For families coming to vacation at Bear Lake, “What is the best beach?” is a common question, and not an easy one to answer as the amount of actual sandy beach with public access changes each year.
This summer season (2017) we will have a very full Bear Lake from our wet winter. Runoff is flowing high and some sandy beaches will all be underwater. So if you are new to Bear Lake and want to know where to take your family, here is the opinion of one local beach goer.
First choice would be Bear Lake Hot Springs on the Idaho side. The entrance to drive onto the sand has nothing to do with the water level so I suspect visitors will still be able to park on the sand. A huge plus for when you are unloading gear for the day. I can’t remember the entrance fee but with a coupon I think a day use was $5 (their website was unclear on what their beach access fee was). They also have a long stretch of sand to play on. And there is no beach grass, which means fewer bugs. Especially the ones that bite. I have never had a problem with deer flies or mosquitoes here. The only complaint I have is that this beach had ATVs on their beach and dogs, so we were annoyed by the noise of both on the days we visited.
A very close second choice would be North Beach on the Idaho side. (I actually visit this beach the most)
This beach is a super long stretch of beautiful sand, perfect to play in with few rocks. And like the Bear Lake Hot Springs beach, there is no annoying beach grass. No dogs are allowed- a plus for my kids. Of all the angles to view the lake, I love this one the most as I feel the mountains in the distance frame so well.
Because of the expected high water this summer, don’t expect to park on the sand near the water as the only access is on the boat ramp. When it’s underwater, we have to park way up by the main road and haul our gear down. Not an easy task, but doable. Entrance fee is $5 a day (cheaper than the Utah State Parks)
North Beach is also perfect for small kids. The slope of the water is so gradual they can walk out far and it’s barely to their waist. No sudden drop offs to worry about. The sand is so fun to build castles and anything. It’s not overrun with shells like other beaches are.
If you come this summer, plan on arriving early to set up your spot. I suspect it will have more visitors than usual. My only complaint is it gets very crowded as the day progresses.
Another beach to visit this summer is Rendezvous Beach on the Utah side.
This is a Utah State park and has an entrance fee of $10 for day use. I suspect we also won’t be able to park on the sand as what sand is available will be left for the beach goers. The length of this beach is less than North Beach, but also has some good sandy spots. It does have the beach grass near by, which in my experience is home to biting insects. You will definitely want bug spray at Rendezvous Beach.
I hate to say it but I don’t think Garden City will have any sand to play with at their beaches for 2017. All the sand and grass you see below is predicted to be underwater. And as you can see, Garden City has a lot of grass and wetlands not suitable for building sand castles.
The Garden City Park beach might have a small section of sand with the high water, but I think only 5-10 families can fit there. Below are two pictures from the last time the lake waters were high. As you can see, it’s not an ideal spot with the debris and rocks, and the bugs are way annoying the closer you get to the wetlands around the park boardwalk.
There is a small beach section at the Bear Lake Marina in Garden City. Entrance fee is $10 a day. I like to be able to rent a paddle board right there on the beach. But I don’t like the bugs. I’ve always come away with bites, and one year I had a bad allergic reaction. With the high waters this year, there won’t be much of the sandy beach, only for a few families. And it’s right close to the main highway.
The east side of Bear Lake won’t have much sand to play on either. Most of the beaches there are covered in rocks anyway. The east side is also known for sudden drop offs out in the water. The deepest part of the lake is over on the east side, 200 ft.
Rocks cover the stretch of beach between Ideal Beach and Rendezvous Beach on the southwest end of Bear Lake. In the past, it’s been a great place to park and play at the lake because it is free, and the sandy part is just beyond the rocks. But this year, most of it will be under water, and only the rocky beach will be visible.
So these are my suggestions for the summer year of 2017. We love all the the much needed water, but hate to see the public sandy beaches go underwater.
Personally, I would love to see more public access points become available around the lake. I don’t think Fish Haven has any! More access to Bear Lake is needed especially since it has become more popular in the last ten years and will continue to grow.