Raspberry shakes and turquoise lakes are this town’s claim to fame, and rightly so. The quaint lakeside town of Bear Lake is pulling out all the stops and giving the big cities on the Northern Utah road map a run for their money. As you drive through the valley the vivid blue water sticks out like a sore thumb, sparkling on the horizon. The “Caribbean of the Rockies”, as it is affectionately known, gets its unique colour reflections from limestone deposits and changes ‘moods’ based on the weather.
A favourite with the locals and visitors in the summer, it feels very Hamptons-esque driving down along the lake with blue and white summer homes peppering the shoreline. Whether it’s sailing, kayaking, hiking, fishing or just chilling, this resort town is a summer paradise.
If getting on the water is the first thing you want to do, head to the marina and take your pick of stand-up paddle boards or kayaks. The kayaks come in single or doubles, which depending on how you look at it, could be the perfect time to test your relationship. It’s not as easy as it looks to kayak in tandem.
As the ‘birthplace’ of the raspberry milkshake, you would be doing yourself a displeasure to miss out on trying one. Raspberries thrive here thanks to the warm summer days and cool, crisp nights, which makes them particularly sweet. Precisely how the shakes are made is kept under tight wraps, but it’s safe to say the thick vanilla ice cream and farm fresh raspberries have something significant to do with it. You will find these delicious, creamy shakes pretty much everywhere in town but it’s a competition between the original standing stores. La Beau’s and Quick N Tasty both serve up the famous raspberry shakes, neither conceding to one another as to who invented it and whose is the best. Which means you may just have to fork out a couple of dollars and decide for yourself. If milkshakes aren’t your thing, swing by Chocolate Bear because this is the best place for chocolate covered raspberries as well as a variety of homemade goodies.
After a day of soaking up the sun and sipping on raspberry shakes, pitching a tent and starting a fire is not exactly what you feel like. Lucky for you Conestoga Ranch has got you covered. Glamourous camping or glamping is the experience of camping in the great outdoors without the annoyances or heavy lifting. Conestoga Ranch is trailblazing and attracting visitors from across the country for the Bear Lake glamping experience. So, tell the kids you are camping, the girlfriends you are staying in a luxury lakeside resort and the hubby, well, he doesn’t need to know the details. Everyone will be both happy and pleased. Exciting those who want bathrooms, running hot water and pillow top mattresses – basically, everything you want from a hotel is here, just outside in nature.
Drive up to the ranch on to what looks like the set of a Hollywood old Western to find the Bear Lake glamping ground, resembling nothing like those childhood memories. 19th Century wagons parked in a circle with campfires in the middle cover the front of the property, with teepee style traditional tents and grand tents perched up on the hill. All set among the wildflowers that transform between purple and yellow depending on the time of day.
Stepping into each type of lodging is like stepping into Mary Poppins’ handbag. Space is pulled out of thin air and a luxury home appears, each decorated with one of a kind furniture, rugs, and lamps. Modern community bathrooms are shared between guests who stay in wagons and traditional tents and those wanting their own private facilities can stay in a grand tent with a private bathroom and electricity. There’s nothing like sleeping in the fresh air just like the pioneers did back in the day, that is, if they had a queen-sized bed and air conditioning.
A meal at the Campfire Grill, the resort’s restaurant is almost as important as staying at Conestoga Ranch. Be warned, if you are looking for hot dogs in tin foil from the pit, this is not the place for you. Just as well, given they are doing their thing elevating the camping experience, it only makes sense the restaurant would follow suit. On par with restaurants in Vegas, LA and New York, Campfire Grill will satisfy even the most discerning foodie. Positioned on the south side of the property, the rustic open-air space is perfect for watching the sunset during dinner. In a nod to the raspberry farming history of Bear Lake, the sweet berry is the highlight of many of the menu items; the star of the dish, including the Garden City Salad raspberries, local honey, and a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette. Entrees range from pizza to locally sourced fish and Wagyu beef. Dessert was indulgent with a rich raspberry shake, crème brulee topped with fresh raspberries and a Dutch oven cookie.
After a feast fit for a pioneer going west, sit by the fire to roast s’mores with the kit you will be gifted on your arrival to Conestoga. The Campfire is perfect given the crisp nights you’ll experience during a Bear Lake summer. Quiet time is from 10pm and it’s guaranteed you will have the best nights sleep. There’s only one problem if you stay at Conestoga Ranch: you may never want to camp again.
The Fit Traveller was a guest of Visit Utah for this trip. As always, the opinions, words and images are authentically our own.