Bear Lake County was established January 5, 1875 with its county seat at Paris. Named for Bear Lake, which lies half in Idaho and Half in Utah. In 1863 the first permanent settlement was at Paris, established by forty Mormon families who came in wagons, in ox carts and on foot over very difficult terrain from Cache Valley, Utah.
County Clerk PO Box 190 Paris, ID 83261-0190 Phone: (208) 945-2212 Fax: (208) 945-2780
The Bear Lake valley is a land rich in culture and history ranging from its pioneer ancestry to the influence of the railroad. Oregon/California Trail emigrants rested at the Clover Creek Encampment in present-day Montpelier after descending the difficult Big Hill.
Butch Cassidy and his gang robbed the Bank of Montpelier at 3:13 pm on August 13, 1896 after the 13th deposit in the amount of $13.00, then raced out of town.
The crown jewel is Bear Lake, a large scenic lake often called "The Carribean of the Rockies" for its intense turquoise blue water. As visitors catch their first glimpse of the lake, they marvel at its color and wonder what makes the lake so blue. Sitting on one of its many white, sandy beaches, you can imagine yourself on your own little island. Bear Lake is home to a trophy cutthroat trout fishery where the Idaho State record cutthroat of 19 lbs. was caught. Lake trout (mackinaw) also inhabit the lake and may grow to 30 lbs. Trolling and jigging from boats can be done throughout the year (winter and spring months being the most productive).
There are four endemic fish species in Bear Lake: the Bonneville cisco, the Bonneville whitefish, the Bear Lake whitefish, and the Bear Lake sculpin. The January-February spawning run of the Bonneville cisco draws fishing enthusiast who dip nets to capture the small swift fish.
The National Oregon/California Trail Center is located within the beautiful Bear Lake Valley of Southeastern Idaho and situated on the historic site of the original Oregon Trail. The Trail Center was built to preserve, perpetuate and promote the pioneer history and heritage of the Oregon/California Trail and the Bear Lake Valley. It interprets the story of the pioneers who braved the arduous, six-month, 2,000 mile journey across the unsettled American West from Missouri to the Oregon Territory. The interpretation of this epoch migration is told using live actors within historically accurate interpretive areas located in the center. Vistitors join a simulated wagon train headed west and experience what it was like to prepare for the journey.
Minnetonka Cave is the largest commercially developed limestone rock cave in the state of Idaho, and one of the highest, with an entrance elevation of 7,700 feet.
The developed part of the cave contains nine separate "rooms" or chambers. The largest of these chambers is called the Ballroom, measuring more than 300 feet across and 90 feet high.
Paris Historical Museum: The museum displays local history artifacts and is located directly across the street from the Paris LDS Tabernacle in Paris, Idaho.
Mid-town on west side of U.S. Highway 89, Paris, Idaho • Open: Memorial Day to Labor Day, 9:30 am to 5 pm.