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Bear Lake Idaho: 3 surprising facts you never knew

Photo: Adobe Stock

This article about surprising facts about Bear Lake, Idaho is sponsored by the Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Bear Lake is a well-known recreational spot for Utah and Idaho locals. From the annual raspberry festival to camping, beach houses, and real sandy beaches, there are many things to do at Bear Lake, for both locals and visitors alike.

But even if you’re a local, there are things about this iconic spot you may never have heard before.

1. Butch Cassidy: still wanted, dead or alive

Bear Lake State Park - Butch Cassidy

Photo: Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Did you know Butch Cassidy once robbed the Montpelier bank in Bear Lake County, Idaho?

Well, the residents have never forgotten. Wanted posters can be found all over Bear Lake Valley, featuring Cassidy’s image and reading, “$4,000… Dead or Alive.” You can even take one home as a souvenir!

Visitors can check out the Butch Cassidy museum and ruminate over what happened to the classic criminal. Did he die in a shootout in Bolivia? Did he return to the U.S. to live out his days in secret and wealth?

We may never know.

2. Photography and stargazing at Bear Lake is unparalleled

Bear Lake State Park - Milky Way Photography

Photo: Adobe Stock

Bear Lake, Idaho is a hot spot for photography. It’s no wonder why; the lake has the ideal night sky for capturing images of the Milky Way.

One Bear Lake photographer posted his photograph of the Milky Way on Reddit, adding that he took the photograph with a Nikon D7000 and a 10.5mm/ 2.8 fisheye lens.

A fellow Redditor wrote, “If you look closely, you can see the stars make tiny trails.”

As a result of the ideal night sky, there are many Instagram-worthy scenes around Bear Lake, as well.

3. You can explore mysterious caves near Bear Lake, Idaho

Bear Lake State Park - Minnetonka Cave

Photo: Ivana Cajina via Unsplash

Many visitors of Bear Lake don’t realize there’s a spectacular, 9-room cave just miles from the Idaho border, full of 10-foot-tall stalagmites. The cave is around 40 degrees year-round and is accessible June through Labor Day, making it a great way to escape the summer heat.

According to The Bear Laker, the Minnetonka cave used to rest beneath the tropical sea that once covered Utah and the surrounding area.

The ancient cave has been around for roughly 340 million years, though it wasn’t officially discovered until 1907 when an unsuspecting Edward Arnell found the cave by mistake while grouse hunting.

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