What to do in Devil's Lake State Park

Located on 9,000 acres of land skirting the shoreline of 360-acre Devil's Lake, this Wisconsin Dell's state park is one of the most popular within the Wisconsin State Park System. Known for its picturesque scenery, the park was sculpted by glaciers and today is interpreted through park staff for the visitor's enjoyment. The park's name remains shrouded in mystery with several intriguing theories ranging from battling water spirits to giant meteors to a love triangle. Impressive rock formations towering 500 feet above shimmering waters has been the park's recreational backdrop since 1911. The park is a unit of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve. Devil's Lake also has a segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

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 mountain 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.

Many anglers come to the lake for shore or boat fishing spring through fall and through the ice in winter. Electric motors only. The lake is home to brown trout, walleye and northern pike, bass, and pan fish. 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 unguarded beaches totaling 3,300 feet in length, each with a bathhouse. 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 remaining first-come, first-served. Showers, flush toilets, and dumping stations are provided. Six group campsites can accommodate a total of 180 campers. Firewood is sold at the Ice Age Campground, the Chateau, and the South Shore Concession. Camping reservations are available online or by calling a toll-free reservation number. Contact information is listed below.

In winter, families often bring sleds, toboggans, or inner tubes to enjoy the sledding hill that starts at the parking lot near the nature center (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 ungroomed trails. A portion of the family campground is open for use all year. 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 unplowed campsites are available 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.

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 AM to 8 PM. 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.

For more park information including summer weekend dances, nature center programs, and park brochures call the park office at 608-356-8301. As a unit of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve including a segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, a Federal Golden Eagle, Golden Age, Golden Access Passports, or a Wisconsin State Park vehicle sticker is honored.

Recreation
Outdoor enjoyment at Devil's Lake State Park is found in the form of swimming, fishing, non-motorized boating, canoeing, scuba diving, hiking, nature center (by appointment during off-season), year-round nature programs, and cross-country skiing.

Location
The 9,117-acre state park is 2 miles south of Baraboo and about 30 miles north of Madison. Located east of Highway 12, it 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.

Climate
Southwest Wisconsin has four distinct seasons with warm summers and long winters. January's average temperature is above 16 degrees F (-9 degrees C). Average July temperature is 85 degrees F (29 degrees C). During summer, temperatures can climb to above 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). The area's average yearly precipitation ranges from 32-34". Annual snowfalls in the Southwest Region can range from 20 - 40". Dressing in layers is a good way to remain comfortable in Wisconsin.

Address
S5975 Park Road
Baraboo, WI 53913-9299

Phone: 608-356-8301

Fax: 608-356-4281

  • Devil's Lake State Park Travel Q&A