Devil's Lake (Wisconsin)

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For other uses, see Devils Lake (disambiguation).
Devil's Lake
Devils Lake.jpg
Location Sauk County, Wisconsin, U.S.
Coordinates 43°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
Type endorheic lake
Basin countries United States

Devil's Lake is an endorheic (closed drainage) lake in the South Range of the Baraboo Range, about two miles south of Baraboo, Wisconsin, in Sauk County, Wisconsin, USA. The lake is one of the primary attractions of the eponymous Devil's Lake State Park.

Devils Lake was so named because it is situated in a deep chasm with no visible inlet or outlet.[1] The Ho-Chunk gave Devil's Lake its name because it was said that the voices of spirits were often heard during the celebrations. Their name, however, was “Da-wa-kah-char-gra” meaning “Spirit Lake.” The English name has been cited as a mistranslation.[2]

It is also a popular recreation destination for watercraft, fishing, hiking, and climbing.


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.[3] 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. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 105. 
  2. ^ House, Charles (Mar 4, 1957). "By The Way". The Milwaukee Sentinel. pp. B1. Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  3. ^ A Geologic Tour of the Baraboo Ranges and Devil's Lake Gorge

See also[edit]