The Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake Monster

In 1868, Joseph C. Rich wrote an article that was published in the Deseret News. It spoke of a strange, serpent-like creature that inhabited the waters of Bear Lake. Though the creature was part of local Indian lore, Rich wrote of recent appearances as a number of white settlers claimed to have seen it with their own eyes. The article then went into detail about who had seen it and what they had seen—a large, fast-swimming, brown animal.

Articles about the Bear Lake Monster continued, documenting sightings in Bear Lake and of sightings in other bodies of water in the Utah Territory. The number of sightings grew to the point where locals began to believe there was an underground tunnel connecting the Great Salt Lake and other waterways to Bear Lake.

With the increased number of sightings, the desire to catch the monster grew. LDS Church president Brigham Young even sent a rope to Paris, Idaho to aid in capturing the monster. When captured, it was hoped that the monster could be exploited for its wondrous proportions in show business.

Interest in the Monster eventually died down, and the phenomenon faded from public memory. Twenty-six years following his articles and allegations, Joseph C. Rich finally admitted that it had all been a hoax. 

Despite Rich’s declaration, sightings continued. But more than anything, the monster has become a part of local folklore.

For years a Bear Lake Monster Boat—a tourist boat-shaped to look like a green lake monster—offered a 45-minute scenic cruise of Bear Lake with folklore storytelling.[Another self-parody that the locals have done is to fill a float in the Garden City, Utah Raspberry Days parade with local children and label it “The Real Bear Lake Monsters.”

The legend of Bear Lake’s Monster is celebrated annually at the Bear Lake Monster Winterfest, a three-day event filled with exciting winter fun!