Well guys, I’m officially a Texan! As I left Minnesota for the last time, I took a detour to Baraboo, Wisconsin for a weekend of camping with my friends at Devil’s Lake State Park.
Devil’s Lake State Park is Wisconsin’s most popular state park (about 3 million visitors per year according to their website) so campsites within the state park book up months in advance. Instead, we booked a tent site about a mile down the road at Skillet Creek Campground.
Skillet Creek is a nice alternative to camping in the park but it’s pretty pricey and they have a lot of rules including no cancellations and a 2 night requirement to book in advance. They even charge you extra if you have more than two people in your site. But that said, our site (#212) was really nice and the perfect size for our two tents and cars. My favorite thing about Skillet Creek was that the tent sites are on a completely different side of the campground from the RV sites so you don’t have to listen to their generators or endure their porch lights.
As I mentioned earlier, Devil’s Lake State Park is an extremely popular park and we visited over Labor Day weekend so even though it was a gloomy, overcast day it was still SO crowded. But there’s a reason it’s so popular. The bluffs and rock formations were gorgeous.
According to the Wisconsin DNR’s website: “Situated along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Devil’s Lake State Park offers magnificent views from 500-foot quartzite bluffs overlooking a 360-acre lake. Visitors enjoy nearly 30 miles of hiking trails, lakeshore picnic areas, swimming beaches, paddling opportunities, and year-round naturalist programs.”
We started from the north end of the park and hiked the East Bluff Trail heading south. It’s about 1.7 miles with 500 ft of elevation gained and you get a lot of great views of the lake along the way.
At the south end of East Bluff Trail you run into trails for Balanced Rock, Devil’s Doorway and the Potholes. Every trail was so packed with people that it wasn’t easy getting pictures. If I can give you one piece of advice in this post, it’s to NOT visit Devil’s Lake State Park over Labor Day Weekend, but it was still super fun.
Another thing we learned is that none of the trails are rated for difficulty and they’re really steep in some spots. We found ourselves on the 0.3 mile Pothole trail that is 500 ft straight down on rocky steps. The dog probably had the easiest time thanks to her four legs.
At the south end of the park, we reached the beach and busy picnic area. We also saw two bald eagles scanning the lake for fishy snacks.
On the west side of the lake, there are two trails that can take you back north, West Bluff Trail and Tumbled Rock Trail. West Bluff is just as steep and stair-heavy as the east side but without the lake views so we went the easier route and stayed on Tumbled Rock Trail, which is very flat and hugs the lakeshore.
The next day was also gloomy and cold, so we entertained ourselves by heading into town to visit the local watering holes. We checked out Balanced Rock Winery, AL. Ringling Brewery and Tumbled Rock Brewery& Kitchen. All of which were dog friendly and had live music!
Baraboo is also home to the Circus World Museum because it’s the former headquarters and winter home of the Ringling brothers circus. Al. Ringling Brewery (pictured above) is adjoined to the home of AL. Ringling. Built in 1906. I’m so glad we ventured out of the campground to find this gem!
As Labor Day weekend came to an end, I repacked my car and completed the 15.5 hour drive to Dallas….in one day! I don’t know how I did it, maybe all the wine and beer the day before was actually jet fuel. I’m getting settled in Texas now and I can’t wait to start exploring!