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Travel Tips for Dealing with Crowds

Devil's Lake State Park

With over 2.5 million visitors annually, Devil's Lake is the most-visited state park in Wisconsin. When you visit Devil's Lake State Park on weekends during the busy summer and fall seasons, you can expect long lines to enter the park, limited parking availability and crowded trails and picnic areas.  

When and where to expect crowds

Visitors should expect long wait times and busy parking lots from May through October on weekends and holidays. Parking lots often fill before 9 a.m. and access to the park may be temporarily restricted until congestion lessens.

During 2023, South Shore Road at Devil's Lake State Park will be under construction between County Highway DL and Ski Hi Road which may also lead to delays and traffic congestion on busy days. 

The busiest places in the park are the north shore and south shore picnic areas on each end of the lake and the bluff hiking trails surrounding the lake, including the West Bluff, East Bluff, Tumbled Rocks, Balanced Rock and Devil's Doorway trails. Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area, adjacent to Devil's Lake State Park, is also very popular.

Parking Lots

On weekends, parking lots in the popular areas of the park are usually packed for much of the day. When parking lots are full, please remember the following:

  • Parking is allowed in designated spaces only. Do not park along roadways.
  • Do not block traffic flow by waiting for a parking spot to open. Move on and try again later.
  • If camping at the park, consider leaving your vehicle at your campsite.

How to Avoid the Crowds

Avoid visiting on weekends/holidays during summer and fall, and consider coming to Devil's Lake during the week (Monday through Thursday). If your visit must be on a weekend, arrive at the park earlier in the morning or late afternoon for the best chance to avoid mid-day crowds. Late afternoon and evening visits can often be the most enjoyable for viewing the park's features at sunset.

Before your trip, purchase your vehicle admission sticker to avoid waiting in line at the entrance stations. Annual admission stickers can be purchased online, suitable for the calendar year, and valid at all Wisconsin state parks and forests.

Experience a different part of Devil's Lake State Park. There are several outlying parking lots with access to less crowded trails. Steinke Basin, Roznos Meadow and other Ice Age Trail lots all offer access to other scenic areas of the park.

Consider recreating at a nearby property or one you've never been to. Search for state parks and forests across Wisconsin on our Find-A-Park webpage to find properties by your favorite activity.