Devil’s Lake State Park | Baraboo, Wisconsin

Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo Celebrates it’s Centennial!

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Devil's Lake Wisconsin State Park

Devil’s Lake State Park was founded in 1911 around the shores of a beautiful 360-acre South-central Wisconsin lake.

Devil’s Lake is supplied solely by local drainage and springs, having no natural drainage outlet. The depth of the lake is about 45-48 feet at it’s maximum. The quartzite rock formations surrounding the lake are famous worldwide and over a million visitors a year visit Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

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Devil's Lake North Shore Beach

Why is it called Devil’s Lake?

The original Native American translation was Spirit Lake, Holy Lake, Mystery Lake or Sacred Lake. But the Winnebago name “Ta-wa-cun-chuk-dah” was translated into it’s more sensational name “Devil’s Lake” due in part to it’s contribution to increased publicity and tourism to the area. In the mid-1800′s the railroad and tourism-related businesses sought publicity for this travel destination and competitive newspaper editors were eager to help out. Reporters wrote about the many legends of the lake and even created some sensationalized stories of their own in order to attract more visitors.

An 1850 map, one of the earliest known, referred to it as “Lake of the Hills.” A few years later a geological survey map called it “Devil’s Lake” and ten years later it was named “Spirit Lake.” By 1872 the name was changed back to “Devil’s Lake” and a Green County newspaper reported, “Had the lake been christened by any other name, it would not have attracted so many people…”

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Devil's Lake South Shore Picnic Area

Devil’s Lake Fast Facts:

  • Devil’s Lake State Park was founded in 1911
  • The Ringling Brothers, circus celebrities, owned a summer home, ice house, and garage with chauffeur quarters on the lake shore.
  • An 85 foot tall lookout tower was built on the west bluff of the lake.
  • Ulysses S. Grant visited Devil’s Lake
  • Abraham Lincoln’s wife toured the park.
  • Devil’s Lake had its own post office, train station and jail.
  • devils-lake-baraboo-wi-trainThere was a vineyard and winery at the south shore.
  • Today, Devil’s Lake State Park hosts over one million visitors a year.
  • The first people at the lake date back more than 10,000 years. (clear evidence shows prehistoric people using the shelters at Natural Bridge state Park and the Durst rock shelter.
  • Mound Builders of 1000 years ago left behind effigy, linear and conical mounds.

Location: Devil’s Lake State Park, S5975 Park Road, Baraboo, WI 53913 (608) 356-8301 (For location map see bottom of page)

Website: www.wiparks.net (Visit website for more history about Devil’s Lake and to make camping reservations)

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Devil’s Lake Bird-Man Mound Plaque

Ancient Mound Builders at Devil’s Lake in Baraboo, Wisconsin

There are many mysteries about Devil’s Lake and some of the most fascinating surround the ancient mounds there. Some people believe a group of Native Americans, called the Effigy Mound Builders were responsible for these formations.

These “Mound Builders” were active in the region around one thousand years ago. Their are three types of mounds: those that take the form of different animals, those that look like ridges; the “true” effigy mounds, and the round or conical type.

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Ancient Bird Mound at Devil's Lake

What’s amazing is the amount of earth that had to be moved without the use of shovels or wheelbarrows are certainly without the help of modern construction equipment. Some of the mounds were used for burials since skeletons were found there and some may have been used for special ceremonies. But, we may never know for sure since no one today has any direct knowledge of the Mound Builders and this period of pre-history.

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Bear Mound at Devil's Lake Wisconsin

Three animal mound are still in good shape and are marked with plaques in the park. One looks like a lynx and is located near the Nature Center. Another looks like a bear and is near the north shore and a bird mound can be seen at the southeastern corner of Devil’s Lake.

Though the legends and mysteries surrounding Devil’s Lake have contributed to it’s fame the main reason this Wisconsin State Park attracts so many visitors is it’s natural beauty and wildlife. Camping, hiking, swimming, kayaking and bird watching are just a few of the popular outdoor activities at Devil’s Lake State Park.

Devil’s Lake State Park Visitor Information

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Devil's Lake State Park Visitor's Center

Admission: All vehicles parked inside the park boundary must have a admission sticker attached to the inside of the windshield on the driver’s side before parking.

Daily rates: $7 (residents) $10 (non-residents) $3 (seniors) : $25 (resident) $35 (non-resident), One hour: $5

Park Hours: 6:00am – 11:00pm daily. (Only registered campers at or in route to their campsites are allowed in the park after 11pm.)

