Bear Lake: A Winter Weekend Getaway


Snow Brings a Monstrosity of Fun to Bear Lake

Okay, I’m going to fill you in on a little secret. Bear Lake, aptly referred to as the “Caribbean of the Rockies,” offers more than just summertime adventures filled with raspberry shakes, sandcastles, and turquoise blue water…it’s a year-round recreation mecca boasting opportunities for any outdoor enthusiast!

Spanning the border of Utah and Idaho, this freshwater lake is 20 miles long, eight miles wide, and 208 feet deep. With its central location, the Bear Lake valley is a convenient spot to get to—roughly a two-hour drive from Salt Lake City or just under an hour from Logan.

Ski It to Believe It

If cross-country skiing is your jam, the mountains surrounding Bear Lake provide miles of stunning alpine views and trails to explore. Beaver Bottoms and Sink Hollow, located below Beaver Mountain Ski Resort, offer groomed classic and skate cross-country tracks along with flat and gently sloped scenic trails. Snowshoers also enjoy getting back into nature on these routes. For updated trail grooming information, visit Garden City’s golf course also invites nordic skiers to skate ski on its nine-hole course during snowy months.

Ride the Sinks

About 10 minutes west of Bear Lake, there’s a wide-open bowl known as the “Sinks.” The large indentation in the earth created by a natural sinkhole is the best spot in all of Cache Valley for sledding, snow tubing, and playing in the snow. Bundle up and bring an extra thermos of hot cocoa…it’s also been labeled as the coldest place in Utah.

Gone Fishing

When the lake freezes over (which happens four out of five years), anglers come from miles around to try their luck catching cutthroat, lake trout, rainbow trout, and most notably, the Bonneville Cisco. This species of fish cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The January spawning run of the Bonneville Cisco draws fishing enthusiasts who dip nets to capture the small swift fish.

If spending time on the ice is not your cup of tea, local fishing ponds give easy access for anglers of any size and ability who wish to drop a line. Garden City Pond, located in the heart of the Rich County town, is stocked with rainbow trout and cutthroat. The Montpelier Rearing Pond is tucked into a scenic high desert canyon at 6,500 feet in the hills east of Montpelier, Idaho and is stocked with rainbow trout.

Bear Lake Monster Plunge

Take the Plunge

Now imagine combining these activities into one monster-sized event…welcome to the Bear Lake Monster Winterfest! Named after the legendary creature that is rumored to be lurking in the lake, the 11th annual family-friendly winter event is held on January 24-26, 2020 and features the Monster Plunge, Cisco Disco, chili cookoff, winter sports demos, expos, and more.

The weekend kicks off with a winter sports demo complete with fat-tire biking, snowshoeing, and tubing at the Logan Canyon Sinks area. That evening, FREE ice skating, hot cocoa, games, and karaoke greet guests at the Sunrise Resort and Event Center.

Bundle up for the next day’s cool adventures. On Saturday, January 25, anglers wade waist-deep in the icy Cisco Beach water or fish through the ice to dip net for the Bonneville Cisco. The Monster Cisco Tournament follows, where entrants vie for the BIGGEST little Cisco fish.

Go jump in the lake…literally. The event’s most anticipated activity is the Bear Lake Monster Plunge, held in the Bear Lake State Park Marina. The plunge is designed to raise funds for the Common Ground Outdoor Adventures organization based in Logan, Utah, where they provide life-enhancing outdoor recreational opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities. What would it take to make you jump in a frozen lake? $30, a costume (which is highly encouraged), and a vat of hot cocoa sounds about right. Plus, you get a really cool hoodie and bragging rights that shows you braved the cold for a great cause. Get the full scoop at
Now that I’ve filled you in on my little secret, go ahead and share it: Bear Lake should be on your winter fun bucket list.


About Author

Julia Partain, a Salt Lake City native, is a freelance writer and editor for local and regional publications, including Snowbird's annual Bird Magazine and Salt Lake City's Downtown Alliance Magazine. When she isn’t writing about happenings in her hometown, you can find her hiking in the Cottonwood Canyons or trying to keep up with her two daughters and husband at a local ski resort.

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