Devil's Lake – Baraboo, Wisconsin - Atlas Obscura

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Devil's Lake

Devil's Lake State Park

A remnant of the last Ice Age, this lake is surrounded by fascinating rock formations. 


Nestled near the small circus town of Baraboo, Wisconsin is Devil’s Lake State Park, named for the large lake that sits at its center.

Devil’s Lake is located in the middle of a deep chasm, with no visible inlet or outlet. Rather than any religious origins, its name actually comes from a misinterpretation of a term from the Ho-Chunk Nation, the region’s Indigenous inhabitants. The Ho-Chunk term Tawacunchukdah, sometimes spelled Da-wa-kah-char-gra, is more accurately translated as “Sacred Lake.” 

The lake sits between two quartzite-filled mountains that cover hundreds of miles of trails. One notable trail is the Balanced Rock Trail on the East Bluff. The out-and-back trail takes you up a series of panoramic bluffs, past amazing rocks, caves, and deep wooded areas, until you reach the Balanced Rock. Immediately following that is a jaw-dropping rock formation known as the Devil’s Doorway. 

Not a hiker? Not a problem! During the Great Depression in the 1930s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt put crews to work building and renovating state and federal parks. Their work of building steps, rails, pathways and pavilions help patrons and hikers access the entire park.

Devil’s Lake is definitely an uplifting adventure and may help you burn off some of the cheese curds and bratwurst you ate while watching the Green Bay Packers.

Know Before You Go

There's a state park office, parking lots, beach, bathrooms, pavilions, and picnic tables for patron's conveniences.

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