Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Bear Lake

  • Published 2023/02/28

With its unique location within the Utah-Idaho borders and surrounding sprawls of mountains, Bear Lake is a great destination to experience the best of the western United States.

Spreading over 100 square miles, Bear Lake is a popular tourist destination for those looking to spend a relaxing vacation amid nature.

The freshwater lake has been dubbed the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its unique turquoise-blue color, the product of limestone deposits.

Residents of surrounding towns have also come to welcome and provide activities and things to do for visitors year-round.

Here are the best things to do in Bear Lake:

Connect with Nature at the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

The sky reflecting on Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge's water

William Cushman /

Located north of Bear Lake is the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge, an idyllic preserve protecting and managing the habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds.

Established in 1968, the refuge spreads over 18,000-acres, comprising cattail marsh, open water and flooded meadows.

Hay bale on the grounds of Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Wirestock Creators /

Visitors can see the untouched nature on the reserve’s grounds, observe local birds in their natural habitat, and explore their migration patterns.

Also, explore the different varieties of local flora and fauna at the refuge, showcasing Idaho’s beautiful nature.

Wetlands of Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

vagabond54 /

Stay in the Cozy Garden City

Sitting on the western cusp of the lake in Utah is Garden City, a small town beside Bear Lake.

Garden City is the ideal destination for travelers looking for cozy lodging, a stone’s throw away from all the excitement and nature of Bear Lake.

Visitors can check out the beautiful accommodations in town, such as the Beaver Creek Lodge and Waters Edge Resort.

Garden City also hosts a small bevy of local food businesses that visitors can try, from coffee to fresh crepes, pizza and classic American comfort fare.

Those doing more extended stays can also drop by the local markets in town to shop and stock their pantries in Bear Lake.

Dropping by Garden City is a must-do when in Bear Lake!

See a Show at the Pickleville Playhouse Theater

One of Utah’s unique family theater experiences is at the Pickleville Playhouse Theater in Bear Lake.

Since its first show in 1977, the theater has provided family fun and entertainment in the area for over 40 years.

The theater currently hosts two productions for the summer: “New Sherriff in Town,” a Pickleville original, and “Beauty and the Beast,” a Disney classic.

After the shows, catch some grub at the adjacent Pickleville Grill, serving delicious Mexican fusion dishes.

Budding actors can also enroll in the theater’s workshops and theater camps, building up their skills to become stars on the stage.

Pickleville Playhouse Theater is a fun bonding activity for people visiting Bear Lake.

It’s a unique gem amid nature.

Go Glamping at Conestoga Ranch

Glamping is where nature and luxury meet to give visitors a whole new camping experience.

No destination is better for glamping than Conestoga Ranch in Bear Lake.

Voted as one of USA Today’s 2020 Top Best Glamping Spots in America, Conestoga Ranch is a gem, giving the best of Utah’s nature paired with first-class customer service.

Camp out on the ranch’s unique accommodations featuring a “wagon” that can accommodate up to 6 people.

There are also the traditional glamping tents for smaller groups and couples.

All the tents come equipped with plush and fluffy beds and their own bathroom spaces, paired with the woody interiors and the open layout that lets in the fresh air.

Visitors can also partake in the relaxing activities at the resort, including yoga classes by the lake.

Conestoga Ranch is also a favorite wedding destination for its overall romantic vibe amongst the beauty of nature.

Ski the Slopes at Beaver Mountain

Beaver Mountain is the perfect winter destination in Bear Lake.

Located in Northern Utah, Beaver Mountain’s peak has opened to visitors since 1939.

It’s a favorite destination for locals and tourists looking for an exciting mountain adventure.

You can find a lodge near the skiing area’s tip, with ski supplies and amenities available to buy or rent.

Visitors can access the peak of the slopes through the different lifts that lead up to the top: the Little Beaver Lift, leading to the course for beginners; the Beaver’s Face Lift, for more intermediate skiers; and the Harry’s Dream Lift and Margie’s Triple Lift, named after family members of the owners.

Enjoy the cool air and the altitude as you cruise down the slopes of Beaver Mountain.

It’s an exciting experience that you shouldn’t miss in Bear Lake.

Admire the Limestones at Minnetonka Cave

View inside the Minnetonka Cave

Joe Guetzloff /

Located in the Cache National Forest in Idaho, Minnetonka Cave is one of the larger limestone caves in the state.

Its name comes from one of three indigenous dialects of the people who used to inhabit the area: Dakota, Lakota and Nakota.

Rooting from “Mni Tanka,” Minnetonka translates to “Large Water.”

Visitors can hike the entirety of the cave’s interior, about a half-mile distance each way.

