For nearly all of our clients that start their trip in Salt Lake City and are heading north to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National parks, the first night is almost always at Bear Lake. Straddling the Utah and Idaho border, Bear Lake is a great place to get familiar with your RV as well as camping in the West.
Bear Lake is one of the largest natural lakes in the Western United States, known for its intense turquoise blue water, due to suspended limestone deposits. The greatest depth is 208 feet, with an average depth of 100 feet. The summer water temperature of the lake is a cool 70 degrees. The lake is 20 miles long and between four to eight miles wide, and lies half in Utah and half in Idaho. The lake is excellent for fishing, boating, and all water sports, but watch out for the “Bear Lake Monster,” a legend that is perpetuated to this day! There are campgrounds on the west (Bear Lake Marina State Park), south (Rendezvous Beach State Park – our favorite!), and east (East Side Beach State Park) sides of the lake that make sailing, swimming, and scuba diving easily accessible.
Get to Bear Lake via the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway. Ricks Springs Cavern and Logan Cave are popular roadside stops. Ricks Spring is both a spring and a diversion of the Logan River. The cave, which extends 4,000 feet into the mountain, is closed to protect the bats that live there. Tony Grove Recreation Area is about 25 miles from Garden City, and is an excellent spot for canoeing and fishing. At 8,050 feet, this glacial lake is surrounded by meadows full of wildflowers in the summer. Tony Grove is a must-see, whether or not you camp there. A .8 mile trail takes visitors around the lake, with interpretive information along the way.
Bikers are welcome at Bear Lake; the Bear Lake Scenic trail covers 5 miles in the Garden City area bordering the lake. The City Park has a boardwalk to the lake with more interpretive signs. Bike rentals are readily available. Make a stop in Garden City and enjoy a famous Bear Lake raspberry shake. The Bear Lake Raspberry Days Festival is held yearly the first week in August, but shakes are available year-round.
Nine miles up St. Charles Canyon, where moose are often spotted, is Minnetonka Cave, with nine rooms of stalactites, stalagmites, and banded travertine. There is a half-mile walk to the cave, with 400 steps up and down. Bring a jacket! The Paris Ice Caves contain ice all summer long, and are generally accessible by mid-July. While in Paris, stop to see the pioneer cemetery where polygamous founder of Rich County, Charles C. Rich, and his (many) wives are buried.
Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located on the north end of Bear Lake, near Montpelier, Idaho. There are 17 acres of marsh, open water and grasslands. A motor tour route and walking tours are available, but be advised that mosquitoes are plentiful!
So if you are ready to jump in an RV and see great destinations out west like Bear Lake, we can help you get there!