July 23, 2014
Baraboo Circus Celebration


Big Top Parade in Baraboo Wisconsin

Well, the sad news is that Devil’s Lake State Park’s Archery Days has been cancelled for this weekend.. but that means you’re all free to head into downtown Baraboo for Baraboo’s 2nd annual Circus Celebration and Big Top Parade! The event sponsored by Circus World and the Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce, kicks off on Thursday with various local shows and events that run through the weekend with the Big Top Parade running Saturday, July 26th, at 2pm.

The Big Top Parade route loops around downtown Baraboo’s historic courthouse square.  Visitors will want to plan to arrive in Baraboo early in the day Saturday, bring chairs if you want them & park at one of the official lots or on a residential side street. FREE Shuttle Buses will be running from the 3 designated parking lots to the Downtown Area and back from 10AM to 7PM. Shuttles will drop off and pick up at 2nd and Oak Street. These lots will be at: Isenberg’s (Hwy 33, East Side), Circus World Museum and Pierce’s Market (Hwy 12, West Side).   Be aware, that when it comes to parking, there will also be a few “clowns” out there offering a parking space for insane prices. Pass them by, there’s no need to pay scalpers when there are plenty of official parking areas and side streets to park on.  Just come early, use the shuttles or walk.

Now here’s the info you’ll want to see…

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July 22, 2014
4 Wisconsin State Parks, 5 Days


Big Bay State Park - Wisconsin

Of course our first love is Devil’s Lake State Park, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love Wisconsin’s other 63 State Parks as well.  In fact, our goal is to visit them all!

Over the last week, we’ve knocked off 4 of the state’s finest; Big Bay, Copper Falls, Amnicon Falls & Pattison.. Call it our “Big Falls & Big Water” tour.  Big Bay State Park is located on Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands and located on the shoreline of the worlds largest freshwater lake. Pattison State Park has Wisconsin’s Largest Waterfall, although the falls at Copper Falls & Amnicon Falls State Parks certainly rival the big one in overall beauty!

In our 5 day state park road trip we camped at Copper Falls, Amnicon & two nights at Big Bay. (Yeah, we could actually get reservations!) We hiked the trails, took in the sights and took lots of pictures.  Along the way, we couldn’t help but compare these state parks with our own local jewel.  Sometimes we were even a bit jealous!

Check back over the next few weeks as I post our experiences from each of these parks as part of our “Backyard Explorer” series starting off with a look at Copper Falls State Park in Mellen, Wisconsin.  I can tell you right now that it was one of our favorite campgrounds along the way! The welcome committee was once in a lifetime… Stay tuned!!

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July 11, 2014
Bagpipes & Stuff! This Weekend.


Durward's Glen Baraboo Wisconsin

So what’s up this weekend here in the Baraboo hills?  Well, let’s hit the highlights…

This Saturday (July 12th, 2014) evening at Durward’s Glen you can chill out to “Bagpipes in the Glen”… Well, I’m not sure you can chill out to bagpipes!  Be that as it may, Piper Bill, Violinist Reva and the Kilkenny Celtic Band will return to Durward’s Glen for a free evening of music. Bring your own picnic or buy brats, chips, ice cream and more.  Music starts at 7pm.  For details visit the Durward’s Glen website at www.durwardsglen.com.

Meanwhile in Baraboo, the Sauk County Fair continues through Sunday. We’ve posted map and directions from the park right here.

Here at the park, Dances with Dirt runners will be blowing through tomorrow (Click here for details) while swimmers will be participating in the Big Swell on South Shore Sunday.  The park’s nature center will have a whole stack of events going on throughout the weekend as well. Check out our events calendar for that info.

Everybody enjoy the weekend before the POLAR VORTEX returns to Wisconsin next week.. Yikes!

Kilkenny? Suddenly I need to watch South Park….

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July 8, 2014
Sauk County Fair Going On Now!


Sauk County Fair Baraboo Wisconsin

The Sauk County Fair in Baraboo runs this week from July 07 through July 13, 2014.  Our county fair is about as close as you’ll ever get to an old-fashioned country fair with everything from tractor pulls & country music to rabbit judging.. and of course lots of carnival rides! Score a $20 wristband on Wednesday and ride all you want from 4pm to 11pm.  Nature lovers might want to get in on the FREE Bird House Building Sponsored by The Badger Area Technical Society (BATS),Youth Action Center (located by 4H food stand) from 4 to 7pm on Friday.  Of course I just go for the funnel cakes!

For details and schedules head over to the Sauk County Fair Website or check them out on Facebook.

Directions from Devil’s Lake State Park

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July 3, 2014
Where’s The Fireworks?