Rock formations in Minnetonka Cave

isabel jones, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Admire the cave’s natural stalactite and stalagmite formations.

The caves also stay at a cool temperature year-round, maintaining a 40-degree Fahrenheit temperature.

Guided tours are also available for visitors who want to hear the history and details behind the limestone caves.

Minnetonka Cave is just one of the numerous natural jewels located on the perimeter of Bear Lake.

Feel the Adrenaline at Bridgerland Adventure Park

Bridgerland Adventure Park is an excellent destination in Bear Lake for those looking for an adventure beyond the water.

There are over a dozen activities for visitors to partake in, from the daring to mild.

Those looking for an adrenaline rush can do the zip line, free fall, and rock climbing.

There are also swings and rope courses and a bungee tramp for the adventurous visitor.

Practice your aim with the ax throw and see if you can hit the target.

Apart from the more high-energy activities, there are also playgrounds, bounce houses, and little trains for kids to play around in.

There are also mini-golf and disc golf courses for an active but more relaxing activity to do in the park.

If you’re looking for a fun-filled day of activities beyond the beach, then a visit to Bridgerland Adventure Park is for you!

Conquer the Trails at Bridger Peak

On the cusp of the Idaho-Utah border is Bridger Peak trail, a three-and-a-half-kilometer hike that showcases the beauty of the area’s mountains.

The trail goes up to an elevation of 300m and is generally a moderately challenging route.

On average, it takes around an hour and a half to complete.

The trek up is full of steep hills, dirt roads, and bushwhack, but the effort will be worth it once you reach the views at the top.

Experienced hikers and trekkers shouldn’t miss a chance to conquer Bridger Peak in Bear Lake.

Dig into American Favorites at LaBeau’s

Opened in 1981, LaBeau’s is a local favorite in Garden City, serving up comfort food in a retro outpost.

Try a flavor or two of their famous milkshakes, with raspberry being the most popular.

Pair your milkshake with an order of one of their hamburgers or hot sandwiches.

Don’t forget to get some fries to complete the entire dining experience.

Locals and visitors love coming to LaBeau’s for its friendly atmosphere and delicious food.

Come to LaBeau’s to experience the community and overall good vibes of Garden City when visiting Bear Lake.

Unleash Your Inner Scout at the Bear Lake Aquatics Base

Enjoy a unique camping experience by setting up shop at the Bear Lake Aquatics Base.

The campsite is a unique beachfront experience where visitors can enjoy both the pleasures of land and sea.

Visitors can set up their tents on the campgrounds, with restrooms, potable water stations and a campfire pit all within reach.

The Boy Scouts of America also have an outpost on the base’s grounds, sometimes conducting activities and organizing events open to visitors.

Put Bear Lake Aquatics Base on your radar for a unique waterfront camping adventure.

Rev Your Engines at the Little Bear ATV Trailhead

A trip down to the Little Bear ATV Trailhead for automobile maniacs is a must-try experience in Bear Lake.

Located just off Hardware Ranch Road on Logan Canyon, the Little Bear ATV Trailhead is one of the multiple ATV trails located in the area.

Even for experienced drivers, the trail is challenging with rocky slopes and rough roads.

Experienced an adrenaline-filled drive paired with a tour of the area’s nature and wildlife as you drive through the dirt roads of Little Bear.

See the Beauty of Nature at Bear Lake State Park

Scenic view of Bear Lake State Park

Tampa /

Make the most out of your visit to Bear Lake by visiting Bear Lake State Park.

The park offers visitors the best of Bear Lake, with opportunities to enjoy the sparkling blue waters and the sandy beaches.

Located in the southeastern corner of Idaho near the Cache Mountain range, the park’s unusual geography contributes to the unique nature of the destination.

The 20-mile-long strip of beach is partially in Idaho and partially in Utah.

Visitors can enjoy water sports and activities during their visit.

You can go swimming, boating and fishing in Bear Lake.

Likewise, relaxing on the shore is another popular activity.

Sunbathing and relaxing beach picnics are popular with tourists, especially in the summer.

Beach volleyball and football are some fun sports to play beachside as well.

You can rent some campsites to pitch your tents to those looking to stay a night or two.

It’s a fun way to bask in nature and enjoy Bear Lake State Park.

Give Yourself a Sweet Treat at Crepes and Coffee

Located along Bear Lake Boulevard in Garden City is Crepes and Coffee, a favorite haunt among locals.

Crepes and coffee serve the best of its namesakes in town, offering sweet and savory crepes best paired with a fresh, hot cup of joe.

Dig into their creations such as the Clasico crepes, made with egg, ham and cheese; Mrs. Butterworth’s crepe with butter, maple syrup and powdered sugar; or the Popeye with spinach, egg, ham and tomatoes.

