Devils Lake, Baraboo WI - Sustainable Camping, Hiking, Kayaking
***** Great park to visit
My family spent three nights camping at Devil's Lake State Park. The park is beautiful with so much to do. Hiking, climbing, swimming, kayaking, or just enjoying nature. There are many concession areas, so you always have an opportunity to purchase anything forgotten. We stayed at the Ice Age campground, and though it was furthest from the lake, it was much more shaded and spread out than the other campsites. Check out the nature center and the junior naturalist activities for kids to do. The only thing I'd recommend is going during the week. The weekends are crazy busy! We will return to this park. - Ben, Voorhies, Iowa
***** Popular for a reason!
Devil's Lake is such a great place--beautiful, an awesome lake, and opportunity for lots of fun. Really, it's nature at its best, and if you're in the mood to explore. We parked at the South Entrance this time and hiked up the Balanced Rock/East Bluff Trail to Devil's Doorway--a trip that is a bit challenging physically, but worth it. Beautiful views--almost a bird's eye view, quite literally--as there were hawks soaring just slightly above us. So beautiful! It's a busy trail with lots of big rocks to sit on if you need a rest, and you'll find adventurers of all ages and abilities on it. Hands down, this is my favorite WI state park thus far, as I'm on a mission to visit as many as I can in the next year. - Farmer Jill, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
**** Arrive early to avoid the crowds
We got up early and drove to Devil's Lake for a morning hike. You've really got to get up and moving early if you want to avoid the crowds of visitors. We reached the park just before 8:00 this morning, so we had quite the choice of parking stalls. From the north shore, we hiked up the West Bluff Trail and over to the south shore. It had rained earlier this morning, so we took our time as the rocks were quite slippery in places. From the south shore, we went up Balanced Rock Trail. I've been to Devil's Lake a number of times over the years, and I always prefer to go up Balanced Rock Trail rather than down because it's so steep. It's quite the work out!! Then we took the East Bluff Trail back to the north shore. Took us about 3 1/2 hours, but we didn't push ourselves. We stopped and took in the beautiful views along the way. Shocked to see all the vehicles and people upon getting to the end of the trail. So glad we got up early!
We stopped in the chalet upon returning to the north shore. It appears some changes have been made inside the chalet. They still have the concession, but there appears to be much more in regards to shopping. Great deal on some of the sweatshirts today!
One of the questions posed asks if this is a good rainy day activity. That all depends and the person and how well prepared you are and/or how ornery you'll get if you get a little wet or if your hair gets rained on. To me, the only concern with rain is slippery rocks and lightning. Otherwise, bring it on!!
The other question asked about handicap accessibility. The trails we were on today are not handicap accessible. It's interesting, as I actually thought of that as we were hiking today. It would be really nice if one of the bluff trails could be accessible, because the views are beautiful. The chalet is handicap accessible. They have a really nice ramp going up to the entrance.
All in all, I love this park, and I feel so fortunate that we have such a beautiful park within 20 minutes from our home. - Double Farms, Wisconsin
***** Best State Park in Wisconsin!
This is my favorite state park in Wisconsin and it is also one of the most popular. It offers great camping, swimming, excellent hiking, boating, a nature center, restaurant / concessions, fishing, and a nice camping store. If you plan on camping here the Northern Light Campground has the nicer sites. The hike with the balanced rock is the most rewarding but most difficult in my option and can be challenging with young children. This park offers the closest thing you will get to hikes with nice elevation in Wisconsin. If you are a nature lover and live in Wisconsin Devil's lake is a must. - Derek, Saint Charles, Illinois
*** Poor Reservation System
We are charged an additional $10 to make reservations through ReserveAmerica. I finally found an open site in a time frame we could work with. After make the reservation, I realized we could take an additional day off work, so I wanted to extend our reservation by ONE DAY. The site was open, but I could not extend our reservation. I attempted to book a new reservation, but was not allowed to make a reservation for ONE day. I attempted to talk with someone on-line and "no one was available". I sent an e-mail. Did not receive a response. I called the park directly. I was transferred to ReserveAmerica. I was told the only way to extend our reservation was to (1) cancel our existing reservation and pay a cancellation fee ($10 to make an online reservation and $5 to cancel, then another $10 to re-book the reservation). What??!? An additional $15 (now $25 total) for a SERVICE ?!?!? Orrrrrrrrr, I could ask to extend our reservation when we arrived at the park. Ummmmmm, anybody who has stayed at Devil's Lake KNOWS no site is open for long. Surely there has to be a better way!? - M Beilders, German Valley