Here are a few places to check out the 2014 Independance Day fireworks near Devil’s Lake State Park;

Baraboo Independence Day

Date: July 4, 2014 at Dusk
Where: Baraboo High School Athletic Field
5:30 PM: Food Vendors open
8:00 PM: Music starts at the Grandstand
8:55 PM: Presentation of the Color & Honor Guard followed by Patriotic Music
9:20/9:30: FIREWORKS!
1201 Draper Street in Baraboo, Wisconsin 53913 – Google Map

Reedsburg Fourth of July Festivities

Date: July 4, 2014 at Dusk
Where: Nishan Park
1700 Eighth Street in Reedsburg, Wisconsin 53959 – Google Map

Sauk Prairie Fire On The River

Date: July 5, 2014 at Dusk
Where: Sauk City Riverwalk
726 Water Street in Sauk City, Wisconsin 53583 – Google Map

Merrimac Fire Department Fireworks Show

Date: July 5, 2014 at Dusk
Where: S7116 Bluff Road in Merrimac, Wisconsin 53561

Wisconsin Dells 4th of July Extravaganza

Date: July 4, 2014 at Dusk
Where: Wisconsin Dells Municipal Pool
Superior St in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 53965

Remember, most fireworks are illegal in Wisconsin State Parks.  More Details.

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July 2, 2014
North Shore Water Quality Advisory



Devil’s Lake North Shore Beach is under a water quality advisory. This from the Park’s Assistant Superintendent; As of today’s reporting, Devil’s Lake North Shore Beach is under a water quality advisory. Our sample results came back at 238 cfu/100mL and the threshold for posting is 235.”  What he is referring to here is the E. coli count. Signs are being posted at the park today. The presence of bacteria such as E. coli indicates the presence of human or animal wastes in the water. If bacteria counts are high enough that there is a risk of illness, a beach closing or advisory is issued. Generally, advisories do not mean the beach is closed, but suggest that you should not ingest or drink the water.  It also means children, the elderly and those in ill health or weakened immune systems are advised not to swim.  According to the advisory, the water at Devil’s Lake State Park’s north shore will not be tested again until after the holiday weekend.

If you have any questions please contact the park directly at 608.356.8301.


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July 2, 2014
Backyard Explorer – Quincy Bluff & Wetlands


Quincy Bluff And Wetlands State Natural Area

Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area is south-west of Adams-Friendship in the Central Sand Plain of Wisconsin and is just a 50 minute drive north of Devil’s Lake State Park. Quincy offers sweeping landscapes with sandstone mesas and buttes rising 100-200 feet above flat savannas, dry forests and wetlands. The view from some areas leaves one feeling as if they had been dropped somewhere in north-eastern Wyoming.

Quincy Bluff and Wetlands is not normally on anyone’s list of “Must See” destinations. You can expect to be the only ones there on any given day. The 3,792 acres of oak-pine barrens, sedge meadows and shrubby wetlands is a bit out-of-the-way and doesn’t fit our classic definition of a “beauty spot”. Still once you arrive and start walking past the old red gate, you soon realize how amazing it all really is.  First of course is the scenery. Beginning in a small wetland, you can follow a sandy old road through a variety of landscapes. Early on we saw hundreds of wild roses among a mix of other wildflowers. With each step a smattering of bees, butterflies and dragonflies would scatter in all directions. Slowly the sandy lowland turned to forest (A great place for a picnic lunch!) and was quickly climbing up the sandy side of the central bluff.  As you gain elevation an amazing vista opens up to the north. (See the photo above.) We kept expecting to see a big brown bear lumbering through the meadows below us, even though only black bear make their homes here in Wisconsin. Even an elk or two wouldn’t have felt out of place. There were certainly plenty of blueberries to keep the critters well fed!

The top of the bluff is decorated with a tall fire tower and is mostly overgrown or private. The vistas described on official guides seem long gone. We followed a small animal path through some dense scrub and eventually were greeted with open views to the west and we could make out Castle Rock Lake to the north.  The best views however, were the ones we had passed on the way up.


Dragonfly lands in front of a wild rose.

Wildlife, or the signs of wildlife, were everywhere at Quincy Bluff. We found large deer tracks, coyote tracks and deep dens dug into the sand. Families of chipmunks darted across the trails back and forth in front and behind us, seemingly unaware of our presence.  We spent some time watching a red-headed woodpecker moving from tree to tree looking for breakfast and while down in the meadows, two sandhill cranes rose into the air and flew off, cursing us the whole way!

As we made our way back to the car, we knew we wanted to come back another day and explore further into the meadows. We’d just need to remember to bring a compass!

