A Weekend Itinerary for Bear Lake State Park

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Welcome to Bear Lake, Utah, nicknamed the Caribbean of the Rockies. With its sandy beaches and clear blue waters, this oasis in the high mountains is well worth a visit. Escape the heat of the lower valleys by surfing behind a boat, stand-up paddle boarding, and finishing the day with a giant raspberry shake.

Bear Lake State Park encompasses both the main marina and several beaches around the lake. Many of the state parks in Utah are reservoirs, and lakes but Bear Lake is a step up from the rest. These clear blue waters (100 square miles) are caused by limestone and are a remnant of an ancient ocean. Its size alone makes it the the third largest natural lake in Utah, but in contrast to Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake, these waters are clear and inviting. Half the lake actually resides in Idaho, making it home to two state parks.

Another distinct feature of the lake in comparison to many in Utah, is its sandy bottom and shallow waters. You can actually walk fairly far out from the shore, making it a great place for the kids to play, for paddling, and for swimming (check out the local triathlon). The 200-foot-deep center gives boaters plenty of space for the high-adrenaline sports. The area supports abundant wildlife, including bald eagles who feed from the waters.

One drawback of this marvelous lake is the cold water temps and limited summer season. At 6,000 feet in elevation, the lake spends much of the year iced over and covered in snow. That’s no problem if you like snowmobiling and ice fishing.

For others, though, it can be a bit of a let down. One professor at Utah State University, which is forty miles down the road, chose working at the school because someone told him about this being the Caribbean of the Rockies. His dreams of cocktails with umbrellas were replaced with snow cones. He had to ask his students wear to buy a coat as he’d prepared for beaches of sand and not snow.

Nearby Attractions

The weather at Bear Lake can change in an instant, causing the waters to turn dangerous and treacherous. When that happens (or when you’re just plain tired), head to town for some dry land adventures.

Raspberry Shakes (or any other kind you can think of)

You cannot go to Bear Lake without partaking in something raspberry. The area is known for the fruit (check out Raspberry Days) and you can buy it in a plethora of ways but shakes are the most delicious and the most popular way. Looking for a good place is easy: simply drive down the main road and pullover at one of the several spots each with their own character. We chose Merlin’s because we heard they had amazing cheese fries (and they did) along with sky-high shakes. A local recommended the shakes at the Chevron gas station so you really can’t go wrong.

With old license plates and dollar bills signed by customers, the surroundings of Merlins is tourist kitsh at its finest.

If you haven’t had enough sugar, check out the Chocolate Bear for chocolate-covered raspberries and many other delectables. But for an amazing brunch, hit the store at 10 am on Saturday for fresh cinnamon rolls.

Logan Canyon Scenic Drive

Depending on what route you take to the lake, you’ll drive through Logan Canyon, a scenic byway. This canyon is home to multiple hikes and a great way to escape the sun. Limber Pine Trail is a family-friendly trailhead with views of the lake and interpretive signs teaching about the nature that abounds. The looped trail passes a 500-year-old limber pine that is actually several trees grown together.

The Limber Pine tree
View from the Limber Pine Trail to Bear Lake (unfortunately, this hike was besot by wildfire smoke).

Bridgerland Adventure Park

When the winds inevitably pick up in the afternoon, head to Bridgerland Adventure Park. This park contains a ropes course with four levels that is NOT for the faint of heart. Trust me, I felt faint on level one. Luckily, you can pick and choose which level you’re most comfortable with. If the answer to that question is none of them, then you can opt for the giant swings, zip line, or even ax throwing. If you’re on the quiet side of adventure; there is a tube slide, miniature golf course, and children’s train.

For an outdoor adventure without ever having to get outside, check out the Lost Gorge Mystery series!

Lost Gorge Mystery Series

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7 thoughts on “A Weekend Itinerary for Bear Lake State Park

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  1. Right up my alley, although I only like to swim when I’m really hot! I’m partial to those high-elevation lakes, not to mention all things raspberry!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This looks lovely, I had no idea it existed! I totally should have made a detour here when I was driving north through Arizona and Utah and then through Idaho to get to Washington. I was thinking maybe next time I’ll plan a Wyoming trip and take that same route for the first half before turning east, maybe I can include it then!

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    1. If you’re heading to Wyoming, I would highly recommend Flaming Gorge. It’s a large reservoir on the Utah/Wyoming border with the most gorgeous mountains and forests on the Utah side. Wyoming is pretty dry.

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  3. Caribbean of the Rockies!? Well that is a good way to encourage people that love both swimming and mountains! I don’t normally think of Utah as lake-y, but Bear Lake State Park looks fabulous! It must be pretty cool to be able to walk far our in the sandy waters too…

    I quite like the sound of it in winter too, once it is frozen over.

    Liked by 1 person

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