Devil's Lake State Park. (Photo via Wisconsin DNR)
Devil's Lake State Park. (Photo via Wisconsin DNR)

Wisconsin’s most popular state park is getting a sizable addition to join its existing 9,000-plus acre footprint.

One of Wisconsin’s oldest and most popular state parks is set to get an upgrade. 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has officially been given the go-ahead to purchase 220 acres at $1.65 million for the expansion of Devil’s Lake State Park. 

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, which oversees the state budget, this month approved the proposed purchase through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, which funds the purchase of land for conservation and recreation.

Sunset view from a hiking trail in Devil’s Lake State Park. (Shutterstock)

Devil’s Lake is located outside Baraboo in central Wisconsin and receives an estimated 2.5 million visitors every year, making it the state’s most popular state park, according to a DNR memo. It is also Wisconsin’s third-oldest park, founded in 1911 and encompassing about 9,200 acres. 

The park is famous for its 500-foot quartzite bluffs with features such as the Balancing Rock and Devil’s Doorway. The top of the bluffs look out onto a 360-acre lake. 

The 220 acres the DNR is set to purchase are southwest of the park, bordered by Highway 12 to the west. It is mostly woodlands and would be used initially for hunting and wildlife watching with plans to build out hiking and mountain bike trails in the future. 

Much of the new area is walkable, with some prairie land on the south end of the addition, DNR officials told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The land had been privately owned for 100 years, according to the Journal Sentinel.

The DNR memo said the new land could be used for hunting, wildlife watching, hiking, and mountain biking.

DNR officials said further details on the expansion will be decided in 2022. 

Autumn colors at Devil’s Lake State Park. (Shutterstock)