Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

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Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge is very scenic.
Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge is very scenic.

A lot of people go to Bear Lake just for the beach, but for us, there is so much more to do. The Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge borders Bear Lake to the north in Idaho, so it’s an easy stop and a fun place to explore.


As we drove on North Beach Road over to North Beach State Park we saw Bald Eagles, Cormorants, Osprey, Sandhill Cranes, Pelicans, and Geese all relaxing in the Wildlife Refuge on the north side of the road. But to get a real view of the refuge, you need to enter near Paris, Idaho. In Paris, take 2nd North and head east. This road turns into Dingle Bottoms Rd, and at 2.6 miles, you will turn right into the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Watch for this sign at the entrance.
One of the bald eagles we saw near North Beach.

Once you enter the refuge there are a few different stops to make. You can take the auto tour which is a one way drive. We saw the most birds here including Trumpeter Swans and their cygnets, as well as a Great Blue Heron eating fish. So definitely take this little loop.

The swans were our favorite sighting.
The Great Blue Heron ate two fish before he got tired of us watching him.

If you continue down the main road, you will come across two trails to walk. The first trail is a short walk to a blind where you can look for birds. We saw some ducks, and lots of ibises flying overhead. There were a few coots, too.

The main road follows this river.
There were ibises all over!
This is the start of the first trail.
The blind where you can hide from the birds and animals.

The other trail is a little further down the road. There is a sign with a bench and some information about the birds on the refuge. Just across the road is a trail that heads east. We followed this trail for 0.5 miles to a bridge that crosses the river. The trail continues on for a while longer, but our boys didn’t want to walk much farther. We really liked this little walk, though we didn’t see too much along the way. If we’d been there early in the morning or later in the evening, it would’ve been much more productive.

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge has some fun hiking trails and beautiful scenery.
This trail was pretty, but watch out for all the bird droppings.
There were a few signs and benches along this trail.
We walked out to the bridge but the trail goes on for awhile longer.
We did spot a muskrat.
These pelicans flew overhead.

The Bear River Wildlife Refuge doesn’t have a visitor’s center here on the refuge. Their office is in Montpelier, but there is a sign where you can pick up maps so that you can find your way around. It’s a great way to spend a few hours when you get tired of the beach. Give it a try!

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