Snow and ice thermodynamics of Bear Lake (Alaska) are investigated with a simple freshwater lake model (FLake) and a more complex snow and ice thermodynamic model (HIGHTSI). A number of sensitivity experiments have been carried out to investigate the influence of snow and ice parameters and of different complexity on the results. Simulation results are compared with observations from the Alaska Lake Ice and Snow Observatory Network. Adaptations of snow thermal and optical properties in FLake can largely improve accuracy of the results. Snow-to-ice transformation is important for HIGHTSI to calculate the total ice mass balance. The seasonal maximum ice depth is simulated in FLake with a bias of -0.04m and in HIGHTSI with no bias. Correlation coefficients between ice depth measurements and simulations are high (0.74 for FLake and 0.9 for HIGHTSI). The snow depth simulation can be improved by taking into account a variable snow density. Correlation coefficients for surface temperature are 0.72 for FLake and 0.81 for HIGHTSI. Overall, HIGHTSI gives slightly more accurate surface temperature than FLake probably due to the consideration of multiple snow and ice layers and the expensive iteration calculation procedure.