Beartown’s defining feature is its unique rock formations, including deep crevices, huge boulders and overhanging cliffs, which are accessed via a boardwalk. According to locals, bears used the rocks as winter dens, inspiring the parks name. The rock formations in the park are sandstone, which is easily eroded, and water continues to slowly reshape the rocks there, with changes visible in the pitted rock faces. Cool temperatures and thin topsoil give rise to vegetation that is different from much of the surrounding area, with fewer trees and more ferns, moss, and lichen. Snow and ice can persist in the crevices until mid-summer, and families used to go get ice from Beartown in the summer months.
In the 1960s, a local movement began to add Beartown to the state park system. The state did not immediately have the funds to put into the project, so initially the Nature Conservancy purchased the land, with the understanding that it would act as a temporary caretaker. In 1970 Beartown was officially purchased by the state and made into a park. Some of the funds were donated by Edwin G. Polan, a former member of the Division of Natural Resources advisory commission who wanted his gift to be a memorial for his son Ronald, a former state park student employee who lost his life in Vietnam. There is still a memorial marker in the park. Although the state did add a parking area, boardwalk and restrooms, for the most part Beartown’s 110 acres have been left unimproved.
Despite having no overnight facilities, Beartown State Park still contributes to the local economy, with an economic significance of $759,430 in 2015.