About the Refuge

Tundra Swans

Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge lies in the mountain-ringed Bear Lake Valley in southeastern Idaho. Getting here... 


Bear Lake refuge was established in 1968 to protect and manage habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. Located seven miles south of Montpelier, the refuge encompasses 18,000 acres of cattail marsh, open water, and flooded meadows that are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge provides valuable habitat for waterfowl and colonial nesting water birds. Portions of the refuge include scattered grasslands and brush-covered mountain slopes.  

Dingle Marsh

Along with Bear Lake proper, Dingle Marsh was part of a larger prehistoric lake that once filled the valley, and has now receded to less than 17,000 acres.

Thomas Fork

The Refuge also manages the 1,015-acre Thomas Fork Unit, located 20 miles to the east of the Refuge on the Idaho/Wyoming border. The Unit's eastern boundary is the Wyoming State line. The Unit provides breeding habitat for greater sandhill cranes and high quality stream habitat for Bonneville cutthroat trout.