Recently the folks at OhRanger.com posted their, “Top 10 Parks of the Midwest“. Here in Wisconsin they selected Bong State Park. Bong?!! Well, Bong is a great park and all but…
How could they overlook Devil’s Lake State Park? It is after all Wisconsin’s most popular state park with over 1.6 million visitors last year alone. Don’t they know about the amazing 500 foot bluffs or the 360 acre lake? Has no one told them about the great campsites, or the amazing rock formations? How could that be?
Well, we learned the folks at OhRanger.com had never actually been to Devil’s Lake State Park and we can almost forgive them… Well, almost. So to make sure Devil’s Lake is not overlooked again and encourage everyone to visit if they haven’t already, we decided to post our “Top 10 Reasons to visit Devil’s Lake State Park”. If you’re a fan or a park regular please take time to comment and share your favorite things about Devil’s Lake as well.
So here we go!
1. The Name
Hey it’s got “Devil” in the name and that’s totally cooler than “Bong” or “Tallgrass”. Even the original name, “Spirit Lake” is cool. What’s more the park superintendent’s name is Steve, which is the same name as that guy in the movie, “Night of the Blood Beast” which Mystery Science Theater totally ran with. . . . and since it’s getting close to Halloween. . .
2. The Campgrounds
Devil’s Lake State Park has like a million campsites (well, 407 campsites actually)! There is a site for every type of camper from big open electric spots for humongous RVs to nice wooded hide-a-ways for tents campers. The sites are a big enough to give you some space, they’re clean and usually close to restrooms and showers as well. The only downside is that camping at Devil’s Lake is so popular that the 353 campsites that are reservable are already booked for most big summer weekends by the end of January!
3. The Hiking Trails
The hiking trails at Devil’s Lake are amazing. The park has over 29 miles of trails including something for every skill level including 1.5 miles of paved accessible trail suited for people with disabilities. The views from the top of the east and west bluffs are simply amazing! The basin trails are bird watcher bliss. What’s more, even if you could cover all the trails in the park, there are miles of additional hiking trails and natural areas just minutes from the main park boundaries in almost every direction.
4. The Paddling
No gas motors allowed on Devil’s Lake. Paddlers are free to play without fear of boat wakes or crazy jet skis. At Just over a mile long and a half mile wide, the lake itself is the perfect day paddling destination and rarely gets wavy enough to chase anyone off the lake. Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and paddle-boat rentals are available from concessions.
5. Mountain Biking
The Uplands Trail Loop is just under 4 miles long and is generally a medium grade trail. That said, the verticals will just kick your butt. The trail begins in a marshy basin then climbs a few hundred feet to the top of the Baraboo hills covering every type of terrain imaginable along the way. You will ride on grass and gravel in the lowlands then have to thread your way through the tree roots and rock-strewn uplands before taking a fast and often rough ride back down. While only about a 35 minute ride, the uplands will get your attention, add a bit of rain and it’s downright scary!
6. The Beaches
Both the north and south shore of Devil’s Lake have insanely popular sandy beaches which is both a blessing and a curse. While you’ll love the sun drenched, warm soft sand and crystal clear water, you’ll also struggle to find parking on summer weekends. And we didn’t forget Fido, pet lovers have 2 nice beach areas available to them as well.
7. The Rock Climbing
Devil’s Lake State Park is famous for some of the best rock climbing and bouldering in the Midwest with over 1600 listed climb routes. The views from some of these routes are simply stunning. In fact climbing at the park has been popular for so long that first edition copies of “Climber’s Guide to Devils Lake” by Sven Olof Swartling & Peter Mayer have become a bit of a collectors item.
9. The Fall Colors
We had to add this one since it’s now September. Fall colors in Wisconsin are amazing everywhere, and Devil’s Lake is something special. Within the walls of the high bluffs you will be surrounded with the reds and yellows of autumn from the Baraboo valley floor to the very tops of the forested hills. Hikers who reach the tops of the bluffs will look out upon miles and miles of colorful forest stretching out into the horizons in all directions.
10. The Scenery
The bottom line is that Devil’s Lake State Park and and the Baraboo Hills are something unique in the Midwest. Within the park 500 foot quartzite bluffs covered in forests, talus fields and amazing rock formations overlook a deep blue 360 acre lake. The view from almost anywhere within the park is simply breathtaking. Enhanced by racing clouds and soaring black turkey vultures along every cliff, the views can even get a bit dizzying. You simply can’t overstate the majestic views within Devil’s Lake State Park.
Now that’s just a few reasons to visit Devil’s Lake and I didn’t even get to the effigy mounds, or the diverse wildlife, or the ski trails, or the summer big band dances and everything else that makes Devil’s Lake State Park amazing. Of course, talking with you about Devil’s Lake is something we do every day here at Skillet Creek and if we know if we missed something, you’ll tell us!
- Yelp! – Devil’s Lake State Park Reviews
- Devil’s Lake State Park @ Trails.com.. Did they say “Bamboo, Wisconsin??”
- Devil’s Lake State Park – Wisconsin DNR Official Website
Ok now, what was that about leaf peeping Top 10 list?