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes near Quincy Bluff State Natural Area

From the road, a hike up Quincy’s only easily identifiable trail and back may take an hour or so. You can certainly spend the day if you feel like exploring the open lands. If you go, you should realize that Quincy bluff is a bit more “off-the-beaten-path” than some of our “Backyard” destinations as you’ll see in the map below.  This means, you probably want to fill your gas tank and have a few supplies along including snacks and drinking water. Also bring bug spray with deet. The tick population is thick. Without spray we were covered with ticks in the first 5 minutes. After spraying down, we rarely saw a tick for the rest of the day.  You’ll also want sunscreen, sunglasses and a large-brimmed hat for a summer visit. Even with the wetlands, most of the area is dry, sandy, bright and it gets very hot. We choose to visit early in the day, when it was still cloudy and cool (At least when we started out!).

More Pictures

Bumblebee & Rose Horizon Pink Flowers Wetlands Animal Den Packer Leaf Swamp Blueberries Lowland Trail...


Google Map

from Devil’s Lake State Park Visitors Guide http://ift.tt/1rkaPMC

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July 1, 2014
Bike Trails Closed But Only To Bikes…



So the quick “official” notice is that the Devil’s Lake State Park bike trails are closed until further notice due to storm damage.  Well, what you want to know is what the “official” line really means to you.. so…

First, Devil’s Lake State Park really only has one bike trail and that’s the Uplands Trail which is not actually closed, because among other things, it’s part of the National Ice Age trail and it is open to hiking.  There are connectors from the Northern Lights Campground and through the Steinke Basin Loop as well.  None of these trails are “closed” either.  You could even argue that the trails are not much worse for wear because of the recent storms than they were a month ago.   It’s also fair to say that bikers will be riding the trail as usual because, well, it’s a mountain bike trail and “low maintenance” to mountain bikers generally means “more challenging”.  But I didn’t tell you that! :)

So no trails are actually closed, you just can’t ride your bikes on them… officially.

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June 27, 2014
Bats, Bears & Bows This Weekend!


Archery Days at Devil's Lake State Park

It’s Archery Days at Devil’s Lake State Park this weekend.  Saturday June 28th & Sunday June 29th from 12:30 to 3:00 you can drop in any time and try your hand with a bow and arrow.  If you’ve never tried it before, there will be certified instructors there to help you and kids of all ages with some target practice.  Not into hunting?  No big deal, Archery’s growing popularity (especially among young girls) has more to do with the Hunger Games than hunting. And that’s great!  Check out this story from NPR, then head over to Devil’s Lake State Park this weekend for a bit of target practice!

Bat Watch

See em??

Of course, there are a couple of other weekend programs at the park to check out this weekend as well.  Starting tonight (Friday June 27th) at 8:45 pm, Park Naturalist, Susan Johansen will be hosting another popular Lawn Chair Bat Watch over at the new Bat Condo on the North Shore near the boat landing. It’s a great time to bring a comfy lawn chair and watch the bats! She’ll have fun bat information and a bat scavenger hunt for the kids to do while the wait to the bats to emerge.

On Saturday night (June 28th) Carl Anderson from the North American Bear center will be talking all about the North American Black Bear.  (Yup, they live at Devil’s Lake Too!) He’ll talk about the many common misconceptions folks have about bears and talk about why black bears are so important and why we should be glad to have them in our area. The program starts at 8pm and will last about an hour.  Just head up to the Northern Lights Amphitheater for that program.

Have a great weekend and as always, be safe!

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June 27, 2014
Leaves of Three…


Poison Ivy at Devil's Lake State Park

Poison Ivy is common in the Baraboo hills area and is often found along the hiking trails at Devil’s Lake State Park as well as many other state trails and natural areas. For folks who are not used to identifying plants, poison ivy can seem hard to recognise. This is why that old saying, “Leaves of 3, leave it be!” is worth remembering.  From there you simply need to be aware of your surroundings and stay on the trails.

Poison Ivy, which has the awesome scientific of “Toxicodendron radicans”, is feared by hikers due to the irritating red rash it can cause if your skin comes in contact with the leaves.  For what it’s worth, according to WebMD.com, only about 85% of us are actually allergic to poison ivy.. so maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who can roll around “nekkid” in the stuff.. But is it worth the risk to find out?

Because poison ivy causes an allergic reaction, call your doctor if you have

  • Severe blistering, swelling, and itching
  • Symptoms in sensitive areas such as the eyes, lips, throat, or genitals
  • Fever
  • A rash over large areas of your body
  • A rash lasting longer than a week to 10 days
  • Blisters that become infected with pus

Get immediate medical help for any difficulty breathing or severe coughing after exposure to poison ivy!

For most of us the itching, rash and swelling will slowly go away in a couple of weeks.  If you get into it, wash your skin in warm, soapy water as soon as possible.  Wash your clothing.  Don’t scratch and give calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream a try to sooth the itching.  You may even want to try taking an antihistamine pill.  If these ideas are not helping, call your doctor.

So, have fun out on the trails but keep an eye out for poison ivy this time of year. It’s usually everywhere you want to be.

More Information

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