skip to the main content area of this page
Idaho Birding Trail LogoMale Sage GrouseMountain Bluebird
Southeast Region

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Nearest Town: Montpelier
Site Size: 18,000 acres

Highlights: Raptors, Shorebirds, Songbirds, Upland Birds, Waterbirds, Waterfowl

Access: Seasonal hunting closure. Open sunrise - sunset. Access free of charge.

Site Location

Directions: From Montpelier, take US 89 SW 3.3 mi; stop at USFSW office (at 322 N 4th St; co-located with the U.S. Forest Service in the Oregon Trail Center) for a map and bird list; L (S) at Bear Lake NWR sign (Airport Rd); zero odometer; continue S at airport turn-off; mi 4.9 is the refuge entrance; maps available at mi 5.1; continue S following the sign for the Observation Route (a square loop ~0.5 mi on each side); respect seasonal closures; return to refuge entrance and re-zero odometer; R (E) on Paris-Dingle Rd 5.2 mi to Dingle; R (S) on Dingle Rd 13.1 mi; R (W) on N Beach Rd; entrance to Bear Lake State Park is at mi 15 (entrance fee to park); continue W to mi 20 to reach US 89; R (N) to Paris and Montpelier.

Description: Along Airport Rd, look for Snowy and Cattle Egrets, White-faced Ibis, Cinnamon Teal, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, and Willet. American Bittern, Virginia Rail, Sora, and Short-eared Owl might be seen on the east side of the road just past the refuge’s entrance. Forster’s and Black Terns, Marsh Wren, Eared Grebe, White-faced Ibis, Short-eared Owls, and Trumpeter Swan can be seen along the loop. On the east side, listen for Sage Thrasher and Brewer’s and Sage Sparrows. Near the cliffs, you might catch a glimpse of Turkey Vulture, Golden Eagle, and Peregrine and Prairie Falcons. The north beach of the state park hosts Caspian Tern. Lifton Pumping station has Cliff and Bank Swallows.

More Information:
USFW (208) 847-1757
Bear Lake Chamber of Commerce (208) 847-0067

Bear Lake
Photo Copyright Colleen Moulton, IDFG
Bear Lake
Photo Copyright Colleen Moulton, IDFG
White-faced Ibis chick
Photo Copyright Colleen Moulton, IDFG
American Bittern
Photo Copyright Tom Munson

General Services:
ParkingRestroomsNo PhoneBoardwalkNo CampgroundNo Picnic AreaObservation AreaNo Visitor CenterInterpretive Material AvailableBoat RampNo ConcessionsHiking TrailsHuntingFishingWater SportsOHV/ATVs AllowedNo Horseback Riding

Handicapped Services:
ParkingRestroomsNo PhoneNo CampgroundNo Picnic AreaObservation AreaNo Visitor CenterNo Interpretive MaterialsBoat RampNo ConcessionsHiking Trails
What do these icons mean?

grassland Graph illustrating 6% 6%
marshes/lakes/ponds Graph illustrating 90% 90%
other Graph illustrating 4% 4%

Best Observation Times
Bird Species Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec AM/PM
Raptors Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y ALL
Shorebirds N N N Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N AM
Songbirds N N Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N N AM
Upland Birds N N N N N N N N N N N N
Waterbirds N N N Y Y Y Y N N N N N AM
Waterfowl N N Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N AM
Target Species for this Site

Select a species from the list to view other sites on the Idaho Birding Trail Sites this species may be observed.

    Bittern, Herons and IbisesBlackbirds and alliesChickadees and TitmouseCorvidsCranesGeese, Swans and DucksGrebesGrouse and TurkeyHawks and EaglesJaegers and GullsLarkOwlsPelicans and CormorantPigeons and DovesRails and CootsShorebirdsShrikesSparrows and alliesStarlingStork and VultureSwallowsTernsThrashersThrushesWood WarblersWoodpeckersWrens and Dipper


    R - Resident 1 - Abundant, easily found s - Statewide
    M - Migrant 2 - Common, but sometimes difficult to find e - Southeast
    W - Winter 3 - Uncommon or local w - Southwest
    S - Summer 4 - Rare or very local c - Central
    5 - Casual, 3-10 accepted records p - Panhandle (North)
    6 - Accidental, 1-2 accepted records
    7 - Experimental
    (B) - Documented breeding evidence(End) - Threatened or Endangered
    (b) - Circumstantial breeding evidence(Int.) - Introduced species

    New! Browse the Idaho Birding Trail in Google Maps or Google Earth