Bear Lake Hotels
The nearest town with hotels is Montpelier
, Idaho, 15 miles from the north shore of the lake.
The west side of Bear Lake is bordered by US 89 through St Charles and Fish Haven to Garden City, then UT 30 further south to Laketown at the south edge of the lake - these four towns, although small, provide all necessary visitor services. Most of the land is developed, and houses line much of the roadside except for a few publicly-accessible areas, which include Bear Lake State Park Marina
just north of Garden City, a straight stretch of UT 30 in the southwest, and Rendezvous Beach
in the south, also part of the state park. The majority of the shore is wide, grassy mud flats, not as nice as the narrower east side beaches.
North and East Shoreline
Although the west side highway (US 89 and UT 30) is busier and better quality, the east side road crosses emptier land with frequent lake access, and is a more scenic drive. The route is paved all the way, and signposted from both ends; it starts in the north at St Charles, heading due east across grassy marshland, part of Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge
that extends several miles northwards. The first lake access is at North Beach
, one of the two units of the Idaho state park, where $5 is paid for day use parking. The beach is wide and flat, a mixture of sand and mud, with a few picnic tables along the shore and a short road/pier leading out towards the water, beside the lake's exit channel. The road then turns south through privately-owned land for several miles, past quite a few houses, many large and elegant, enjoying elevated views over the lake to the mountains beyond. Development stops at the edge of the East Beach section of the state park, a 2 mile long enclosure with a campground, picnic areas and nicer beaches, all extending as far as the Utah border, after which are various other campgrounds and boat launch sites as the road runs along the water's edge for ten miles, over uninhabited land. Some areas are part of the Utah state park and require a fee, but other places are free to enter, though here camping is not allowed; the nearest locations for free primitive camping are along several unpaved tracks leading eastwards into the hills. All beaches hereabouts are clean, rocky or sandy, and narrow since the land slopes down steeply, unlike the wide flats along the north, west and south edges - this is because the east edge of the lake covers an active fault zone, where the land is slowly subsiding, and the water is over 200 feet deep quite close to the shore. The lakeside remains undeveloped until the south end, where houses reappear and all the land is private, apart from the state park headquarters and campground at Rendezvous Beach, though this is quite far from the water and not very scenic.