November 1, 2022

A Traveler's Guide to Bear Lake State Park

Bear Lake State Park sits immediately south of the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Formed by tectonic forces along the eastern Bear Lake fault line, this 966-acre park is roughly 150 miles northeast of Salt Lake City and 330 miles from Boise, Idaho.

The northern half of Bear Lake is located in Idaho, and the southern half is in Utah. Initially named Black Bear Lake by beaver trapper and fur trader Donald Mackenzie in 1819. This recreational paradise is 20 miles long and 8 miles wide.

Calcium carbonate in the lake's waters helps create the mesmerizing aquamarine blue water that has earned this freshwater lake its nickname, the Caribbean of the Rockies. Bear Lake State Park is a hidden gem of Utah that hugs Bear Lake's West and East shores. It incorporates the lake and three central shoreline locations along Bear Lake's West and East shores.

Once you’ve checked into your nearby luxury vacation rental home , it’s time for you to enjoy the beautiful outdoors in Bear Lake State Park.

Numerous recreational beaches dot the shoreline:

  • North Beach State Park, the North Beach boat ramp, and Idaho State Park sit at the northern tip.
  • On the east side of the lake are day-use areas of Bear Lake State Park, Idaho, also known as East Beach.
  • A mile or two further south is North Eden, while Cisco Beach is just across the Utah border.
  • And, the famous Rendezvous Beach sits at the lake's southernmost end.

Each location offers various amenities within the Utah and Idaho State Parks and is open from sunrise to sunset.

Summer at Bear Lake State Park

Photo Credit: Tampa

During the summer, the lake is a water lover's playground. While water levels can vary throughout the summer, the lake depth averages 207 feet and maintains a refreshing 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

A gradual shore-to-lake bottom slope provides an expansive swimming area. While still leaving lake goers ample space for sailing and paddle boarding.

Scuba diving is also popular at Bear Lake. The 207 foot depth allows for challenging and technical dives, and an underwater cave system leads directly to the lake.

Off the lake, eight hiking trails crisscross beautiful Bear Lake Valley. Many use this region for ATVs and biking.

Bear Lake State Park's proximity to the National Wildlife Refuge makes it a well-known birding destination important to dozens of migratory and nesting populations, including Canadian Geese, Terns, and a breeding population of American Bitterns.

Every summer, the lake is home to Raspberry Days - a two-day festival and nighttime boat parade celebrating all things raspberry .

Winter at Bear Lake State Park

Although some might shy away from the snowy weather, Bear Lake State Park is full of great winter activities for the entire family.

In the winter, anglers can try ice fishing along the southeastern shore of Bear Lake for the famed Bonneville Cisco . The Bonneville Cisco is one of three fish unique to Bear Lake. First appearing in the Pleistocene Era, these deep-water salmoniform fish are thin and agile -- growing only nine inches in length.

Bear Lake Valley's climate is just as accommodating in the winter as in the summer. With an average of 67 inches of snow each year, the Valley trails turn into groomed paths perfect for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling .

Several lake towns surround Bear Lake State Park, including Garden City, Utah, and Paris and Montpellier, Idaho. These communities have rich histories and numerous attractions to keep everyone entertained. Small grocery stores in each town sell basic supplies, and several restaurants and snack shops line Interstate 89 for when the hamburger and pizza cravings hit.

Bear Trail and Trailheads

Photo Credit: bearlake.org

Bear Lake State Park is also known for the Bear Trail , located near Garden City, Utah, on the lake's western shore. This 10.0-mile out-and-back trail is paved asphalt and smooth, and the route is easy, taking three hours to complete at a leisurely pace. Open year-round, it is perfect for road biking or running, too.

Another enjoyable path, Bear Lake Trail , is an easy 1.4-mile shore hike. It is paved and well-maintained, offering a peaceful walk along the beach.

Logan Upper Canyon Snowmobile Trail is actively groomed and open each winter for safe and exciting OHVs and cross-country ski use.

