With Bear Lake beaches reaching capacity, Idaho now takes reservations

May 5, 2022, 8:07 PM | Updated: 9:14 pm

BEAR LAKE, Utah —  Crowds in both Idaho and Utah are working on ways to accommodate big Bear Lake crowds that have grown tremendously in recent years.

Perhaps the biggest and most immediate change are the reservations that are being filled right now online, because even through drought means there will be a lot of beach to fill at the lake this summer, it will still get reach capacity on peak days. Idaho park manager Andrew Stokes is often the person who delivers the bad news.

“We typically, like around 10 o’clock on like a Saturday, we’ll end up closing the beach, just because we’ve hit capacity,” Stokes said.

“I’ll just stand in the road and I’ll turn hundreds and hundreds of vehicles away and it is heartbreaking. When I say it’s one of the hardest parts of the job, that is.”

Pictures of north beach from last summer show just how crowded it can be. It’s why they’re now asking people to make reservations before traveling to the lake. Stokes said it will help with the sometimes miles-long line of cars that can last for hours.

Crowds on the beaches of Bear Lake reach capacity on busy days while hundreds are turned away. (Idaho State Parks)

“This (reservations) just gives the ability to scan a barcode with the pass that they bring with them and gets them through a lot quicker,” Stokes said.

Crowds are growing on the south side of the lake too, but at Utah’s Bear Lake State Park, business will continue as normal, with no reservation system — for now. But there are expansions in the works just to the east at North Eden and Rainbow Cove.

Stokes said an expansion is planned on the Idaho side of the lake too, in years to come. But for now, he said to get online to make sure you have a spot. Visitors can still try their luck especially on busier days, there is a chance you will be turned away.

Thursday through Sunday and holidays are typically the busiest. Reservations are taken up to one day before recreation.

To make a reservation, visit Idaho State Parks website, hit the dropdown menu and look for “day use.”

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With Bear Lake beaches reaching capacity, Idaho now takes reservations