It’s hard to believe that as recently as five years ago the #1 management priority at Devil’s Lake State Park was controlling the overflow from the CCC parking lot. Climbers used to park on both sides of the road when this lot was full. The DNR put up signs forbidding this and got really aggressive with tickets. DL is Wisconsin’s busiest park, and among the highest used state parks in the country. Used to be – not too long ago – that if you wanted to park in the “climber’s lot” you needed to get there by 9am.
Not anymore. Or, at least, not on Saturday August 23rd at noon. Check these out:
On the positive side, the campgrounds were booked solid for the weekend. However, there were only three or four groups climbing on the bluff, and fewer still hiking. Most of the day action at the park was over at the beaches, with parking lots there at about 30% of capacity.
There are too many factors at play to try to figure out what’s happening here. It seems that industry trends point to fewer user-days at use in the parks, with an increase in family camping. But, this is just from memory.
Bells started ringing from somewhere when we drove into this empty parking lot. Whether they were bells of recognition or bells of alarm, I’m not sure yet. It’s just worth noting, and watching.
By the way, for all of the best and most popular climbs at Devil’s Lake, on weekends there’s no waiting…