Bear Lake Overlook and Rest Stop
Milepost 492.8 on Logan Canyon Scenic Byway
Road to Adventure:
Some Things Are Hard to Find, But Worth the Search
Bear Lake, the deep natural lake that changes color with the sky, is at the center of Bear Lake Valley. The lake is best known for its intense turquoise color that is evident on a sunny day.
Shoshone and Bannock Indians lived and hunted in the valley. The first whites to see the valley were with the Donald MacKenzie Snake River expedition of 1818-19. Then, beginning in the 1840s, the Oregon Trail cut through the valley, bringing thousands of emigrants through the region. But the only one to settle here in the early years was Thomas L. “Peg Leg” Smith, who ran a cattle business, trading post, and horse exchange near present-day Dingle, Idaho. After the passage of the Homestead Act in 1862, Brigham Young feared that the valley would fall into non-Mormon hands, so he sent a group of people under the leadership of Charles C. Rich to colonize the valley. Between 1863 and 1870, they established several communities, today’s Paris, Idaho, and Garden City (then called Kennedyville), Laketown, Woodruff, and Randolph, Utah.
The valley is known for harsh winters and short growing seasons (Woodruff averages only 57 frost-free days a year), but there is fertile land for the production of livestock. Surrounded by traditional ranching country, the lake is a mecca for recreation. The wetlands on the north end of the lake are a haven for wild birds, the flatlands near the lake host raspberry fields and towns, and the steep mountains on the west are part of Wasatch-Cache National Forest, with its fir-juniper forests, trails, and wildlife.