The Quiet Season

The Quiet Season

Labor Day weekend is behind us, the kids are back in school, the campgrounds are nearly empty and even a few leaves are turning red. The quiet season is upon us!

Well, Devil’s Lake State park is never totally quiet. Most “good weather” weekends going forward are still nearly as busy as they are summer.  They will stay that way at least until the snow begins to cover the trails. Oh, and let’s not forget peak fall color season…. That’s always a crazy busy time of year as well.  Still, after Labor Day, everyone takes a deep breath and begins to ease into a more relaxed state of mind.  It’s a good time to visit actually!


So the first big question of the fall season is, “What park campgrounds are open and how long?”. Well, all the campgrounds in Devil’s Lake State Park are open through next weekend. From Sunday the 11th going forward, both the Northern Lights Campground & the Ice Age Campgrounds will only be open on the weekends. At some point they will close completely for the winter months. Quartzite Campground is open year around.  Oh, and in case you are wondering.. the first frost of the year hits around the last week in September… So dress warm!


The North Shore Chateau will be open 9-5 daily through the end of October.  The South Shore Concession hours are not fixed for fall. You can expect them to be open on “good weather” days. (No guarantees!).  The Ice Age Campground Store will be open: Friday: 3pm-10pm, Sat: 7:30am-10pm, Sun 7:30am-12pm. Both the South Store & Ice Age stores will close after Columbus Day.

Peak Fall Color

Another big question is; “When will it be peak colors?” Good Question! When even Tripadvisor gives Devil’s Lake a fall color ‘Five Star” review, you know it’s the place to see the big show. Now the problem is that nature makes its own plans. Here’s what I can tell you; I will post how the colors are looking on our Facebook page.  The State Department of Tourism has a peak fall color map right here. (I don’t totally trust the map, but it’s worth a look too.) Very generally plan for late September to early October. The last 2 years I’ve called peak near the second week of October.

I also have a couple of suggested Fall Color Scenic Drives through the Baraboo Hills for you.  Be sure to check those out.

Birding & Migration

The Baraboo Hills are a unique and highly regarded birding area year around.  This is because if you can find it anywhere in Wisconsin, you can probably find it here in one of the many diverse ecosystems.  The trick is knowing what where and when of course.  Well, we invite you to join our Birds of Sauk County group on Facebook. Check in, share, ask! Fall migration season is here! We’re already seeing sandpipers and a few pelicans!

Nature Programs

Throughout the rest of the fall, there are still quite a few programs put on by the Nature Center. There are still hikes (Including the popular Halloween Mystery Hike Saturday, October 22nd from 6:00pm – 8:30pm!) and other activities. Kayak tours & Learn To Kayak programs are done for the year. The water will get too cold to be safe without the right gear.  To check out park events click here.

Volunteer Conservation Opportunities

One other point worth mentioning as we slide into autumn is volunteer work.  Through the month of October and possibly later depending on weather, there will be many opportunities to help with trails & conservation efforts within the park.  To get involved please contact the park naturalist and let her know you’d like to help. Given the way of the world these days, your hands and your time are more valuable than money!

To Volunteer Contact

Contact Sue Johansen, Park Naturalist
(608) 356-8301 Ext. 140


Well, there’s never really an end. I first put on line 20 years ago this year. Crazy! In all that time I’ve learned that seasons never end, they simply change, year in and year out.. Summer’s craziness slips into the cozy, relaxation of fall. Winter rolls in from the north and we just get the snowshoes out and keep exploring. Before you know it, we’re back out doing summer kayak tours…..

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