Bear Lake: The Caribbean of the Rockies

A woman stand up paddle boarding on Bear Lake, Utah
A woman stand up paddle boarding on Bear Lake, Utah Louis Arevalo
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Just north of Garden City, UT, along the western shore of Bear Lake is the Bear Lake State Park and Marina. Bear Lake’s beauty along with the marina’s facilities and beaches makes it an ideal place for boating, fishing, playing, and camping.

Bear Lake is a 20-mile long and eight-mile wide natural lake. The northern half is located in Idaho and the southern half in Utah with the state lines dividing it. The turquoise color of the lake comes from the mineral calcium carbonate. The vibrant waters have lead some people to call it the Caribbean of the Rockies. The lake was named in the 1800’s Black Bear Lake, but was later renamed to just Bear Lake.

What Makes It Great

If you have a sailboat, Bear Lake is the place for you. With calm water, a consistent afternoon breeze, and tons of room to maneuver, it has to be one of Utah’s best places to unfurl the sails. There’s nothing better than watching the sunset over the Bear River Mountains from the deck of a boat. The marina has a large paved boat launch and berths that can hold over 100 ships within its sheltered harbor.

Bear Lake beyond Garden City, Utah
Bear Lake beyond Garden City, Utah Louis Arevalo

The calm and tranquil water of the lake has also made it a huge water skiing and wakeboarding destination. Jet skiing is just as popular. With the lake having so much open surface area you are guaranteed to find the perfect spot to skim the water. You can find rental boats and jet skis at the marina or in one of the nearby cities.

In addition, the trophy fishing attracts tons of people to Bear Lake. Most are hoping to hook a cutthroat or lake trout, but you may also land whitefish and carp. Trolling is popular across the lake and casting from the rocky embankment of the marina can be productive.

Be sure to bring you stand up paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes as well. Quietly cruising the shores south of the marina will lead to seeing beautiful waterfowl in the lake’s marshes. Starting from the beach at the marina you can head north to explore the beaches along the west shore. If you don’t feel like cruising, then just drifting and playing in the shallow and warm water near the marina’s beach can’t be beat.

With depths reaching 200 feet Bear Lake is also great place for fresh water scuba diving. The steep drop off and rocky bottom of Cisco Beach is a popular place for divers. It’s 10 miles north of Laketown on the east side of Bear Lake.

Camping at Bear Lake State Park can be found at the marina, Rendezvous Beach, and Cisco Beach. The Marina and Rendezvous Beach sites have water, flush toilets, and showers, while Cisco is primitive.

While you are hanging at the “Caribbean of the Rockies” be sure to eat your fill of raspberries. Bear Lake raspberries are world famous and each August the harvest is celebrated with a festival. If you happen to miss the festival, don’t worry you can still have a raspberry milk shake at any number of drive-ins surrounding the lake.

Riley Hymas fishing at Bear Lake, Utah
Riley Hymas fishing at Bear Lake, Utah Louis Arevalo

What You’ll Remember

Having a blast on the water! With everything from swimming and paddling to watersports and fishing, this lake is an adventure all its own. Who can forget the famous raspberry shakes?

Who’s Going to Love It

Anyone who loves being down by the water. Fishermen, watersport enthusiasts, families with little swimmers, and anyone looking to get away from it all for a day, weekend, or longer.

GPS Coordinates, Parking, and Regulations

GPS Coordinates for the Marina: 41.9637, 111.3993

There are various fees for the different beaches, campsites, boating areas, and other rentals around the lake. Check with Utah State Parks for more specifics on Bear Lake or call 435-946-3343.

Through Logan, UT: Take I-15 to US 89/91 in Brigham City. Stay on US 89/91 into Logan. Follow US 89 through Logan Canyon to Garden City. Turn left on US 89, travel approx. 1 mile north of Garden City.

From Evanston, WY: Take WY SR89 north. At the UT/WY boarder, the road changes to UT SR16. Stay on UT SR16 to Sage Creek Junction. At Sage Creek Junction, turn left (west) onto UT SR30. At US 89 / UT SR30 junction, continue north approx. 1 mile through Garden City on US89.

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