It didn’t take long before Illinois was in the rearview mirror and we were skirting around Madison, Wisconsin, heading north. After three weeks in Illinois, we were ready to hit the road and explore a new to us State Park.
As we approached the entrance to Devil’s Lake State Park, we were quickly reminded about how lush and dense the vegetation grows here in the Midwest. The trees created such a unique canopy that it blocked out any direct sunlight requiring the truck headlights be turned on.
We proceeded slowly through the entrance following the signs directing us toward the camper check-in, ever hopeful that no tree branches would scrape our roof. I was confident we wouldn’t have any problems with vegetation once we arrived at our campsite that I had reserved, heeding the wonderful advice and recommendation from our good friends, MonaLiza and Steve.
They camped here last year and found the majority of campsites to be unacceptable for their big rig. They provided us with lots of helpful tidbits making our reservation decisions much easier. Thanks guys!
I’m not a fan of trees near my RV, so I was thrilled to find all the trees at a safe distance. Our site was also easy for us to level up. The majority of sites are sloped in some form, making leveling a challenge. There’s a handful of paved sites in the Quartzsite Campground and the rest are a gravel/grass combo like our site.
On our first full day at the State Park, we set off on a hike in search of Balanced Rock and Devil’s Doorway. I don’t know about you, but I thought the entrance to the park might have been Devil’s Doorway. But alas, this unique rock formation is named Devil’s Doorway.
To get to this scenic site required a little climbing on our part….. step climbing that is. We had about a 500 foot ascend in front of us. Fortunately, we had a series of granite rock steps to aid us in the climb. When the trail info listed this hike as difficult, I kind of dismissed any concerns. After all this was Wisconsin, and I’m used to hiking in Colorado. Thus, I thought difficult here would probably be more like moderate in the mountains.
Hubby and I were impressed with ourselves. Other than the occasional photo-op stop, no breathing stops were needed. We did take it slow though, not wanting to lose our balance on the granite stone.
Our day started out sunny, but windy. By the time we made it up to Balanced Rock, the winds had let up somewhat but storm clouds were brewing.
We thought once we made it to Balanced Rock that the trail would level off…. wrong. There were more steps to climb. “We’re almost there, honey. Not much further and we’ll be at the top”, I said in a very encouraging and sweet tone. Hubby responded with a disbelieving chuckle, “Yeah, that’s what you said 20 minutes ago”.
Alas, we made it to the top of the bluff and the trail flattened out. Hubby even found a bench for us to sit while we hydrated.
With Balanced Rock checked off, I had one more quest that required a short detour off the main trail. Ladies first!
What’s in a name? The original Native American name for Devil’s Lake could have been translated as Spirit Lake, Holy Lake, Mystery Lake, or Sacred Lake. But the Winnebago name “Ta-wa-cun-chuk-dah” was translated into Devil’s Lake by locals and legends were manufactured to boost tourism to the area.
The view was worth the climb via the precarious rock steps. With photo-op quest number two accomplished, we worked our way back to the main trail and were met with a gentle sprinkle of soft raindrops followed by a steady flow. My camera was safely stowed in a Ziploc bag and tucked under my raincoat.Al and I quickened our pace on the flat trail. The rain stopped just in time for us to descend. However, the wet granite from the rain was now somewhat slippery. So we continued with extra caution on each rock step and made it to the trailhead without any harrowing tale to share on the blog. Just the way hubby likes it!
This was a wonderful 2 hour hike and probably our favorite Midwestern experience thus far. Next up, feathers…. and lots of them!