Bear Lake Fun Facts

Bear Lake was formed some 28 thousand years ago by earthquake activity. At an elevation of 5,923 feet, Bear Lake is 20 miles long and 8 miles wide, 208′ deep, covering 112 square miles.

Why is Bear Lake Blue:

When you crest the mountain summit and catch a first glimpse of the lake, the rich color is the first thing you notice.


“Bear Lake contains abundant suspended microscopic particles of white-colored calcium carbonate (lime) that reflect the water’s natural blue color back to the surface, giving the lake its intense turquoise-blue color,” explains information from the Utah Geological Survey

Indigenous people of the Shoshone, Bannock, and Ute tribes all roamed the Bear Lake area, migrating to the prime hunting and fishing grounds in the warm seasons, and trading with each other and later with fur trappers. American and European trappers first saw Bear Lake in the early 1800s. Donald “Fats” MacKenzie is honored for naming the lake Black Bear’s Lake in 1819, later shortened to Bear Lake.


Bear Lake has a high rate of endemism (native species not naturally found anywhere else). Several species evolved in the lake’s waters, but after the diversion of the Bear River into the lake, many of these have gone extinct. Remaining known endemic species of fish include the Bear Lake strain of the Bonneville Cutthroat Trout, Bonneville Cisco, Bonneville Whitefish, and Bear Lake Sculpin.



Water from the lake is used for irrigation in the nearby Bear Valley in southeast Idaho, and for recreational fishing. The lake drains via the Bear River Outlet, completed in 1915 into the Bear River which eventually flows into the northeast portion of  Great Salt Lake.


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