Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge


(208) 847-1757

Map Directions

Things To Do


Bear Lake Refuge lies in the mountain-ringed Bear Lake Valley in southeastern Idaho, north of the deep body of water that is the namesake of both the valley and the refuge. The refuge encompasses approximately 18,000 acres of the Dingle Swamp, a mosaic of bulrush cattail marsh, open water, and flooded meadows. Portions of the refuge include scattered grasslands and brush-covered slopes. The habitats on the refuge are managed primarily for waterfowl and water bird production. The refuge's White-Faced Ibis colony of 5,000 birds is one of the largest in the West. Trumpeter swans are beginning to nest and use the refuge; in May, Canada geese hatch by the hundreds, ducks and cranes follow shortly thereafter. All can be viewed throughout the refuge. The refuge also includes the 1,015-acre Thomas Fork Unit near the Wyoming border and Oxford Slough Waterfowl Production Area near Oxford, Idaho.

Map of Bear Lake NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 42.009509, -111.406860



  • Boating

    Boating is permitted only in those areas shown as open to boating on the map in this brochure. Motorized and non-motorized boats may be used, check with park for more details.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Use of any motorized vehicles and bicycles is permitted only on the roads and trails shown on the map in this brochure. You may park at any road's edge in a manner that does not obstruct traffic or in designated parking areas. Refuge roads may be snowed in December to mid-March.

  • Fishing

    Fishing opportunities are available. However, the refuge is not noted for its game fisheries. Fishing is more popular in the nearby mountain streams and adjacent Bear Lake.

  • Hiking

    Hiking is permitted on all roads open to vehicle travel. General hiking is permitted in areas of the refuge marked on the map as seasonally open. Horseback riding is allowed only on roads and trails shown on the brochure map.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is permitted, please check in with park for specifics. All hunters must carry a valid State hunting license and all required State and Federal stamps, validations and permits.

  • Wildlife Watching

    The refuge provides excellent opportunities to view wildlife. Visitors may drive the public roads that encircle the refuge, or use the roads and trails at the north end of the refuge. The Salt Meadow Unit Wildlife Observation Route is open to vehicle and foot travel year-round, although it may be impassable in the winter.

  • Winter Sports

    Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing is permitted July 1 - January 20 in areas of the refuge marked on the map as seasonally open.


Refuge roads may be snowed in December to mid-March.



The office is in Montpelier, Idaho. To get there, travel east on Webster Street, off Route 30. Turn south off Route 89 onto a gravel road approximately half way between Montpelier and Ovid. This turnoff is marked. Continue south for about 5 miles until you reach the refuge boundary.

Phone Numbers


(208) 847-1757