You can also customize and add more toppings to their set combinations.

Buckwheat crepes are also available upon request for a healthier alternative to the usual flour crepes.

Don’t forget to cap your meal off with one of the restaurant’s many drink options.

Just ask the barista for their best-sellers and daily recommendations.

Don’t miss Crepes and Coffee for a sweet treat in Bear Lake!

See the Wonder of the Paris Ice Cave

Located along the Paris Canyon is Paris Ice Cave, a natural wonder in the area surrounding Bear Lake.

Paris Ice Cave gets its name literally, as the ice encapsulating the area remains frozen year-round, even during the hottest summers.

This results from the water and runoff descending from surrounding hills into the cave.

From the tip of Paris Canyon, the Paris Ice Cave is almost a 10-mile trek.

Vehicles can pass up to a certain point, but you can reach the main area by hiking on the canyon’s nearby grounds.

While it may not have the rock formations of usual cave destinations, Paris Ice Cave is a unique natural marvel.

You can only find this cave in Bear Lake.

Drop by and see for yourself!

Play Golf in a Gorgeous Landscape at the Bear Lake Golf Course

Golf enthusiasts should put the Bear Lake Golf Course on their list when visiting the area.

The course presents an unparalleled green landscape and the beautiful scenic views of Bear Lake.

Visitors can play a few rounds of golf surrounded by peaceful nature, perfect for a relaxing, concentrated game.

After teeing off, visitors can relax at the in-house restaurant or sports bar at the golf course.

Grab a few beers or a glass of wine after a thrilling game.

Chill by the Pavilions at Rendezvous Beach

Within Bear Lake State Park, there’s a multitude of attractions waiting for you to come and experience them.

One of these is Rendezvous Beach.

This south-end Bear Lake stop features a sandy beach with pavilions for your group gatherings.

One of its charming assets is its restaurant near the shore, Laketown Drive-In.

The warm atmosphere and scenic sunset mountain vistas of the beach make it the ideal family vacation destination.

It also has tent camping sites within the area.

So, get your beach essentials ready for a day spent at this promising beach!

Rendezvous Beach is on North Bear Lake Boulevard in Laketown, Utah.

Go on a Jet Ski Adventure with the Help of Bear Lake Fun

Ready to traverse Bear Lake’s wide-open water on a family-sized boat?

Then, you might want to seek the help of Bear Lake Fun.

This rental company has about every possible watercraft for rent!

Whether you’d like a more adventurous trip along the waters on a ski boat or a large party with all your close friends on a wake boat, you can trust this company has something in store for your water excursions.

Bear Lake Fun also offers UTV rentals if you prefer a land-based escapade.

Get going to South Bear Lake Boulevard in Garden City to reach the rental center.

Start a Hike at Limber Pine Trail

Within the Bear Lake area, Limber Pine Trail is famous for its easy hiking route.

Spanning over 2 kilometers, this trail runs across fir and aspen trees.

It also features wildflower meadows, sagebrush valleys, and Rocky Mountain junipers.

During winter, the trail is also a common spot for snowshoeing.

At the top, you’ll also get glimpses of the turquoise shade of Bear Lake, as well as Lake Canyon.

Limber Pine Trail starts at US Route 89 within the community of Garden.

Try Scuba Diving at Cisco Beach

The waters of Cisco Beach

JF Hobbs, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Of all the beaches around Bear Lake, Cisco Beach has some of the best underwater rock and wildlife sightings.

This is why many come by this beach for a scuba diving experience.

Its diving depths reach as far back as 208 feet.

The beach is mainly known for its peaceful surroundings and not-so-busy days.

Whether you prefer to swim shallow or uncover the depths of the ocean with a quick scuba diving adventure, this beach might be for you.

Cisco Beach got its name from the Bonneville Cisco Fish, which is a regular resident within this part of Bear Lake.

And you can find it on North Cisco Road in the city of Laketown.

Cool Down with a Milkshake at Bear Lake Raspberry Days

When you visit Bear Lake, your trip is never complete without tasting the place’s famous raspberry shakes.

And what better way to start your tasting journey than at Bear Lake Raspberry Days?

This annual festival, held every August, is a celebration of the raspberry harvest in July.

Its program line-up features a parade, a bingo competition, and live concerts.

There are also fun runs and eating contests you can take part in.

But best of all, the festival brings together some of the best raspberry milkshakes Bear Lake’s restaurants and cafes have to offer.

Bear Lake Raspberry Days takes place in various locations in the beautiful Garden City in Utah.

Final Thoughts

Bear Lake is a great destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers.

Whether you wish to try land or water adventures, Bear Lake offers various activities that will excite your senses.

Start planning your trip to Bear Lake!

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