Low water levels could shut down last boat ramp on Bear Lake’s north side

Jul 8, 2022, 11:37 PM

BEAR LAKE, UtahBear Lake is losing up to about a half-inch of water every day. It’s enough that park managers on the north side are concerned they may have to close their last open boat ramp.

“Yeah, lucky enough it was just sand. We didn’t hit anything hard,” Corry Wright said.

Corry Wright

Getting boats in and out of the water is a bit harder than usual for boaters on the Idaho side of Bear Lake. They’re down to one ramp near the park entrance.

“This is the lowest it’s ever been when we’ve been here,” Wright said.

Wright said he missed the sign and the narrow path coming back in and ended up skimming a sand bar that’s now surfacing.

“The ramp itself is plenty deep, but once you get a little further out, it starts sloping back up,” Bear Lake State Park Manager Andrew Stokes said.

Stokes said they’re carefully watching that depth that is now about four feet at that narrow window.

“This being the shallowest end of the lake,” Stokes said. “It doesn’t take much loss in water depth for us to start having that lake bed exposed.”

Bear Lake State Park Manager Andrew Stokes

Stokes said more water is being lost to evaporation from this heatwave, and then there’s the water being pumped out for users downstream.

They can lose up to a foot or more each month, which means by sometime in August, this ramp could close down.

“Once you get out there, it’s beautiful,” Blake Vanroosendaal said.

It’s Vanroosendaal’s first time with a boat at Bear Lake. In addition to the sand bar, he says having only one ramp can get tricky.

“Yesterday, the wind came up. We had fourteen boats that were trying to get off all at the same time, and it was a little hectic,” he said.

Blake Vanroosendaal

There are currently four ramps open on the south side, but if this one closes, it will mean more pressure on those, especially at the marina and Rainbow Cove.

But the low water isn’t all bad.

“Makes it somewhat nice because the beach is very open,” Jared Purcell said.

Though it’s not exactly what boaters are hoping for.

“Gosh it’s sad because it’s such a beautiful place for recreation. I hope that we get some moisture, but everybody’s in the same boat, everybody’s hoping the same thing,” Wright said.

According to state parks in Utah, the marina has plenty of depth to get through the season, though Rainbow Cove could be impacted in a month or so as they’re losing about four inches each week.

Right now, only one boat ramp is closed on the south side, at Rendezvous Beach.

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Low water levels could shut down last boat ramp on Bear Lake’s north side