This small community, on the east shore of Flathead Lake, was named in 1891 by Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Robbins, early settlers from the vicinity of Creston. They were making a trip by team and wagon from Polson to their home over the rough, undeveloped road on the east shore of the Lake. They stayed overnight in this community which was more or less struggling for its meager existence. Someone had killed a bear that day. As was the custom, the meat became community property. On such occasions, the people gathered together, divided the meat and staged a dance in celebration of the good fortune. The Robbins gave the community the name "Bear Dance."
The Flathead Forest has established a campground near here on the only lakefront property owned by the National Forest. It is called Bear Dance Campground.
A Forest cabin was built on this property in 1909 by C. P. Fickes. It was used as a fireman's cabin until it was removed in 1958. Jim Frye was a fire guard at this cabin for 27 years—probably the longest tenure in the history of the Flathead.
The Bear Dance cabin was sold to the Rocky Bar—O Ranch at Woods Bay. It is used today and is known as the Bear Dance cabin.