Park Marina

Photo Credit: bearlake.org

The Bear Lake State Park Marina on the west side of Bear Lake is open year-round, with roughly 360 short-term and long-term slips available. Slips accommodate sail and power boars up to 34 feet with a 12-foot beam. The Marina also provides dry and wet storage options for trailers and boats. The Marina is located on the north end of Garden City, Utah, and serves as the headquarters for this beautiful park.

Boat Ramps & Launches

Photo Credit: stateparks.utah.gov

Bear Lake State Park is known for excellent boating, and its calm water makes yacht sailing a dream. The lake is easily accessible through numerous boat ramps located around the lake.

There are five Bear Lake State Park-approved boat ramps and launches. All types of boats can be launched from Bear Lake State Park Marina and Rendezvous Beach, and in the east are First Point, Cisco Beach, and Rainbow Cove.

The Idaho North Beach boat also has a designated boat launch at the northernmost tip of the lake. Use of all boat launches is lake water level dependent for safety.

Fees & Day Pass

Day-use entry fee is required for all beaches and the Bear Lake State Park Marina. There are different rates for state residents and non-residents. And discounts for Seniors. Utah has a seasonal State Park Pass that visitors can use for park entry and in and out.

There are different rates for the beaches on the east side - including East Beach in Idaho, First Point, North Eden, South Eden, Rainbow Cove, North Eden, and Cisco Beach.

Parking

Each central Bear Lake State Park has sufficient free parking for day users and overnight camping guests.

Beaches

While these lake beaches and recreational areas offer all activities, dogs are unfortunately not permitted on any beach or other part of Bear Lake State Park, including on the lake.

Rendezvous Beach

Photo Credit: hannadanyal via Instagram

Rendezvous Beach sits on Bear Lake's south shore near Laketown. Another day-use area, it is well-loved for a day in the sun or an impromptu family meal. The sand volleyball courts and picnic tables on this two-mile sandy beach are almost always in use. And the local concessionaire, Rendezvous Beach Rentals, offers beach equipment rentals . They also sell snacks, drinks, last-minute picnic supplies, and necessary items.

On the western shoreline is Epic Adventure Center for year-round water-based enjoyment. The Center offers Bear Lake Boat Tours for a leisurely tour of the beautiful Bear Lake. The Center also provides personal watercraft rentals and water skiing lessons in the Summer. In the winter, visitors can rent snowmobiles and ATVs for outdoor snow-filled fun.

Island Aqua Park

Immediately adjacent to Rendezvous Beach is Island Aqua Park . This unique playground is a staffed floating obstacle course located offshore in shallower water.

Eastside Beaches

On the east side of Bear Lake State Park, Utah, ten miles north of Laketown and accessed via Cisco Road, are highly primitive day-use beaches, including First Point, South Eden, North Eden, Rainbow Cove, and Cisco Beach. Here the terrain is craggy, and the water depth quickly reaches 207 feet. These beaches are primarily for boating, fishing, and advanced scuba diving. South Eden campground provides drinking water.

Cisco Beach

Cisco Beach offers excellent inland scuba diving within two designated diving areas. These are marked for safety, with nearby wooden boardwalks serving as platforms for equipment portage and preparation. This part of Bear Lake State Park is famous for its winter shallow dip net fishing for the Bonneville Cisco.

East Beach

Also on the lake's eastern shore, just over the Idaho border, is Bear Lake State Park, Idaho. This day-use, East Beach, sits just below the East Shore Marina and offers basic amenities, including campsites, hookups, and picnic tables.

Tours and Rentals

Photo Credit: bigbear.com

Also on the western shoreline is Epic Adventure Center for year-round water-based enjoyment. The center offers Bear Lake Boat Tours for a leisurely tour of the beautiful Bear Lake. The center also provides personal watercraft rentals and water skiing lessons in the summer. In the winter, park goers can rent snowmobiles and ATVs for outdoor snow-filled fun.

Rendezvous Beach Rentals are available for beach equipment rentals, including jet skis, kayaks, paddle boats, wakeboards, UTVs, and bicycles.

Enjoy Your Time at Bear Lake State Park

Bear Lake State Park, high in the Rocky Mountains, is the perfect location to spend time with family or for a few days of solo relaxation any time of the year.