If you’re looking for a fun-filled day surrounded by nature, Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge is the place to be. This family-friendly spot, which borders both Idaho and Utah, offers a wide range of outdoor activities perfect for families seeking memorable vacation experiences, corporate groups looking for a picturesque setting for team-building activities, or individuals looking for solo activities like birding and fishing. 

Get ready to enjoy gorgeous landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a plethora of outdoor activities for every season! 

Let’s dive into the ultimate guide on how to spend an unforgettable day at Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Birding Paradise 

A silhouette of a person using binoculars on a tall wooden observation platform, watching a formation of birds flying across a golden sunset sky over a calm body of water, with distant trees and structures on the horizon.

Let’s start with one of the main attractions at Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge—the incredible bird-watching opportunities!

This area is one of the most extensive wetlands along the Rocky Mountains and is an ideal habitat for a wide variety of birds. 

A mecca for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike, this refuge is home to over 200 species of birds. It’s a bird-watchers paradise! The refuge’s prime location along the Pacific Flyway makes it a crucial stopover for white pelicans and other migratory birds, ensuring a constantly changing cast of feathered characters throughout the seasons. 

While many birds leave during the icy winter months, you’ll still be able to spot some winter fowl, like hawks and eagles, who soar overhead the snowy landscape. 

Some Other Birds You May Be Able To Spot Throughout The Year:

  • Bald Eagles
  • Sandhill Cranes
  • Mallards
  • Pintails
  • Teals
  • Avocets
  • Stilts
  • White-faced ibis
  • Blue Herons 
  • Trumpeter Swans
  • White Pelicans
  • And many more! 

Pro tip: If you’re a photography enthusiast, bring a long lens (like a 300mm)—you’ll be able to capture stunning bird portraits and behavior shots.

Hiking and Wildlife Spotting 

If you’re an avid hiker or simply enjoy being surrounded by nature, Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge has got you covered. With miles of refreshing trails and boardwalks, you can choose from short, easy walks or more challenging hikes, depending on your preference.

But that’s not all! As you explore the refuge, look out for the diverse wildlife that calls this place home. From majestic moose grazing on willows and red foxes stalking through the grass to fleet-footed pronghorns darting across the sagebrush, there’s always something exciting to spot.

Don’t forget to bring insect repellent and plenty of water, especially during the summer months. And remember, for the best wildlife viewing experience, do not approach them. No matter how tame they may seem, they are still wild. Please maintain a safe distance at all times. 

Accessible Trail Options

An accessible, wheelchair-friendly trail is open from mid-March to mid-September. It offers stunning views of the wetlands and opportunities for wildlife spotting without the need to traverse less accessible trails.  


Two people in plaid shirts standing in a lush green field; the adult points towards the horizon while the child looks through binoculars. The adult carries a rifle and a backpack, suggesting they are on a hunting trip. Dense trees and a cloudy sky form the background.

For those seeking a more active outdoor adventure, Bear Lake Refuge is also a popular destination for waterfowl hunting. With nearly 40% of the refuge’s 19,000 acres open to hunting and various hunting opportunities available, it’s a true sportsman’s paradise.

However, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the hunting laws, rules, and regulations before heading out. The refuge has specific guidelines and requirements, such as obtaining the necessary permits and following designated hunting areas and seasons.


If you’re a water enthusiast, the crystal-clear waters of Bear Lake offer a variety of aquatic adventures.

From kayaking, boating, and stand-up paddleboarding to fishing and swimming, the lake’s open water offers endless opportunities to create lasting memories with your loved ones.

For those seeking a more leisurely experience, pack a picnic basket and find the perfect spot along the shoreline to soak in the tranquility of the surroundings.

Fishing Tip

The Outlet Canal-A, a channelized portion of the Bear River, is open for fishing and home to brown and cutthroat trout, yellow perch, and carp. Boat fishing is prohibited, but the serene setting provides a peaceful angling experience.

Snowshoeing and Skiing

Three people skiing down a snowy slope on a sunny day, wearing colorful ski outfits and helmets.

As the seasons change, Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge transforms into a winter wonderland, offering a unique array of activities for winter outdoor enthusiasts. 

Strap on your cross-country skis or snowshoes and explore the quiet trails, marveling at the snow-capped peaks and the serene silence of the winter landscape. With designated roads and trails that allow activities during the snowy months, you can explore the wildlife refuge while getting a great workout.

Just remember to dress warmly and bring the appropriate gear. If you’re new to winter sports like cross-country skiing, consider joining a guided tour or renting equipment from the refuge—they often offer rentals at low costs.

Start Planning Your Trip to Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge 

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge offers something for everyone, whether you’re a family seeking a memorable vacation experience or a corporate group looking for a picturesque setting for team-building activities. From bird watching and wildlife spotting to hiking, fishing, and winter sports, this is a must-visit destination.

After a day of exploration and adventure, retreat to the comfort of Bear Lake Premier Cabins, where luxury meets rustic charm. Our cozy accommodations offer the perfect respite, with plush bedding, modern amenities, and stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.

It’s time to pack your sense of adventure and plan an unforgettable trip to Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge. View our luxury cabins now, and let us be your home away from home as you create lasting memories in this breathtaking corner of Utah.