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Bear Lake's low water levels may limit boat ramp access

An aerial photo of a road and parking area with cars and boats next to a large blue lake.

While recent rains and cool weather have lessened the impacts of drought across Utah, boat launch accessibility at Bear Lake still remains a concern.

Bear Lake water levels have been declining, due to extended drought and water allocation from the lake for crop irrigation. As Bear Lake water levels continue to drop through the summer, the Idaho Bear Lake State Park said in a recent Facebook post that the park may have to close all boat ramps on Idaho’s side of the lake.

Luckily, Richard Droesbeke, the park manager for Utah’s Bear Lake State Park, said the portion of Bear Lake within Utah will still be accessible to boaters, unless the lake drops dramatically.

“For our park, we actually have five launch ramps. The one most people know of is here at the State Marina, on the north end of Garden City. But we've also got one at Rainbow Cove. We have what they call a low water access ramp at Cisco beach, on the east side, as well as First Point. They're all open currently,” Droesbeke said.

With recent rains and cooler weather, less water has been used for irrigation than predicted, and Bear Lake water levels are still doing relatively well.

“Right now the lake’s only dropped about three inches since its peak. We've actually gone about a month or a little bit more than a month … which is a good sign. It means they haven’t taken as much water out,” Droesbeke explained.

However, if water levels do drop over the summer and Idaho boat ramps are closed, Droesbeke said that the Utah park will likely see increased traffic, which is not unusual.

“It will increase our usage a little bit. But on our major weekends, like last year, we were at times at capacity. But it’s kind of our norm for being really busy … right now our top bottleneck is our capacity to launch and retrieve boats,” Droesbeke said.

Up-to-date lake conditions and accessibility information are available at

Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.