This pristine lake, now thought to be perhaps one of the oldest bodies of water in the region, is located 90 minutes south of Pocatello in the far southeastern corner of Idaho. Half the lake is in Utah, half in Idaho. It is 20 miles long and 8 miles wide and reaches a depth of 208 feet on the east side.
The lake gets its striking blue color from suspended limestone particles, which reflect light. At more than a mile high, though, the climate is changeable, so you may not always see the lake at its bluest. After a storm, when the particles are stirred up, can be a good time to see the color.
Legend has it that there is a Bear Lake monster, with a serpent's body and horse's head, that inhabits the lake. Youíll have to research that on your own!
The lake is a remnant of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which covered parts of Utah, southern Idaho and Nevada. Geologic faulting caused the lake to tilt. The north end, which drained, is now a productive marsh, providing habitat for more than 160 different species of birds.
Native Americans, trappers and mountain men came to Bear Lake for trading rendezvous. In the 1860ís, the area was settled by Mormons, sent by Brigham Young in Utah. After a massacre of Native Americans in 1863 by the California Volunteers, most Indians resettled on reservations.
Today the area still has many historic Mormon sites and provides a vacation spot for Utahns, who are developing their side of the lake. On the Idaho side, North Beach provides a convenient boat launching site.
The east side of the lake remains more undeveloped, and is set against dry hills. The west side of the lake is at the base of the Bear Lake range and provides more space for agricultural land and housing. The high country on the west side of the lake is beautiful and can be accessed quite readily by car, horse or snowmobile (see section on high country for more information.)
There are four fish found nowhere else in the world in Bear Lake: the Bear Lake whitefish, the Bonneville whitefish, the Bear Lake sculpin and the Bonneville cisco. Many people fish for Bear Lake cutthroat and lake trout (Mackinaw) as well. (see Terry's fishing tips for more information.)
For those who don't care to fish, there are many beaches on which to relax and a 4 mile bike trail along the lake.
The National Oregon Trail Museum is a community volunteer organization dedicated to promoting the pioneer trails in the state of Idaho and surrounding states. The Center sits directly on the Oregon Trail.
For additional information call 1-800-448-BEAR or check out their web site at http://www.oregontrailcenter.org
On July 24, 1999 (or annually on the closest Friday or Saturday to the 24th) the "The Oregon Trail Rendezvous Pageant" is performed at
Banks Valley south of Montpelier . A Dutch Oven dinner and pageant are presented on the Oregon Trail. For ticket, times etc. call Judy at
In early July 1999, the "California Trail Gold Rush Wagon Train of the 49'rs" will pass through Montpelier with dinner and small activities planned. This is not a reoccurring event. Call (307) 266-4868 for more information or check out this website: www.goldrushwagontrain.com
The first week of August, Laketown and Garden City, UT host "Raspberry Days," a celebration of the fruit raised in the area. The second week in September there is a mountain man rendezvous on the south shore of Bear Lake. Call (801)946-3343 for more information.