According to Richard Droesbeke, park manager of Utah’s Bear Lake State Parks, a couple of Utah state legislators recently asked how to make more beach on Bear Lake. They were told the beaches on Bear Lake are finite. They can’t be made larger; they can only be improved.
Utah’s Bear Lake State Parks currently has three projects ongoing to improve parks on the Utah side of Bear Lake totaling millions of dollars.
In Utah, the State Parks agency is self sufficient. In other words, they cover their own expenses. If they turn a profit, the money goes into a savings account. If that money builds up, the agency can request funding from the State Legislature.
Two years ago, the agency set aside $2 million to start a restoration project on the east side of Bear Lake at the North Eden Campground. This included a constructing a retaining wall and a five-foot sidewalk. They are now moving into the next phase where they are establishing a paved parking area and erecting three ADA shade shelters on the beach above the high water mark. They are hoping to be able to install eight more shelters as time goes by.
At one point, North Eden had 11 campsites. The new North Eden campground will have 32 campsites with a camp post site and group sites.
This project has cost the agency approximately $2 million so far.
The agency will be asking for another $3 million in the next legislative session to install an asphalt road and campsite pull-through as well as power and water hookups, an RV dump station, and a septic system at North Eden.
Droesbeke says the project at North Eden will significantly improve the beach for day use. He says that is where they have seen the most growth. Because of improvements and a general clean-up there, he feels North Eden will attract a whole new crowd from those who go to North Beach and the parking lot will be full.
At the Rendezvous Beach project, they have replaced the four oldest restrooms and will be doing asphalt work there late this spring. About $2 million will be spent on this project.
The Utah Department of Transportation has a large $5 million project coming up in late February at the Bear Lake State Park Marina. The state agency will improve the entrance to the park, calling it a frontage road. It will become a two-way entrance into the Marina that will allow them to queue 38-39 trucks and boat trailers at a time without them being backed up on the highway. This is in contrast to the eight to nine they can queue at this time.
Between the three projects, Droesbeke feels the beaches and campgrounds on the Utah side of Bear Lake have been and will be greatly improved. He is very positive about the work that has been done, especially at North Eden, and he thinks visitors will really enjoy what they see and experience there.
Idaho Parks and Recreation is also planning improvements on Bear Lake.
According to Kirk Rich, manager of Idaho’s Bear Lake State Parks, the agency is applying for two grants for site improvements to campgrounds and beaches on the Idaho side.
The first grant is for electrical hookup upgrades for 20 different sites around the lake. The second grant is for water system upgrades of 48 units on East Beach.
Work has also begun on two new parking lots that will accommodate 300 cars on East Beach. However, the lots still need fencing and asphalt. Rich estimates project completion is still a year away.
Rich says they have received more usage on the beaches in the last few years with 35 percent more usage on North Beach in 2020. He feels these improvements will definitely help that situation
Rich also noted the water and electrical upgrades at one of the older campgrounds will allow the modern camper to have a better hookup due to higher amperage.
He says there are other projects on the drawing board awaiting funding.