Devil's Lake (Wisconsin)

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Devil's Lake
Devils Lake.jpg
Location of Devil's Lake in Wisconsin, USA.
Location of Devil's Lake in Wisconsin, USA.
Devil's Lake
Location of Devil's Lake in Wisconsin, USA.
Location of Devil's Lake in Wisconsin, USA.
Devil's Lake
LocationSauk County, Wisconsin, U.S.
Coordinates43°25′05″N 89°43′55″W / 43.41806°N 89.73194°W / 43.41806; -89.73194Coordinates: 43°25′05″N 89°43′55″W / 43.41806°N 89.73194°W / 43.41806; -89.73194
TypeEndorheic lake
Basin countriesUnited States
Surface area374 acres (151 ha)[1][2]
Average depth30 ft (9.1 m)[1]
Max. depth47 ft (14 m)[1][2]

Devil's Lake is a lake in the South Range of the Baraboo Range, about two miles south of Baraboo, Wisconsin, in Sauk County, Wisconsin, USA. It has no surface outlets, so by some definitions, it is endorheic; however, it probably drains by underground channels into the Baraboo River.[3] The lake is one of the primary attractions of Devil's Lake State Park. It is also a popular recreation destination for watercraft, fishing, hiking, and climbing.


Devil's Lake was so named because it is situated in a deep chasm with no visible inlet or outlet.[4] The term, devil's lake is a misinterpretation of the Ho-Chunk name Tawacunchukdah or Da-wa-kah-char-gra, which better translates to "Sacred Lake" or "Spirit Lake."[5][6] Spirit Lake is highly significant in Ho-Chunk oral history, and voices of spirits were often heard during the celebrations.


The terminal moraine stretching across the former river gorge in Devil's Lake State Park
View of the Northern shore of Devil's Lake

Devil's Lake was originally a gorge of the Wisconsin River prior to the last ice age. At what is now the southern end of the lake, the river turned from a southerly direction to an easterly direction. During the ice age, a lobe of the glacier passed to the east of the Baraboo Hills and came up the river valley. It deposited materials and then melted, leaving a terminal moraine blocking the river, forming an earthen dam.[7] Another moraine was deposited at the north end of the lake. The river eventually found a new course to the east of the Baraboo Hills, where the glacier had been, leaving a portion of the river gorge between the moraines filled with water. This body of water is Devil's Lake.


  1. ^ a b "Devils Lake". Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  2. ^ Arthur C. Trowbridge, "The History of Devils Lake, Wisconsin", The Journal of Geology 25:4:344-372 (May-June 1917) JSTOR 30067000
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. pp. 105.
  4. ^ Pillsbury, Diane (June 2011). "Devil's Lake State Park centennial". Wisconsin Natural Resources. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  5. ^ House, Charles (Mar 4, 1957). "By The Way". The Milwaukee Sentinel. pp. B1. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  6. ^ A Geologic Tour of the Baraboo Ranges and Devil's Lake Gorge Archived 2007-06-30 at the Wayback Machine

See also[edit]