GARDEN CITY – Bear Lake continues to grow in popularity as a summer hotspot for vacations and recreation. This year COVID brought more attention to the rural lake towns.
Visitors headed to Bear Lake State Park this year might notice improvements to several locations along the shorelines of the popular vacation destination.
One of the biggest improvements is at the State Marina near Garden City. The state invested $5.3 million adding a 1,500-feet of frontage to get the boats off Highway 89, making it easier to launch boats, said Richard Droesbeke the park manager.
“The work began on Feb. 15, building the new access to the marina and we hope to have it done before Memorial Day,” Droesbeke said. “Currently, we could queue eight to nine boats. When we get the road finished, we could queue as many as 38 boats.”
He said getting vehicles off the highway became a safety issue.
LeGrand Johnson Construction of Hyrum is the contractor on the project, working hard to make the May 29-31 deadline.
The worldwide pandemic brought more people to the lake to hunker down and try and live out the virus.
“Last year, the lake was really crazy for us; we had as many people during the week as we do on the weekends,” Droesbeke said. “We saw a big increase, the most I’ve seen in 14 years as manager.”
He said they are seeing more and more weekdays of being at full capacity.
“They just keep coming,’” the park ranger said. “We used to see a lot of visitors just on the weekends and now we are seeing them on weekdays as well.”
There could be as 500 to 600 boats a day on the waters. The park service’s two patrol boats are ready to serve the 109 square miles of water when needed.
“We have four launch sites besides the Marina at Garden City,” he said, “Rendezvous Beach, First Point (located at the southeast part of the lake), Cisco Beach and Rainbow Cove.”
When all the launch sites are operational, they can launch 800 to 900 boats a day.
“There are four new restrooms in four locations along the beach,” Droesbeke said. “There will be two at day-use beach locations and one in Cottonwood and Big Creek campgrounds.”
There is lot of asphalt work at Rendezvous Beach with the hope having it done before Memorial Day weekend, as well.
The North Eden Campground is a primitive spot on the east side of the lake near Laketown. It has been cleaned up and crews have restored the beach, added a sidewalk and a retaining wall.
“We also put in road-base gravel, added toilets and are hoping to get more money for power and sewer developments in the area when we get the money,” he said. “Getting potable water to that area will finish it off.”
Another major building project visitors may notice is the new strip mall being built just southeast of the Marina at Garden City on Bear Lake Blvd. The building will house longtime grocer Mikes Market and Ace Hardware, with a new Zions Bank branch.
There are ATMs around Garden City, but Zions Bank is the first financial institution to take hold in the town of some 500 residents. The tentative opening date is May 20. The bank will offer a full range of banking services, according to a company spokesman.