Clear, turquoise-blue water. White sand beaches. Scuba diving, fishing, and wind surfing. Would you guess you’re in Utah? I wouldn’t! In fact, until I saw Bear Lake’s Rendezvous Beach for myself, I assumed the state park was exaggerating with its claim to be the ‘Caribbean of the Rockies’. But it’s no lie: right on the Utah-Idaho border near the touristy town of Garden City, weekend visitors (and weary travelers) will find a veritable paradise laid before them.
Rendezvous Beach is located at the south end of the lake near the aptly named town of Laketown. There you’ll find plenty of beach space, picnic areas, boat ramps, and facilities such as bathrooms and showers. Before reaching Laketown on Highway 30, however, other lake access is available, and visitors can be found parking along the side of the highway and enjoying day use along the shore from Garden City. We joined them, hoping to avoid the largest congestion. I’m not sure we succeeded: it was a busy summer day, and the beaches were crowded throughout the lake, but we enjoyed our location. With plenty of white sand, a wide eddy of water for young kids to play in, and shallow water well into the lake, it was a very safe and fun space for families. Note: bring an umbrella or other shelter; the one thing Bear Lake lacks is much natural shade!
We stopped at Bear Lake only long enough to take a swim and enjoy a picnic, but if you have more time to spend, many outdoor recreation opportunities abound. Rent water sport equipment, hire a fishing guide, or learn about area hikes from this list of Utah guides and outfitters.
Distance from the interstate: On Utah Hwy 30, right off well-traveled Highway 89. (Bear in mind that in the summer months, traffic can back up at Garden City, making for a slow final few miles to the beaches.)
Date last visited: July 2010
Admission fee: To visit Rendezvous Beach proper, you’ll be entering state park property, and an $8 per car admission will be enforced for day use. Other beach access along Highway 30 is free. (The $8 may be money well-spent for the use of facilities, however; there were no bathrooms along the shore elsewhere.
Hours: 8 am until 10 pm year-round.
Food services: Garden City offers plenty in the way of fast food, grocery stores, and small cafes and food stands. We suggest packing a picnic or BBQing on the beach!
Directions: From I-15, take Highway 30 (89) south to Garden City. From