Bear Lake State Park: sun, sand and swimming

Bear Lake State Park: sun, sand and swimming

Utah and Idaho share a lot in common, one thing being the beautiful turquoise blue waters of Bear Lake. Bear Lake State Park is on Idaho’s side of the lake and boasts one of the finest beaches in the admittedly land-locked Idaho.

Look at that color!

Bear Lake State Park consists of two recreational areas and a whole lot of water. The North beach is a long stretch of soft, white sand that lowers in elevation so slowly you feel like you are halfway to Utah before your waist is under water. East beach is about seven miles down the road and is a bigger area than North beach.

Bear Lake is twenty miles long by eight miles wide. The sand is very light in color, which helps turn the water the super pretty blue color. 

Bear Lake Idaho
North Beach, the Idaho side of Bear Lake.

State Park Overview

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Overall, we give this state park five stars.

The water and beach make this one of our favorite parks in the state park system.


  • Gorgeous water
  • Nice beach
  • Big enough to not feel crowded on a boat


  • Lots of people
  • Takes a long time to get to
  • Not a lot of bathrooms
Beautiful Bear Lake State Park.

What To Do

  • Boating
  • Jet skiing
  • Paddle boarding
  • Kayaking
  • Splashing around on the beach
  • Camping
  • Fishing


Amenities are pretty rustic. There are a few non flushing restrooms along the North Beach, but probably not enough for the number of people there. 

The Crowd Situation

Rating: 1 out of 5.

There’s a lot of people. The most we’ve seen at any state park yet. 

Look at this line to get in! Gross.

Unique to Bear Lake State Park

This park is the only park that is shared with another state. The water is also super blue…have I mentioned this? Well it is. We also learned that there are four species of fish that are only found in this here lake.

A Little History about Bear Lake State Park

Bear Lake used to be used by the Native Americans, long before the settlers arrived here in the 1850s. There is a hot springs nearby and it must have been delightful to have a nice bath there, pre-indoor plumbing. Bear Lake State Park came into effect in 1969.

Explore Nearby

  • Paris Tabernacle
  • Logan, Utah
  • Minnetonka Cave
  • Lava Hot Springs
Paris, Idaho Tabernacle
Paris Tabernacle is really cool building close to Bear Lake in the little town of Paris.

Our experience(s) at Bear Lake State Parks

I had been to the Utah side of Bear Lake several times and enjoyed boating and exploring the little town of Garden City. Before the Idaho State Parks Challenge, I didn’t even realize there was an Idaho side. I was missing out, though, because the North Beach was so nice! 

When we arrived we had to wait for about 15 cars/truck boat combos to enter the little strip of beach. We were lucky enough to find a parking spot (which B parallel parked like a boss) and then only had to find a spot in the sand to set up shop. There were lots and lots of people there; it looked like they were all the way down the full length of the beach, which was quite a distance. Most folks had elaborate setups with sunshades and tables, etc. They were clearly here for the long haul. We spread out our blankets on the second row behind the prime-time spots. 

After sun screening up, we waded into the water. And waded some more. And waded some more. We had to walk about a hundred yards (maybe? I’m terrible at estimating distance) before I was waist deep in the water and could start paddling around. We visited Bear Lake State Park in mid-August and the day was warm. The water felt pretty chilly. Not nearly as cold as Box Canyon Springs, but I had to stay swimming to stay comfortable. 

Swimming at Bear Lake
Wading WAY out into the lake…

One other thing to note: there are fish in this lake. B saw one buzzing past us and was a little alarmed.  


Bear Lake State Park is a beautiful state park in a remote corner of Idaho. Go there if you have a hankering for the ocean life and are limited in your beach-front dreams to Idaho. 

We visited Bear Lake State Park as part of our Idaho State Parks Challenge. The challenge consists of visiting all of Idaho’s state parks in one year. We made up this challenge to see a bit more of our beautiful state and help alleviate the restlessness caused by Covid-19 travel restrictions. Feel free to join the challenge!

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