Entry by Glenn Schneider
One of the most spectacular places in the Midwest! 500 foot-high quartzite bluffs! A 360 acre lake! It is the biggest state park in Wisconsin totaling 9,217 acres. It was formed by one of the last ice-sheets of the Wisconsin drift about 12,000 years ago with the surrounding Baraboo hills estimated to be about 1.6 billion years old.
This is not the flat prairie land of the Midwest that you are used to which makes this a special place to hike with over 41 miles of trails, many of which involve a fair bit of ascending and descending the incredible bluffs. Some of the trails were laid by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps.) back in the 1920s with an especially awesome natural “staircase” weaving down about 500 feet through a humongous boulder field.
The rock formations as seen from the top the bluffs (especially the southern bluff) are intricately stacked with the blue gem of the lake as their backdrop. A wide variety of plants and animals are around including the largest contiguous hardwood forest in the Midwest. This Lake Oak Forest is impressive as are the numerous herons seen fishing in the lake.
Campsites & Lodging
The out of town rate of $35 per night ($30 for residents) for a site with electricity, and around $10 for a “day pass” so one can drive around the park totaling about $45 per night. The sites without electric are $25 a night for non-residents and $20 for residents. The campground was spacious with numerous quality sites. They even rent Teepees, $35 for residents and $37 for non-residents a night. There are 407 campsites in the park! However, this is Wisconsin’s most visited park, so reservations in peak season are still suggested. You can register at http://www.reserveamerica.com. Heads up. There is a $9.50 reservation fee if you do book through this link. Finally, as would be expected, there are numerous private campgrounds, lodges, and cheap motels scattered outside the park and into the town of Baraboo.
The north and south shores areas of the lake have food courts, bathrooms, and plenty of pavilion and picnic table space. They also have a playground for kids and 2 beaches. The park has trails ranging from handicapped accessible paved trails to difficult hiking or bouldering trails.
Nearby attractions include Wisconsin Dells (30 minute car ride away), The International Crane Foundation (fighting to protect the world’s cranes), Circus World Museum and Circus (home of the Ringling Brothers), Baraboo Bluff Winery (good views and wine).
,Nearby Train Stations
- About 130 miles away from the State Park is an Amtrak Station in Milwaukee, which makes for one epic trip for any Chicagoan. For the residents of Madison Wisconsin though, a bike camping trip to Devils Lake State Park is only a few hours away at about 44 miles.
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