The uniqueness and absurdity of this Wisconsin park’s name do no justice to the park itself. In fact, Devil's Lake State Park is much more interesting than the name suggests. If it could be known for one thing and one thing only, it would be the long list of wild and unlikely events that have taken place here over the course of many, many years.
Devil's Lake State Park, founded in 1911, is memorable. There are tales of elephants being in the lake, and of a man winning a grease-pole climbing contest for $5 by rubbing sand on his body. Ulysses S. Grant had visited the park before, and so had Abraham Lincoln’s wife. There’s so much unique history to this park, and you can learn all about it when you visit for yourself.
When you bring your RV, you’ll find plenty of recreational activities. There are many miles of trails to hike, and the lake here provides lots of opportunities for boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming, and more. There are a variety of things to do in the wintertime here as well, such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Whenever you decide to visit with your RV, you’ll be guaranteed a great trip here at Devil's Lake State Park.
In the small town of Baraboo, Wisconsin, less than two hours from Milwaukee and the coastline, and 2.5 hours to Green Bay, you’ll find Devil's Lake State Park. If you’re coming from the south, take US-12 to US-136, from the northwest or east, take I-90 or I-94, and from the west take US-12. In the south-central area of the state, you will have no trouble finding your way, but it may take you a while to get here because of all the beautiful scenery and places to stop along the way.
In the campground, there are many one-way roads, so you’ll need to keep this in mind and be careful when driving the RV to your chosen campsite. Other than the one-way roads at the campgrounds, there are no other driving restrictions for RVs. You can also pick up maps here to make navigating the park easier.
It is recommended that you set up your RV at your chosen campsite first before venturing out in the park, as there is not a lot of RV parking available. While there are overflow parking options when the park gets fuller, many of these parking spots are for single, smaller vehicles only.
If you choose to stay at the pet-friendly Ice Age Campground, you’ll need to be aware that there are no electric hookups available. Most campers come to this campground with tents and pop-up campers, but RVs are still welcome. The campground is also divided into two sections—the lower and upper Ice Age. The lower half has 89 sites, and the top half has 134 sites available.
In all, you’ll find two bathroom facilities with running water, toilets, and showers, and you’ll also find seven other toilet buildings with pit toilets. You'll also be close to the Ice Age Store, which offers a variety of supplies. Expect to be surrounded by woods here. You can enjoy the use of a picnic table and a fire ring for cooking at your site. Plus, you can park your tent or pitch your tent on a paved or gravel pad. This campground is open from April until October. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
This pet-friendly campground is open from April until October and has 142 sites available for RV and tent camping. Seventy-one of these sites do have electric hookups for your RV, but the rest do not. So, when picking out a camping spot, be sure to get the one you want, as hookups are hit or miss on the sites. Your site will be located on a gravel or a paved pad with a picnic table and fire ring. You can choose a site on beautiful open grass or under the majestic shade of the forest.
This campground is the oldest one in the park, as it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939. There are four bathroom facilities located here with toilets and showers, and there’s also a dump station nearby. When you stay at the Northern Lights Campground, you’ll be half a mile from the lake and also close to a playground. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
This pet-friendly campground consists of 100 sites. While most of the sites are reservation only, this is the only campground that does have a first-come, first-served option for the first 10 sites. This campground is fairly spacious while also offering shade from trees, which makes it one of the more ideal campgrounds for large RVs. This is also the only campground that stays open year-round. Seventy-five of the sites at Quartzite do have electric hookups, while the rest don’t. There is also a dump station and playground nearby for your convenience.
You’ll also be closest to the park entrance and picnic area, while only being less than half a mile away from the lake. You'll find a picnic table and fire ring at your site, plus a gravel or paved pad. Most sites are located on a beautiful grassy knoll with lush trees scattered around the campground.
Do you have a big family or group of more than eight people? If so, you will probably do better at one of the group camping shelters in the southeast area of the park. Of the nine sites here, seven of them can accommodate up to 20 people, one can host up to 40, and another is big enough for up to 60 people. You’ll have plenty of room to hang out around the campfire pits, which have grills for cooking, as well as picnic tables to seat your whole group. Three of the sites are more rugged than the others, with less cleared space and more foliage.
