesn’t just stop at traditional ice cream, either. You can take your pick of delicious edible cookie dough or even build your own cookie dough! Some of their cookie dough flavor combinations include the Charlie Brown with Peanut Butter Cup and Reese’s Pieces, and the Belgium, with triple chocolate Belgian Brownie. 

Float On’s specialty is, of course, their floats, and you’ll definitely want to give them a try. One of their most popular is the Pineapple Float, but they also have a Hogwarts Butterbeer Float, Georgia Peach Cobbler Float, and several rotating seasonal floats. 

Bear Cave

Photo Credit: Brent Hofacker
  • Price: $
  • Address: 554 Main St, St. Charles, ID 
  • Website: Bear Cave 
  • What to order: A “Pizza Burger” and Tropical Charlie milkshake.

Bear Cave is another one of the best restaurants in St. Charles that specializes in delicious burgers, fries, and milkshakes. At this beloved, locally owned eatery, you can order from the window and either take your food to go back to your rental, to the lake to enjoy on the beach, or take a seat and enjoy at one of their picnic tables on the outdoor patio.

Although Bear Cave is small, they are expanding every year. Just keep in mind that they are seasonal and only open during the summer. 

In addition to burgers, shakes, and fries, Bear Cave also offers tasty snacks like onions and tater tots. Plus,  this St. Charles bistro arguably has the best fry sauce in Idaho and Utah combined! 

Minnetonka Cafe & Market

Photo Credit: MSPhotographic
  • Price: $
  • Address: 194 N Main Street, St. Charles, ID
  • Website: Minnetonka Market & Cafe
  • What to order: A milkshake, and the Chuck Wagon Breakfast Sandwich for breakfast, and a fish basket for dinner.

If you’re craving something other than burgers and fries, you’ll want to check out the Minnetonka Cafe & Market. This cozy, local St. Charles restaurant is open all year long, and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the week. 

Their breakfast and brunch menu features delicious, classic breakfast plates like the ‘Little Round Up’, which comes with two eggs, hash browns, and toast, the ‘Around The Bend’ biscuits and gravy, and the Busted Bronc Breakfast Burrito. 

For lunch and dinner entrees, Minnetonka Cafe serves sandwiches, burgers, chicken strips, fish and shrimp baskets, and Minnetonka Mix tacos, quesadillas, and chimichangas. 

You can also enjoy tasty appetizers like fries, tots, and onion rings. The adjoining market is also a great place to pick up minor food items and road trip snacks.

While Minnetonka Market & Cafe may look unassuming from their exterior, this little mom n’ pop market and American restaurant is one of the best restaurants in St. Charles. Minnetonka Market & Cafe is open all year long and has some of the best comfort food you can find on the streets of St. Charles.

Nearby Grocer

One of the things we love so much about St. Charles is how peaceful it is. With that said, the tranquility in St. Charles is a tradeoff for some amenities, which means you will have to venture to the nearest town, Montpelier, to get groceries to cook at your luxury rental.

Broulim’s Grocery

It’s only a 20-minute drive from St. Charles to Broulim’s, so you won’t have to go far for groceries and supplies. Broulim’s is a good-sized grocery store and has everything you need to prepare meals during your stay in St. Charles, including a full deli. 

Get Ready to Experience St. Charles

Enjoying St. Charles isn’t just about the scenic beauty but also about savoring the simplicity of life. With these tasty and convenient dining and grocery options, you are all set to stay in one of our luxury rentals and explore one of North America’s oldest lakes.

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