Things to do at Bear Lake

This isn’t your usual Bear Lake post. Most people want to go to Bear Lake just for the beach, and we do that, too. But we also like to find everything there is to do around anywhere that we visit. So this post is all about the Things to do at Bear Lake, beach and more.

Let’s start with the lake itself, though. Bear Lake is often called the Caribbean of the Rockies. This is because of the beautiful aqua color of the water. Though it’s hard to capture in photos, it does look a little bit like Aruba.

The other great thing about the lake is that the beach is very shallowly sloped. This means that the water doesn’t get deep fast. In fact, we walked out nearly 100 yards and still didn’t get the water up much past our belly-buttons. This makes it awesome for kids. It also means that the water is much warmer than it would be if it were deeper. So the beach at Bear Lake is incredible.

The water is so shallow! It makes it fun for the kids to be able to play in the water.
The water is so shallow! It makes it fun for the kids to be able to play in the water.

There are a few public beaches at Bear Lake, and they are not equal. Rendezvous Beach on the Utah side (south end) is a great place for boating and playing, but there is more mud than some people like.

North Beach State Park

North Beach in Idaho has much more sugary sand, and feels much more like a California Beach. The problem with this beach is that there are thousands (literally) of people that go there on a hot summer day. This is our favorite beach to spend the day at with the shallow beach and lovely sand.

Beginning in 2022, the Idaho State Parks is recommending a day-use reservation. We did not get a reservation because we weren’t sure what day we were going to go and when I checked availability there were still 500 passes. We arrived around 9:30/10:00 in the morning and had no trouble getting in or finding a spot. If you visit on a weekend, I encourage you to get a reservation because those days were selling out. You can find more info and check availability on reservations here. Make sure to choose day-use and/or parking pass to get the correct reservation.

This is North Beach on a cold, windy Thursday. On Saturday there wasn't one space between the cars. You can drive right to the edge of the water and they have picnic tables you can try to claim if you're there in time.
This is North Beach on a cold, windy Thursday.

East Beach State Park

The East Beach State Park is also on the Idaho side of Bear Lake. This beach is less crowded, but has just as nice of a beach and water. It’s a little bit further drive, but we had a great time at this beach. Our family did get a few cars stuck since the sand is a little deeper, so be careful where you drive.

It was smoky when we visited last year, but the water was still nice and blue.
The sand was nice and soft on East Beach.

Garden City Park & Beach

Garden City has a public beach that does not require a fee, and you can find access to it by going to Garden City Park. It’s a little bit of a walk down to the beach, but it’s nice and FREE.

Garden City Beach
Garden City Beach

Click on any of the links below to read a full review of other things to do at Bear Lake.

Paris Ice Cave

Located about 15 miles north of Garden City, Paris, Idaho has several attractions that are worth your time (see below). Paris Ice Cave is a 10 mile drive on a dirt road, but it is our favorite site in the area. There are pillars of ice in a dark cave even in mid-July!


Paris Tabernacle

If you’re not up for the drive out to the Ice Cave, at least drive up to Paris and see the LDS Tabernacle. Built in the 1880s, it is still a working church building today. Across the street is a small historical museum, too.


Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

This beautiful refuge features birds and other animals and even a few hiking trails. We have seen moose, owls, peregrine falcons, osprey, and many water birds here.

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge has some fun hiking trails and beautiful scenery.
Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge has some fun hiking trails and beautiful scenery.

Limber Pine Trail

If hiking is your thing, you can head up to the summit of Logan Canyon a few miles west of Garden City and hike to a 600 year old limber pine tree. The hike is an easy 1.3 miles and very beautiful.


Bloomington Lake

A beautiful alpine lake at the top of the mountain features a sweet rope swing and cool water. Best of all, you get to hike through the forest to get there.

Bloomington Lake is beautiful, but busy. There is also an arch up in the rock walls up there.
Bloomington Lake is beautiful, but busy. There is also an arch (natural bridge?) up in the rock walls up there.

LaBeau’s Restaurant

Famous for it’s fresh raspberry shakes, this restaurant always has a line out front. You can get burgers and fries right in downtown Garden City at this local favorite.

Mmmm...raspberry shakes.
Mmmm…raspberry shakes.

Minnetonka Cave

This large cave features guided tours given by the forest service. There are 9 different rooms in the cave, which ventures deep into the mountain where it is a cool 40 degrees and very beautiful.


Bike Barn

The Bike Barn offers lots of different bike rentals for you to explore more of Garden City, including these fun surreys that can fit a family.

Bike Barn 2

Firefly Power Bikes

Here is another fun biking experience. Rent some power bikes to ride around Garden City. Use the throttle and skip the pedaling. We loved zooming around on the trails.

Garden City Pond

Not far off the main Bear Lake Blvd, is a small pond for fishing. Garden City Pond has a walking trail around it, and a tiny playground. This is a great spot to escape the crowds.

Garden City Pond 9

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Rachael

    At east beach, is there a parking lot or are you driving out on sand? You mentioned cars getting stuck…

    1. Natalie Ockey

      We drove out on to the sand because the water was so low, and most people were doing this. There is a road and parking lot, so that you do not have to drive through sand. It is quite a walk down to the water depending on water level, so plan on walking while the drought is going on.

  2. Ashley

    Hey – interested in Skiing around Bear Lake. Saw the resort and was wondering if there is winter activities and great family spots to stay. Any info would be great.

    1. Natalie Ockey

      We have not visited Bear Lake in the winter, so we are unfamiliar with what types of activities are available. We hope you have a great trip and find some winter adventures.

  3. Brooke

    I’m planning a trip soon to Bear Lake and found this post very helpful. Thanks!

  4. mjw

    We discovered a huge cabin rental by a company called Utah’s Best Vacation Rentals that sleeps 30+. 9 bedrooms with a theater and full game room. We loved it. Thought I would add it to your list renting a huge home with a group makes for one of the best vacations to Bear Lake. If you want to see this home its on their site

    1. Natalie

      Thanks! There are lots of great opportunities like this. We actually stayed in the Lighthouse (easily seen in North Garden City), which houses 60! Our neighborhood rented it out and we all stayed together!


  5. connie

    Where did You stay??

    1. Natalie

      We stayed at a rental home with extended family on the northeast corner of the lake. It had a private beach and room for 20. It was called the Three Bears Cottage.