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Devil's Lake State Park - Baraboo Wisconsin

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At Devil’s Lake State Park, 500-foot quartzite bluffs tower above a 360-acre lake. Spectacular scenery, a full range of recreational activities, and a full-time naturalist make this a very popular park.

The 9,117-acre state park is 2 miles south of Baraboo and about 30 miles north of Madison.

More people visit Devil’s Lake State Park annually -- 1.3 million in 2000 -- than any other state park in Wisconsin. Peak visitation is during the late spring, summer and fall, when visitors can swim in or boat on the clear, 360-acre spring fed lake.

The park is a unit of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve. Federal Golden Eagle, Golden Age and Golden Access Passports (exit DNR) as well as Wisconsin state park admission stickers are honored. Devil's Lake also has a segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (exit DNR).

State parks nearby are Mirror Lake (12 miles northwest), Rocky Arbor (19 miles northwest), and Natural Bridge (20 miles west).


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Devil's Lake has 29.9 miles of trails, all of which are open for hiking in spring, summer, and fall. There's a 1-mile interpretive nature trail and 1.5 miles of trail that are accessible for people with disabilities

The park also has 8.0 miles of off-road bike trails. A state trail pass is required for bikers age 16 and older.

In winter, there are 22.4 miles of cross-country ski trails, with four different loops marked for beginner, moderate, or advanced classic-style skiers, along with a section for skate-skiing. The ski trails start in the Steinke Basin meadow, then wind their way through oak, ash, hickory, and maple forests.

Water Recreation

Many anglers come to the lake for fishing--from shores or boats (electric motors only) in spring through fall and through the ice in winter. The lake is home to brown trout, walleye and northern pike, bass, and panfish. A fishing license is required for anyone age 16 or over, and a trout stamp is required for trout fishing.

There is a boat launch at each end of the lake. Boats and canoes may be rented at the park's concession. Life preservers are required for all boats, including rubber rafts.

There are two beaches totaling 3,300 feet in length, each with a bath house. Lifeguards are not provided. SCUBA diving is popular. Diving flags are required.


There are picnic areas at both ends of the lake. Two enclosed shelters and three open air shelters are available for rental. Reservations are accepted starting January 1 each year.


Devil's Lake has three campgrounds with 407 regular campsites, 124 of them with electric hookups. Of the total, 353 are reservable and the rest first-come-first-served. Showers, flush toilets, and dumping stations are provided.

Six group campsites can accommodate a total of 180 campers.

The Ice Age Campground Store, the Chateau, and the South Shore Concession sell souvenirs, firewood, some groceries, ice, camping items, and hot food from the grill.

There are privately owned campgrounds and resorts nearby.

Winter recreation

Families often bring sleds, toboggans, or inner-tubes to enjoy the sledding hill that starts at the parking lot near the Nature Center, which is closed in winter, and ends in the Quartzite campground.

None of the park’s hiking trails are maintained or designated for winter hiking, but for those hardy and adventurous people looking for a winter challenge, hiking is allowed on trails that are not groomed for cross-country skiing. Hikers, snowshoers, or those with dogsleds or pets may explore several miles of trails that are not groomed for skiing.

A portion of the family campground is open for use all year round. Several campsites are plowed, and most have electricity. A winter water tap for filling water jugs is provided in the campground and in the headquarters building. Campers may bring their own firewood or purchase it at the Visitor Center. Some campsites are also available that are unplowed, for people who want to experience the challenge of true snow camping. Campers have built various snow-shelters, windbreaks, or even igloos when the snow is plentiful.

Throughout the winter, the majority of campers are tent campers.


Nearly 100 species of birds, close to half the total in Wisconsin, nest in the park and 880 plant species grow in the park.

Wisconsin's oldest state natural area, Parfrey's Glen, is in the southeast corner of Devil's Lake State Park. It is a special and fragile place with unique plants, animals, and geology. The area is open only from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Visitors must stay on the designated trail. Food, beverages, fires, and camping are prohibited. Motor vehicles are not allowed beyond the parking lot off Highway DL.

Other information

Devil's Lake is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Visitor Center hours are from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily in the summer and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in other seasons.

All parked vehicles must have a valid vehicle admission sticker, and all campers must first register and pay before setting up. These requirements may be taken care of at the Visitor Center or at one of several self-pay stations. Write the park at S 5975 Park Road, Baraboo, WI 53913. Park information may be obtained by calling 608-356-8301.

Devil's Lake State Park is east of State Highway 12 south of Baraboo and can be reached from either Wisconsin Highways 123 or 159. From about April through November, the park can be reached via the Merrimac free ferry and State Highway 113 and County Highway DL.

The park is not maintained for rock climbing; do it at your own risk. Loose rocks may be encountered.

Dances are often held in the historic chateau building along the lake on summer weekend evenings.

Information provided by the Wisconsin DNR website.

Copyright 2000,

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