Devil's Lake State Park

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Image of Devil's Lake State Park
Image of Devil's Lake State Park. Source: [1]

Devil's Lake State Park is located in Baraboo, Wisconsin and was founded in 1911. Today, the park has many different plant and animal species and welcomes thousands of visitors every year. They offer year-round camping and many different activities throughout the year like swimming, hiking, biking, boating and rock climbing.


Devil's Lake State Park was officially founded in 1911, however, people have visited the lake well before then. In 1866, the first official hotel was opened in the northeastern corner of the lake. The hotel was given the name Minniwauken House, which also happened to be one of the choices when finding a name for the lake. This hotel held twenty guests.

By 1872, a railroad system was built and bypassed the lake. This created a multitude of visitors forcing the hotel owners to expand the hotel. The owners remodeled the hotel and renamed it the Cliff House. This new hotel was able to house almost two-hundred guests in almost fifty rooms.[1]

After the late 1900's with the invention of the automobile, the hotels began to disappear and the age of campgrounds came to be. Today, the park is visited by millions every year, and is a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends.

Animal and Plant Life In Park

Like most State Parks, there is an abundance of wildlife and plantlife that can be seen.

Animal Life

One animal that can be seen is the rattlesnake, most specifically the Timber Rattlesnake. Even though these snakes are rarely sighted, they are usually non-aggressive animals and will normally stay away from areas that are heavily populated by people. They also tend to slither away when they cross paths with hikers.[2]

Turkey Vultures are also commonly seen soaring throughout the skies of the park. The Cherokee Nation took the liberty of giving them the name of "Peace Eagle" because they resemble an eagle in flight and they do not and cannot kill prey. These birds are very experienced flyers and they also have a keen sense of smell which helps them hunt down their food source which mainly consists of dead animals and live small animals. These birds have been given the nicknames "garbage collector" and "recycler" because of their eating habits. Turkey Vultures are also not currently endangered or threatened species.[3]

Black Bears are another common sighting. They have been in the Devil's Lake State Park area since about 2009. These bears can range in different colors but mostly black or brown. Male Black Bears that are typically large can weigh up to about four-hundred pounds and when standing they can reach up to five feet tall. The official Devil's Lake State Park website gives instructions on how to protect your campsite against Black Bears, warns you to take special precautions when hiking, and what to do when one of these bears attacks.[4]

Plant Life

Wild Parsnip and Poison Ivy are the most dangerous plants that should be looked out for if one decides to go hiking along the trails. The Wild Parsnip can most likely be found in very sunny open areas around the Steinke Basin Region. Poison Ivy however will be right along the trails throughout the park in the more wooded areas.[5]

South Bluff and Devil's Nose

In the area of the South Bluff and Devil's Nose, there can be found many different types of trees like the Sugar Maple, the Red and White Oak trees, and Hickory trees as well. This part of the park was established as an official region in 1972. In this area of the park, visitors can partake in many recreational activities such as: Cross Country Skiing, Hiking, Hunting, Trapping, and Fishing.[6]

East Bluff

This section of the park was established in 1993 and also houses many different ecological species. Some plants in this region of the park include, columbine, prairie coreopsis, large-flowered yellow false foxglove, shooting-star, field pussy-toes and prairie alumroot. In the southern region of this bluff there are also many different species of trees. The forests are mainly filled with red and white oak with black cherry like in the Devil's Nose region, big-tooth aspen, red maple, white pine and shagbark hickory. The shores of this bluff also house several species of rare plants.[7]

Devil's Lake Oak Forest

This forest sits on the Cary Glacier of the park and was established to the park in 1953. Like the other regions of the park stated above this area also houses several species of trees. Some of these trees include mostly red oak and red maple. On the forest floor an abundance of plants can be seen throughout the region. Some of these plants include wild sarsaparilla, yellow-honeysuckle, tall milkweed, wild geranium and so many others. This area is also apart of the Baraboo Hills with the historic Wisconsin River flowing through it.[8]


Scientists have believed that the bluffs of Devil's Lake State Park were formed about 1.6 million year ago, making them one of the oldest formations in the continent of North America. These bluffs are apart of the Baraboo Range which surround the Baraboo Valley. These bluffs and rocks are formed with quartzite rock. Quartzite rock is sand that had been so tightly cemented together that they form a rock type substance. Over a billion years, this sand that helped from the rocks was dropped by the rivers when they drained into the seas. When it was being formed into the quartzite rock, it was first formed into sandstone and when subjected to a lot of heat and preassure it formed the quartzite rock that you see today. Today, Devils Lake is a spring fed lake and has a range in depth from forty to fifty feet.[9]

Activities and Recreation

Kayaking at Devils Lake
Kayaking at Devil's Lake. Source: [2]

There are many activities that visitors can participate in while they visit Devil's Lake State Park. There are twenty-nine miles worth of hiking trails throughout the park ranging from all different kinds of terrain. Along with the twenty-nine miles of hiking trails, there is also five miles of biking trails for those who enjoy off-road and more intense biking. There are also paved paths provided for those who would like to enjoy a more laid back experience. Rock climbing is another activity, but it is not provided by the park itself. They caution that one will be climbing and their own discretion and warn that climber may be coming across loose rocks, and only ask that experienced climbers participate in this activity. Most injuries from rock climbing have come from more inexperienced or less qualified climbers taking that risk. Some other activities that the park offers are fishing and ice fishing, skiing, hunting and trapping, snowshoeing in the winter months, swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, and even scuba diving.[10]

Camping is a huge aspect of the park. This park has three campgrounds that accommodate almost any situation, rather its family, one person up to six per site. Over each campground has around 423 sites. It is approved that one can use the parks natural resources for firewood, but there is also some for purchase and the campground's store. Some campgrounds are open year round while others are open seasonally, and reopen during the month of April or May. Each campground is equipped with water, showers, and restrooms to accommodate their visitors.[11]


  1. Lange, Kenneth I., and D. Debra Berndt. "Devils Lake State Park: The History of it's Establishment" Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters 68:149-66. Accessed May 1, 2017.
  2. "Rattlesnakes at Devil’s Lake." Devil's Lake State Park Visitors Guide. January 18, 2017. Accessed May 02, 2017.
  3. "Turkey Vultures." Devil's Lake State Park Visitors Guide. January 26, 2014. Accessed May 02, 2017.
  4. "Black Bear at Devil’s Lake State Park." Devil's Lake State Park Visitors Guide. January 11, 2014. Accessed May 02, 2017.
  5. "Scary Plants?" Devil's Lake State Park Visitors Guide. August 13, 2016. Accessed May 02, 2017.
  6. *"Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources." South Bluff/Devil's Nose State Natural Area - Wisconsin DNR. 2017. Accessed May 02, 2017.
  7. "Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources." East Bluff State Natural Area - Wisconsin DNR. 2017. Accessed May 02, 2017.
  8. "Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources." Devil's Lake Oak Forest State Natural Area - Wisconsin DNR. 2017. Accessed May 02, 2017.
  9. "Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources." Devil's Lake Geology - Wisconsin DNR. 2014. Accessed May 04, 2017.
  10. "Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources." Devil's Lake Recreation - Wisconsin DNR. 2016. Accessed May 04, 2017.
  11. "Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources." Devil's Lake Camping - Wisconsin DNR. 2017. Accessed May 04, 2017.

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