Although these sites are primitive, you will find a modern restroom with flush toilets and a shower house. In addition, there are two different water spigots for potable water with one that is specifically for winter weather camping. Pets are allowed at these sites as well, but you must keep them properly restrained at all times during your stay.
That’s right; you can still go geocaching in the wintertime. Geocaching is a modern-day version of going on a scavenger hunt. All you’ll need to do is download the GPS coordinates and get out there to find the geocaches. The cold and snow add an extra layer of a fun challenge to this activity. Bring along some small tokens, stickers, or other small toys to put in the geocache if you plan on removing any. And be sure to put the cache back in the same spot so others can have the excitement of finding it too.
The winters can be a bit harsh in Wisconsin, but still fun, nonetheless. So, if you're taking your RV trip in the winter and need to step indoors to get a break from the cold for a bit, you can visit the Nature Center at Devil's Lake State Park. During the winter, the Nature Center is usually only open on Saturdays, so don’t miss your chance to check it out. This warm stop can be a great way to learn a thing or two.
Even in the dead of winter, when the lake has frozen over, the fish are alive and flourishing under the surface. When the ice is thick enough, you can venture out, drill a hole, and see how many fish you can catch. You’ll be able to catch northern pike, brown trout, perch, bass, and much more. Just be sure to take special precautions being out on the ice. Check with the park office or staff to make sure the ice is thick enough to use.
Snowshoeing can also be done anywhere in the park, although there are a few places where it is not ideal, such as trails that have steep hills or steps in the way. You can rent snowshoes from the Nature Center, but keep in mind that they’re only available on a first-come, first-served basis, so if it’s a busy day, they might run out of snowshoes to hand out. With 17 different trails to trek, you can stay out there all day, but don’t forget to dress warmly.
When the snow covers the ground, you can come skiing just about anywhere here in the park. You’ll need to bring your own skis with you though in your camper, as the park does not provide any. Also, keep in mind that none of the park is groomed or kept up for skiers, but skiing can still be a fun family activity. There are 17 trails to choose from, which range in length from 0.1 miles to 13.7 miles.
If you’re an experienced rock climber or boulderer, you’ll be happy to hear that there are rock climbing opportunities here for you. In fact, according to climbers, this is some of the best climbing in the Midwest with picturesque views and quartzite cliffs. The rock-climbing areas are not maintained, though, so you must have lots of experience under you and be willing to accept the risks that come along with climbing. As long as you take precautions, this is a thrilling activity you can enjoy during your RV road trip to Wisconsin.
Scuba diving is a fairly popular activity at Devil’s Lake State Park. The maximum depth is 45 feet, and the water is clear and full of fish. There are no motorboats here to stir up the water, so bring your scuba gear in the RV. There are lots that you can see under the water, but you’ll want to make sure you do it safely. Never go scuba diving alone, and always use a diving flag so that people know where you are.
There are two beaches, totaling over 3,000 feet in length, where you can head into the water for a relaxing swim; each beach has a bathhouse where you can get ready and clean up afterward. Keep in mind, though, when swimming here that there have been reports of swimmer’s itch, so they recommend that you scrub off with a towel and shower immediately after getting out of the water. Also, you will be swimming at your own risk as lifeguards are not provided here.
There are two boat landings that you can use here if you’ve brought your boat. One is near the Chateau on the south shore, and the other is on Park Road between the north and south shores. Keep in mind that only electric boats are allowed, though, no gas-powered boats. You can also rent canoes and kayaks at the concession areas, and there’s even kayaking options for those with disabilities. Make sure you wear a life jacket and be safe while you have fun.
There are 29 miles of hiking in this park on 17 different trails, so you’ll be sure to find one or two that meet your needs. One and a half miles of trails are available for those with disabilities, and these include Tumbled Rocks Trail and Grottos Trail. You can make the entire 13.7-mile Ice Ace Trail Loop or just do the easy 0.5-mile Group Camp Trail or the 0.8-mile Parfrey’s Glen Trail. There are also four miles available for off-road biking if you’ve brought your bicycle with you on this trip.