Need a place to stay at Utah's Bear Lake? We tried Conestoga Ranch and it was a lot of fun. Here is our family-tested Conestoga Ranch review.
Bear Lake is a family tradition for many in my Northern Utah neighborhood. This beautiful turquoise lake straddles the Utah-Idaho border and is a popular place for boating, beach picnics, fresh raspberry shakes and making family memories.
However, unless you know somebody with a cabin, there are surprisingly few lodging options at Bear Lake.
I paid attention when buzz started to build for Conestoga Ranch – a new luxury camping resort at Bear Lake – and jumped at the chance to try it for ourselves. We found that Conestoga Ranch offers a fun and unique style of lodging that is well-suited for families.
Here is our Conestoga Ranch review, plus tips for making the most of your stay.
What is “Glamping?”
Glamping is a mash-up of the words “glamorous” and “camping.” At glamping resorts like Conestoga Ranch, it means that you can enjoy all the fun of camping without all the work.
Comfortable beds and linens are provided. Your luggage will be delivered to your tent. Private bathrooms with modern plumbing… yes!
Conestoga Ranch even delivers wood, matches and s'mores supplies to your tent, and an attendant will start and maintain your campfire if you'd like.
Camping in Comfort
Conestoga Ranch offers a variety of tent and wagon options, all outfitted with bedding, towels, electricity and beds for up to six people.
Our Conestoga Family Wagon was built for four, with one king bed and two twins – perfect for my family. I was surprised by how much space we had inside our wagon. Sturdy steps made it easy to climb in and out.
Each tent or wagon has a picnic table, a set of high-quality Adirondack chairs and either a private or group fire pit. We brought our own hot dogs and s'mores supplies for a fun camp fire dinner. You can also purchase these items in the on-site General Store.
All parking was located at the Main Lodge at the time of our visit. Our luggage was transported to our wagon by golf cart.
Related: Tips for Visiting Bear Lake
Grand Tents have private, en-suite bathrooms. Traditional Tents and Conestoga Family Wagons do not have their own bathrooms, but have access to the spa-quality bathhouse.
Unlike most shared camping bathrooms, the Conestoga Ranch bathhouse has bathroom suites. You have your own shower, toilet and sink in a private room, behind a locked door. You don't have to get dressed in a cramped stall or brush your teeth at a row of old sinks with a group of strangers.
Some wagons and tents are much closer to the bathhouse than others. Our wagon was just steps from the bathhouse, and we were happy about that. If proximity to a bathroom is a high priority, be sure to book a Grand Tent or request a wagon close to the bathhouse.
Amenities at Conestoga Ranch include restrooms with showers, playground, game tent and restaurant. On summer weekends, Conestoga Ranch may host special events for guests.
The game tent was a favorite spot for our kids. Inside, we found a video game, basketball toss and air hockey – all coin operated – and a table that would be perfect for an evening board game. Outside, ping pong and corn hole are set up.
We could smell the delicious aromas coming from the Campfire Grill all evening, and we even stopped by to look at the menu. This open air restaurant serves wood-fired pizza, steaks, salads and has a kids' menu with the usual favorites. It is large enough to accommodate large groups. We saw a family group of 30 being served. I also spotted a small sports bar on the other side of the restaurant.
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Conestoga Ranch has complimentary Wifi and good reception for most mobile phone networks. However, we were having so much fun outside that we didn't bother to put it to the test.
We found electric lighting and outlets in our wagon. At that time, the electrical outlets were the same type as the old cigarette-lighter style in our car. However, they may have been updated since.
What to Pack
You could visit Conestoga Ranch with little more than pajamas and a toothbrush, since Conestoga provides a lot of what you need and has a restaurant and general store for everything else.
Pack what you would if you were staying at a hotel. You don't need any bedding or camping gear.
Be sure to include a jacket or hoodie since you'll be spending more time outside at night. It was unseasonably cool on the July night we were there.
I recommend a pair of sturdy shoes for outdoor activities at Conestoga Ranch and Bear Lake. You will probably want a pair of slip-on shoes if you will be walking to the bathhouse.
We brought our own campfire sticks and food and noticed that other families did the same.
Bring quarters for the game tent and laundry room. You may also want to bring your own laundry detergent if you expect to need it. However, the general store can help with change and detergent too.
Related: Utah's Best State Parks
If you enjoy getting to know new people, Conestoga Ranch is a friendly place. We shared a big fire pit with four other families, all of whom had boys around the same age as my 8-year-old son. They were on a first name basis within the first hour and spent most of the evening and morning in an ongoing game they made up on the playground.
In the meantime, I chatted with their parents around the campfire. One family in our wagon circle was visiting Conestoga Ranch for the second time that month. They had stayed in one of the tents and liked it so much that they recruited another family and booked wagons together a few weeks later. We also met two sisters from different states who were meeting at Bear Lake with their kids.
The wagon circles with shared campfires are a fun set-up for a multi-family trip or family reunion.
Visit www.conestogaranch.com to learn more and to book tents and wagons. You can also book your Conestoga Ranch stay through Get Away Today Vacations. Get Away Today is Utah's trusted travel agency for family vacations, and they offer excellent customer service.
Click the button below to learn more at GetAwayToday.com.
My 11-year-old daughter was especially excited to sleep in a covered wagon, sit around the camp fire toasting marshmallows and visit the game tent. Not once did she ask for the Wifi password.
At the end of our stay, she announced that Conestoga Ranch was everything she hoped it would be. Our whole family agrees that it was the highlight of our trip to Bear Lake.
Disclosure: We received complimentary lodging at Conestoga Ranch for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own.