ST. CHARLES – This year’s Bear Lake water picture is looking bright with March’s Upper Bear Basin receiving 128 percent of average snow water equivalent, according to Bear Lake Watch.

Bear Lake Watch is a nonprofit community organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the lake and surrounding ecosystem.

“In the past two years Utah has received the Snow Water Equivalent of three average years,” the online publication reported. “Also, the entire lower half of the western US sits for the most part well above 100% of average.”

The lake had a very small drop in water level in fall of 2023, so with the good water year so far, better than average soil moisture (103% of average) the lake is in a good starting position for snow melt season, the publication said.

Andy Stokes, the Bear Lake Idaho State Park manager, said this year’s water is going to shrink the beaches all around the lake.

North Beach is one of the more popular public beaches on Bear Lake.

“High water makes the areas around the lake unusable; at the North Beach we will see an attempt for more people to go our way to enjoy the lake,” he said. “It looks like we will be turning more people away. Since we implemented the reservation system those with reservations will be first in line.”

The system has been in effect for two seasons.

“Now, with the high water, we will still hold to a similar number of reservations,” Stokes said. “We have 28 acres on the west side the Rocky Mountain Power gates visitors can use.”

Stokes suggested people should plan a little differently if they want come to the North Shore.

“They should plan on coming to the North Beach on Monday through Thursday,” he said. “Friday, Saturday and Sunday is just crazy out here. That’s when I would bring my family if I were going to Bear Lake.”

The Utah side of the lake is improving a lot of campgrounds and lake access points.

Besides the $60 million the state is spending to revamp and enlarge the Bear Lake Marina with 300 new slips, they are also spending millions to build more campsites and beach at Rainbow Cove.

The 300 new slips at the marina will meet current demand and should add additional capacity for potential growth.

By mid-summer there should be 60 new campsites on the east side of Bear Lake on the Utah side to accommodate visitors.

Tami Leonhardt, Executive Director at Bear Lake Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the lake should be full this year so the beach space is going to be limited.

“Last year there was a canal issue,” she said. “They are fixing a canal so there should no big flooding issues.” 

Leonhardt said Garden City is facing the same housing dilemma as the rest of the state.

“There is a shortage of housing and what there is, is expensive,” she said. “There is a lot of building going on, but what they are building is also expensive.”

Garden City also continues to grow eateries. They have a new Fusion 89 restaurant and a food truck court where people will be able to buy ice cream, churros, hamburgers and variety of other foods.

Bear Lake Fun is also building a big new building to house all of their rentals and equipment.

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