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North Shore Chateau at Devil's Lake

Camping Rates: Nightly $15 (residents) $17 (non-residents). Electrical sites are an extra $5 per night. There is a group tent campground at the south end of Devil’s Head State Park.

Note: Shower facilities are open seasonally in the campgrounds and at the Red Oak Shelter on the south shore of the lake. There are no laundry facilities.

Pets: Dogs and other pets are allowed in the campgrounds, on roads and trails, and in other park areas not developed for use. They are Not allowed in beach, picnic areas, playgrounds or in park buildings. Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet and owners are responsible for picking up after their pets.

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Camping at Devil's Lake State Park

Camping Reservations: Site-specific reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance by either visiting wiparks.net or calling 1-888-947-2757. Payment can be made by major credit card or check (upon request). The reservation fee is $10 per site. Note: Reservations can no longer be made at individual Wisconsin State Parks and must be made through the new centralized reservation system.

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Devil's Lake Park Picnic Shelter

Picnic Shelters: There are three open air and two enclosed shelters available for rental. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. Costs are $45 – $100 per day. Call 608-356-8301 for an application. Seating capacity is from 40-100 people. All have water available nearby and a few electrical outlets. Shelters are closed from November 1 to April 15th. Bands, DJ’s, amplified music, overnight use and pets are not allowed.

Picnic Facilities: There are three designated picnic areas at Devil’s Lake State Park. Two are located at the North Shore and one on the South Shore. There are tables, grills and water available.

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Kayak & Canoe Rentals at Devil's Lake

Boating: There are boat launching ramps at both ends of Devil’s Lake. Only electric motors are allowed. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent. (Life preservers are required for all boats, including rubber rafts)

Fishing: Devil’s Lake contains brown trout, walleye, northern pike, bass and panfish. A fishing license is required for anyone 16 years of age or older. A trout stamp is required for trout fishing. The Nature Center has a limited supply of fishing tackle that you can borrow.

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A Picnic at the Beach is Great Family Fun!

Swimming: Beaches and bathhouses are located at both the north and south ends of Devil’s Lake. There are NO lifegaurds on duty, so watch your children and swim with a buddy.

Biking: Bicycles are allowed on the Upland Trail Loop and the connector trail between Steinke Basin and the North Shore Picnic area. Trails open to bikers are posted. A bike trail pass is not required to ride on these trails. Bicyclists must use caution and give hikers right-of-way.

Rock Climbing: Rock climbing at Devil’s Lake is at your own risk. The park is not maintained for this and loose rocks may be encountered.

Scuba diving: Diving flags are required and all divers should follow safe established diving practices. Never dive  alone!

devils lake baraboo wi winterWinter activities: Devil’s Lake freezes over for about three months in the winter. (Usually Jan – March) When ice fishing be aware of ice conditions at all times. The park staff does not monitor the safety of the ice.

If you enjoy cross country skiing there are 6 miles of trails in the park that can be used for this favorite outdoor recreation. A map of the trails is available at the park’s offices. Also, the hill near the nature center is very popular for sledding.

Snowshoeing is another favorite activity enjoyed by many outdoor enthusiasts. You may snowshoe anywhere but on the cross country ski trails. Snowshoes are available for loan from the nature center. (the park does not rent skis)

devils-lake-baraboo-sledding-hillNature Center: The Nature Center is located at the north shore entrance road. The center is open daily in the summer and has natural and human history displays the whole family will enjoy. There are lots of activities and family-friendly programs held throughout the warmer months as well. They are educational as well as entertaining and fun for everyone!

The schedule of nature programs can be found in the park newspaper or on the bulletin boards throughout Devil’s Lake State Park. Or you can call 608-356-8301 ext. 140

Note: For families there are Forestry Packs available for check-out at the Nature Center. The backpack is full of fun things your family can use to explore the forest areas at Devil’s Lake State Park. Books, games, activities, magnifiers, measurement tools, collection boxes and a bird call are all included in the pack.

Facilities for the Disabled: Devil’s Lake has buildings that are accessible to visitors who use wheelchairs. All campground toilet buildings have special shower/toilet facilities for the disabled. Paved pathways in the picnic areas and the south shore sidewalk and boardwalk offer smooth surfaces for visitors with disabilities. Other trails are also accessible. Check with the park staff or at the visitor stations for more information.

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