***** A quick weekend getaway....
Only 3 hours away from Chicago and such beautiful scenic views. My wife and I absolutely love Devils Lake State Park. Not sure how so many people head over to Wisconsin Dells without ever visiting Devil's Lake. It is only about 20-30 minutes and in my opinion anyone in this area should pass by. The main reason we were there was to be outdoors, we love nature. The hikes there are great, they offer such superb views and the trails are so well maintained and not too difficult to hike. After a long day of hiking, be sure to head over to the sand/main lake area. Relax in the sun, go for a swim or rent a canoe/kayak and go into the lake. Love it here, cant wait to go back! - Besbo Farms, Chicago Suburbs
***** We all loved it! One of the best state parks ever!
Where do we start; there is so much to write about here. This place was awesome. We started the day with the East Bluff hike. We had 3 kids, age 12, 10, 9. They all did the hike to Devil's Doorway and back easily. It can be strenuous for some. The beginning from the North parking lot is difficult for about 1//4 mile as it's mostly up. The path has nice stone steps built into the trail, with a paved trail almost the whole way about 3 feet wide. It's nice to walk up with good traction. Bring plenty of water, more than you think you need. Wear shoes; flip flops or sandals are not safe and not great for hiking. It's mostly shaded the entire way with a few spots of sun. The overlooks and rock outcroppings were awesome and with great views of the lake and the surrounding hills. It's pretty safe for most able bodied people Take some time to walk out for some great pictures. Balanced rock was a little disappointing. It's a fairly strenuous hike back up after walking about 300 feet down from the trail to get a distant view of balanced rock. It's worth it if you can stand the walk back up to the trail It's about 15-20 minute roundtrip. The hike to Devil's Doorway was short and not strenuous. It is a little tricky to walk out to get to the Doorway. I wouldn't recommend it except for an experience and steady climber. The walk back to the north lot is pretty quick as you don't stop as much. Very nice scenery in the forest. The total round trip was about 2 miles from the north parking lot to the devils doorway and back, and took about 3 hours for a leisure trip with lots of pictures on the way up.
We then spent the afternoon on the north beach. We chose a Monday to avoid some crowds. It was busy, but not crowded. The beach is very nice; clean with a lot of space. It has some picnic tables and grilling spots just off the beach. you can wade out about 100 yards before it gets above 5 feet deep. The bottom is clean and sandy. Great for floats and playing catch in the water. Building sandcastles was fun and easy.
The café at the north end is awesome. A good menu(burgers, wraps, and ice cream). All very good. They serve 3-4 beers on tap. The gift shop is quite large. The seating area is also quite large and good for large crowds. You may have to wait a while to get food if it's busy. But bring your own and plenty of picnic spots.
The boat rentals were also good. We rented the pontoon paddle boat. It was great for the kids to paddle out to the deep parts and dive off the pontoon into the water. It's a slow ride, but good for 4-5 with kids. I wouldn't say there is a lot to see when boating. The rocky shore on the west side was cool to see. There is a large rock you can dive off about half way across the lake on the west side. dive at your own risk.
The views from the beach of the surrounding hills were awesome. You can spend all day here doing different activities. They have plenty of parking for private boats and a close landing. Bring your own canoe or kayak.
We used the national park 4th grader pass to get in for free, otherwise there is a daily fee of $11 I think. - Water Lilly Farms, Lake Mills, Wisconsin
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