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Bear River (Utah): Wikis


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Bear River
Lake at the head of Bear River, Uinta Mountains, Utah (photo taken 1868-1870).
Country  United States
States Utah, Idaho, Wyoming
 - location Uinta Mountains, Summit County, Utah
 - elevation 13,000 ft (3,962 m) [1]
 - coordinates 40°52′2″N 110°50′9″W / 40.86722°N 110.83583°W / 40.86722; -110.83583 [1]
 - location Great Salt Lake, Box Elder County, Utah
 - elevation 4,211 ft (1,284 m) [1]
 - coordinates 41°27′30″N 112°17′25″W / 41.45833°N 112.29028°W / 41.45833; -112.29028 [1]
Length 500 mi (805 km)
Map of the Bear River watershed.

The Bear River is a river, approximately 350 miles (560 km) long, in southwestern Wyoming, southeastern Idaho, and northern Utah, in the United States. The largest tributary of the Great Salt Lake, it drains a mountainous area and farming valleys east of the lake and southwest of the Snake River Plain.



The course of the river essentially makes a large inverted U around the north end of the Wasatch Range. It rises in northeastern Utah in several short forks on the north side of the high Uinta Mountains in southern Summit County. It flows north cutting across the southwest corner of Wyoming past Evanston then weaving along the Utah-Wyoming state line as it flows north. It turns northwest into Bear Lake County, Idaho and flows through the Bear Lake Valley in Idaho, past Montpelier where it receives the short Bear Lake Outlet Canal that drains Bear Lake, which straddles the Idaho-Utah border. At Soda Springs, near the north end of the Wasatch Range, the Bear River turns abruptly south, flowing past Preston in the broad Cache Valley that extends north from Logan, Utah. It re-enters northern Utah, meandering south past Cornish and Newton. It is impounded to form the Cutler Reservoir, where it receives the Little Bear River from the south. From the west end of Cutler Reservoir it flows south through the Bear River Valley of Utah past Bear River City. It receives the Malad River from the north just before emptying into the mud flats of a broad bay on the east side of the Great Salt Lake, approximately 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Brigham City.

Bear River is believed to have once been a tributary of the Snake River, but that lava flows near Pocatello, Idaho diverted it into what was then Lake Bonneville.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Uses and protected areas

The river is used extensively for irrigation in the farming valleys through which it flows in its lower reaches Idaho and northern Utah.

The lower 10 miles (16 km) of the river near its delta on the Great Salt Lake are protected as part of Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.


In the early 19th century the river valley was inhabited by the Shoshone people. Fur trappers from the Hudson's Bay Company began to penetrate the area, exploring south from the Snake River as early as 1812. In the mid 19th century the Mormon Trail crossed the Bear River south of Evanston and the California and Oregon Trails followed the Bear River north out of Wyoming and to Fort Hall in Idaho. Some of the travelers on the trails chose to stay, populating the Bear River Valleys of Idaho and Utah. The Cache Valley was early destination for Mormon pioneers in the late 1840s. On January 29, 1863 troops of the United States Army attacked a Shoshone winter village in the Cache Valley, slaughtering many of its inhabitants. The incident has come to be known as the Bear River Massacre.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: Bear River
  2. ^ Bright, R.C., 1967, Tebiwa v. 10
  3. ^ Link, P.K.; Kaufman, D.S.; Thackray, G.D., 1999, Field guide to Pleistocene Lakes Thatcher and Bonneville and the Bonneville Flood, southeastern Idaho, in Hughes, S.S.; Thackray, G.D. (editors), Guidebook to the Geology of Eastern Idaho, Idaho Museum of Natural History, p. 251-266
  4. ^ Bright, R.C., 1963, Pleistocene Lakes Thatcher and Bonneville, southeastern Idaho, PhD dissertation, University of Minnesota, 292 pgs.
  5. ^ Bright, R.C.; Rubin, M., 1965, Part H: Lake Bonneville, in Schultz, C.B.; Smith, H.T.U. (editors), INQUA 7th Congress, Guidebook for Field Conference E: Northern and Middle Rocky Mountains, p. 104-112
  6. ^ Bright, R.C., 1960, Geology of the Cleveland area, southeastern Idaho, MS Thesis, University of Utah, 262 pgs.
  7. ^ Bouchard D.P.; Kaufman D.S.; Hochberg, A.; Quade J., 1998, Quaternary history of the Thatcher Basin, Idaho, reconstructed from the 87Sr/86Sr and amino acid composition of lacustrine fossils: Implications for the diversion of the Bear River into the Bonneville Basin, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 141, p. 95-114
  8. ^ Hochberg, A., 1996, Aminostratigraphy of Thatcher Basin, SE Idaho: Reassessment of Pleistocene lakes, MS thesis, Utah State University, 112 pgs.

External links



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