Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area

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Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area
Wisconsin State Natural Area
Parfrey's Glen
Parfrey's Glen
Country  United States
State  Wisconsin
County Sauk
Location Merrimac
 - coordinates 43°25′05″N 89°38′29″W / 43.41806°N 89.64139°W / 43.41806; -89.64139Coordinates: 43°25′05″N 89°38′29″W / 43.41806°N 89.64139°W / 43.41806; -89.64139
Area 508 acres (206 ha)
Founded 1952
Owner Wisconsin DNR
Location of Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area in Wisconsin

Parfrey's Glen, located within Devil's Lake State Park, is a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources-designated State Natural Area. The glen is a deep gorge cut through the sandstone of the south flank of the Baraboo Hills. It was the first State Natural Area to be designated in Wisconsin.[1] The valley was named for Robert Parfrey.[2]

Location and access[edit]

Parfrey's Glen is located approximately 5 miles north of Merrimac, Wisconsin. Though within the boundaries of Devil's Lake State Park, it cannot be accessed by vehicle from the rest of the park. A trail leads north into the natural area.[3] The Ice Age Trail also passes through the site. However, heavy rainstorms in 2010 destroyed the boardwalk that made up the last part of the trail, which leads to a small waterfall. Visitors are advised not to travel down that part of the trail. As of September 6, 2015 it has yet to be repaired. As of Sept 3, 2017 still not repaired and lots of damage is being done to the streambed area.


The exposed sandstone walls of Parfrey's glen contain pebbles and boulders of embedded quartzite. The walls were covered with moss and remained moist from seepage before the 2010 floods, which washed away nearly all vegetation in the glen. The mosses and ferns have yet to grow back as of September 2016. The glen has a cool and shaded climate. This results in a flora more typical of northern Wisconsin with yellow birch, mountain maple, and red elder and several rare plant species, including the federally threatened northern monkshood (Aconitum noveboracense) and state-threatened round stemmed false foxglove (Agalinus gattingeri). Additional rare species found here include cliff goldenrod (Solidago sciaphila), and two state-threatened birds, the cerulean warbler (Setophaga cerulea) and Acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens). The fast and cold hardwater stream, Parfrey's Glen Creek, flows through the gorge and harbors a rare species of diving beetle (Agabus confusus) and a rare caddisfly (Limnephilus rossi).[1]


  1. ^ a b "Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area". Wisconsin DNR. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Cole, Harry Ellsworth (1918). A Standard History of Sauk County, Wisconsin. Lewis Publishing Company. p. 415. 
  3. ^ Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area (PDF) (Map). Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 

External links[edit]