Our car swerved, braked hard and barely missed the merging car along the two-lane Logan Canyon road. Up to that point, everything seemed to conspire against us in getting to Bear Lake. A major oil spill caused the I-80 east road closure in Park City. Traffic was at a stand still. We pressed on, taking an alternate route through Logan and hit rush hour traffic in North Salt Lake. When we finally made it to Logan Canyon, we ran into a herd of cows and nearly hit a car. After all our encounters, I felt like it would’ve just been easier to stay home.
Recently, we have spent too many long hours at home and at the office. We needed a family break – time to think about one another, and time to play. Cheryl Strayed in her book “Wild” said women connect with themselves when they participate in outdoor activities. I knew this was true for me and as we drove through the canyon I immediate felt my tense muscles relax, my stressed mind focused and a calm settled over my soul. I knew we would enjoy our time together as a family at the lake.
We always look for the lake as we come out of the canyon and whoever sees the familiar blue water gets bragging rights. We call the lake the “Caribbean of the Rockies” because it’s intensely turquoise. It’s one of our favorite destinations, it’s close, relatively inexpensive and we can be as lazy or active as we’d like. The simple pleasure of sitting on the beach, reading, making sand castles and waterways, rowing rafts, laughing and throwing one another into the water, is ideal for unwinding and reconnecting as a family. During the more active times, we hike the Limber Pine Trail or Fish Haven Canyon, visit Minnetonka Cave, drive through the Wildlife Refuge, tour the Oregon-California Trail living history museum, golf, rent a ski boat or jet skis.
If you have little explorers, Minnetonka Cave is a blast. It’s the largest limestone cave in Idaho and dates back 320 million years. We’ve been on many guided tours walking 2000 feet into the cave, passing through nine rooms with stalactites, stalagmites, and banded travertine. Although temperatures may be in the 80’s, and 90’s outside, the cave remains a cool 40 degrees, so if you decide to go remember to bring a sweater or light jacket. It’s a great way to get out of the summer heat.
The National Wildlife Refuge is a leisurely drive through marsh, open water, and grasslands. Whether you’re a birder or not, this is a good place to see the nesting places for waterfowl such as Mallards and Sandhill Cranes. The twins wanted to catch them and eat them, but we kept them from disturbing the birds and gave them cameras instead.
Any history buff would find the Oregon-California Trail Center’s “living History: dramatic representation of the pioneers journey from Missouri to Clover Creek interesting. The center is actually located on the Clover Creek encampment site and offers visitors the chance to experience pioneer life. The twins love the simulated wagon ride.
On the more recreational side, there are two golf courses with spectacular views of the Bear Lake are located on scenic hillsides by Garden City, Utah and Fish Haven, Idaho. I prefer Fish Haven because it is less expensive but most importantly for us it’s less crowded – ideal when our children golf with us because it more about steering the cart than golfing for them. There are also places to rent motor boats, jet skis and sail boats. We rent because we don’t water ski enough to make owning a boat worth it. Renting is just right.
One of the biggest events held in Bear Lake each year is Raspberry Days. If you are one who loves raspberries and festivals, this is one you can’t miss. Every year, the first weekend in August, the town and tourists from across the U.S. celebrate the raspberry crop harvest. You can find yourself in the raspberry patch at a bed and breakfast picking sweet berries and participating in the three-day festival complete with parade, rodeo, 5K run, Pancake Breakfast, dances, and fireworks on the beach. Whether you attend this event or not, there are Bear Lake Raspberry shakes in abundance all summer long.
This recent Bear Lake trip made me recommit to being an active mom. I realized I am a happier more productive parent when I spend time outside with my family. I know getting outdoors is not always easy or perfect – there will always, figuratively speaking, be oil spills, traffic, cows, or near accidents, but those events just make for more memorable stories for the family to retell in the years to come.
Things to do in Bear Lake:
• Raspberry Days
• National Wildlife Refuge
• Mormon Pioneer Tabernacle in Paris
• Oregon-California Trail living history museum in Montpelier,
• Bear Lake Raspberry shakes
• Road Biking
• Pickleville Playhouse
• Rent boat and skis
• Rent jet skis
• Sailing (one of best places to sail)
• Rent Family bike
• Hike Limber Pine Trail
• Minnetonka Cave Explore