With that joyful Spring feeling in the air everyone is starting to come out of their hiding spots and feel the fresh air. Going to be almost 50 degrees today during February in Wisconsin we will take it and put global warming in the back of our minds just for today and soak up some vitamin D, let me tell you we really need it. Cabin fever has struck our house with a fierceness. That being said Spring brings on the camping season, my most giddy time of year!! Everyone should be thinking RESERVATIONS especially if you are thinking about visiting one of the most gorgeous parks in the state, Devil’s Lake State Park. Especially with this whole Instagram craze parks everywhere are filling faster than normal. We got extremely lucky with out reservations they just had a cancellation and I was the next phone call. If I wasn’t we would had to take our chances with their few walk-up sites because they were booked every weekend for the summer. Jason now works every weekend so we get more lucky during the week with most places. NOW is the time to start planning people. Book your spots and have something to look forward to!!
Devils Lake State Park is located in Baraboo, Wisconsin and is the state’s most visited state park. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was gorgeous! With a 360 acre lake, 500 foot bluffs and some of the best hiking with amazing views no wonder its visited by thousands each year. This was Jason and I’s very first camping trip together where the I love you’s started, Phoenix’s first hike when he was just a few months old, so it will always hold special to us.
Even with over 400 campsites it still fills up pretty quickly, especially the weekends. I would start reserving now. Reservations are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and ReserveAmerica.com is the way to go. There is a fee for using their services but is the only way to reserve a spot. You can make a reservation up to 11 months ahead of time. There are only 10 walk in sites and if your not there bright and early chances of getting a site are pretty much slim to none especially Thursday-Sunday. So I wouldn’t rely on that if your determined to stay here.
There are 3 different Campgrounds- Northern Lights, Ice Age and Quartzite. All campsites have picnic table, gravel/paved area for parking and fire ring. No sites are along lake. Water is available in all campgrounds including group sites.
Quartzite Campground- Closest campground to lake with a .33 mile walk. Mostly open and grassy, most RV’s end up here because of the spacious sites. Has a dump/fill station and a playground. Only 1 sight is accessible. Both electric and non-electric sites. 1 shower/flush building and 4 pit style bathrooms.
Northern Lights Campground – Second closest to the lake with about a half mile walk. This is the one we stayed at and loved our campsite. Has grassy and wooded sites along with both electric and non-electric sites. 2 sites are accessible. 4 shower/flush buildings and 1 pit style bathroom. Also a playground.
Ice Age Campground- Furthest from the lake with a 1 mile walk and has 2 different sections. Lower section is mostly grassy openness and other sections is mostly wooded. All sites here are non-electric. There is a concession store in the lower campground. 3 sites are accessible. There is 1 shower/flush building per section but 7 pit style bathrooms.
Group Campsites- 9 group campsites that can hold up 240 campers altogether. They are rustic and have not been cleared of trees or shrubs. Half mile walk to lake. There is one shower/flush building and 2 pit style bathrooms.
Bonus there are 2 Teepees you can reserve!! They book up very, very fast but be warned as you can tell in the picture they are not weather proof. There is room for a tent on site and obviously non-electric.
FIREWOOD- Ground dead wood can be gathered for fires otherwise firewood is available for purchase at camp store from 7am – 10:30 pm, also at the North Shore Chateau during business hours.
Trash – Pack it in/Pack it out. Campsites, buildings and day use areas do not have trash cans. There are a few dumpsters in the campgrounds and select day use areas along with bins for recyclable items. Be on the safe side and bring bags expecting to pack out your trash.
Now on the best part of this park their Recreation!!
Hiking- 29 miles of stunning hiking trails, easy strolls on paved pathway along the lakeshore to rocky uphill trails up to the bluffs. 1.5 miles of trail here are accessible. There is a hike for all fitness levels here. If you get to the top of bluffs trust me you will not be disappointed. Make sure to pay attention to trail signs, yes they can get confusing with several trail symbols on one pole. Jason and I actually got lost here and ended up hiking for over 8 hours until we found a road and ended up walking the highway back to campground. First time I have ever been lost and it was not fun with a herd of mosquitos, a few beers and a couple apples to hold us over. Ever since then I have been prepared for everything and anything. Pets are allowed on trails but must be on leash.
With this being one of our favorite destinations for hiking we have done several different trails while here. A lot of them are short spurs once you get the top of bluffs that lead you to natural wonders such as Devil’s Doorway and Balanced Rock, but all are seriously worth hiking. Ice Age Trail makes up quite of bit of them also. When walking along the lakeshore you are between a “rock wall” and lake. It still amazes me every time we go. If your going to be daring and boulder across this rock wall remember there are lots of loose rocks, people are normally below you and critters like to hide among them.
Bicycling- 5 miles of off road bike trails. Bikers must use caution and remember hikers have the right of way. No official paved bike trails but many people to enjoy riding around the park.
Rock Climbing- First place I have ever been rock climbing also way back in the day with a girl scouts group. This is strictly a DO AT YOUR OWN RISK activity. Park does issue permits nor does it prohibit or promote rock climbing here. Every year there are accidents, injuries and even some deaths. There are private businesses in the local area that offer classes.
Boating, Canoeing and Kayaking- This lake is perfect for it all. 2 no fee boat landings. Only electric motors are allowed. Boats and canoes can be rented along with a specially adapted Kayak for people with disabilities. How awesome is that? All state laws apply. We brought our own canoe and spent an entire day canoeing around the entire lake and fishing.
Fishing- License required for 16 and up and all state fishing laws apply here. They even offer basic fishing equipment to be checked out free of charge. Devils Lake is good for brown trout, northern, bass and panfish.
Swimming- 2 beaches here North Shore and South Shore totaling a impressive 3,300 feet of shore. Both have bathhouses and NO LIFEGUARDS. SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK. One weird thing we discovered that we never knew existed is Swimmer’s Itch. It is reported every year here and there are even signs posted at each beach explaining it. There is higher risk for it at certain points during the summer. They say showering down immediately after getting out of water can help with it.
Scuba Diving- Very popular sport here. Diving flags are required and as always you should never dive alone.
Winter activities include- Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. There are no groomed trails, park does not rent or loan skis but they do have free snowshoes available at nature center on a first come basis.
Nature center hosts many a variety of programs throughout the summer also. Check it out especially if you have very curious nature explorers on your hands who can participate in the Wisconsin Explorer program, discover the natural world. Pick up a booklet which are filled with hands-on, educational activities. Complete at least half of activities and return it to any state park, forest or recreation area and receive a patch. What kid doesn’t like accumulating patches?!
Devil’s Lake State Park is by far one of our favorites yet and it could be yours too. Make sure to make reservations ahead of time and bring your hiking shoes.
Thanks for your interest.
Thank you everybody.