As some of you may know we recently stayed at Devil’s Lake State Park for a night of camping, hiking and fishing. We had such a great time and wanted to share some info to help you plan your trip!
What To Do
While we were there we went on a hike, you can read about that here. There are many trails and you can get a brochure when entering the park that will show all the options!
There are two beaches (north shore and south shore) along with some concession stands if you are hungry! On the lake you can rent kayaks and stand up paddle boards or you can just relax on the beach and go swimming. Unfortunately, we got rained out and were not able to kayak, but we did do some fishing!
Looking for something a little more adventurous? You can take a rock climbing lesson and challenge yourself on one of the 1600 available climbing routes.
Devil’s Lake is located within a half hour of Wisconsin Dells. If you have a few days to stay I would recommend spending some time there to shop, eat, or check out one of the many water/amusement parks and go kart tracks.
Where To Stay
This is the option we chose and we stayed in the Northern Lights campground in a tent. There are 423 total sights that can accommodate anywhere from 1-250 people. Each campground has bathrooms, showers and water taps. There are also fill/dump stations for RVs. A great addition to this park is their concessions buildings, this makes it a great location if you are new to camping! They sell hot food, groceries, some camp items and souvenirs.
These campgrounds can fill fast, so try to book early if you can! If the spots are full there are also some local, private campgrounds. While we have not stayed in any of these I will list some of the best reviewed locations at the end!
Devil’s Lake Grand Cabin is located right outside the park. This is a large cabin that can accommodate up to 12 guests. Depending on the time of year you may need to book 2-3 nights minimum and the rates begin at $325/night. There are a few more cabins in the area and I will include those at the end with campsites!
Hotels & Bed and Breakfast
This state park is just a 20 minute drive from Wisconsin Dells, so there are many hotel options! This is also great if you’d like to enjoy some of the waterparks and restaurants in the Dells.
The first location is a beautiful Bed and Breakfast, The Inn at Wawanissee Point. There are four beautifully decorated rooms. They serve a daily breakfast and cocktail hour and you will have access to a conference room and fitness center.
Our hotel recommendation is in Wisconsin Dells, called Baker’s Sunset Bay Resort. This is a 25 minute drive from Devil’s Lake and a great location for families. They have single rooms and two bedroom suites and cabins. There is an indoor/outdoor pool, beach access to Lake Delton where you can relax, kayak, play games, and rent boats and jet skis! You can also enjoy their nightly bonfire and arcade/rec room.
Here are some local campgrounds that have RV and tent campsites, and cabins:
In March we went to the Smoky Mountains and took on our hardest hike to date. We set out on the Alum Cave Trail! We did not take the trail all the way to the peak of Mt. LeConte (5 miles), but we did go about 2.5 miles and stopped at the Alum Cave Bluffs and saw some great views!
If you’re coming from Gatlinburg, you can find the trailhead by heading towards the Sugarlands visitors center and traveling about 8 miles south until you see the sign for the trail. Parking can fill up quick, so it’s best to arrive early!
Although we didn’t get to the peak, this trail was still a tough one! We gained 1,000 feet in elevation in the 2.5 miles to the bluffs. Most of the elevation was gained towards the end.
The beginning portion of the hike is very peaceful as you walk aside the rushing water of the Alum Cave Creek.
After about 1.3 miles you will approach these beautiful stone stairs. This is the Arch Rock and it was created from wind and rain eroding the soft rock, creating this unique cave like formation. You will climb several steps through the cave and upon exiting you will have just slightly over a mile left to the Alum Cave Bluffs!
Although it was about a 65 degree day in Gatlinburg, as we gained elevation we could definitely feel the temperature dip. Fortunately, there were fixed ropes towards the top as the ground got very icy! Along with carefully watching our step, we also had to watch our heads as small icicles and large ice sheets were falling from above. It was such an amazing experience to see all the rocks and ground covered in these sheets of ice!
We finally reached our destination, the Alum Cave Bluff! We learned at this point that there’s not an actual cave, but it’s still an amazing sight! The Bluff is about 80 feet tall and completely made from rock. It does slightly arch, so we were able to sit under it and take in the views while protected from the falling ice!
At this point we just sat at the top and took in the amazing views and embraced the nature around us. In this photo you can see where the trail continues on to reach the peak of Mt. LeConte. We thought about it, however we had already taken on way more than we were prepared for. We turned around and made future goals of one day reaching the top!
Here you can see the top of the bluff from where we were sitting in the previous photo! If you look close enough, you can see the icicles hanging down. The sun came out and increased the amount of ice falling. Larger pieces of ice began to fall, so we headed back down to be safe!
Overall we would say this is a harder hike, not for those who are newer to hiking (like we are). We were exhausted for the next couple days and our bodies definitely needed a break. We are currently training to prepare to hike back up to the peak! If you are prepared we highly recommend this hike, it is peaceful, challenging and absolutely beautiful at the top! It took us about 4 hours and our total distance was 5.32 miles, we gained 1,032 feet in elevation.
One other recommendation is to make sure you have trekking poles! We did not, and immediately bought them after this hike. We saw many people utilizing them and we are certain they would have helped.
Thank you so much for following our adventures! See more on Instagram at Adventuring_ellisons
Last week we went camping at Devil’s Lake State Park in Wisconsin. Despite some rain during our trip we had a great time! Luckily, we hiked on our first day which was rain free.
We hiked the Devil’s Doorway Loop, made up of Grottos Trail, CCC Trail, East Bluff Trail, Devil’s Doorway Trail (if you choose, we recommend it!) and Balanced Rock Trail. I tracked our hike using Map My Fitness, it took us 2:46 minutes and we logged just over 3 miles of hiking and gained 400 feet in elevation. This was a difficult hike for us due to the quick gain in elevation, on the CCC trail. If you are interested, we recommend some practice on the stair stepper!
We decided to start out on Grottos Trail because we wanted to save the Devil’s Doorway and Balanced Rock Trail for last. The beginning portion of this trail is fairly easy as you are just hiking a dirt path with little elevation.
Along Grottos Trail you will find the beautiful hills of quartzite that you will soon be climbing. These large rocks were dropped off the edge of an iceburg 13,000 years ago. We have never seen anything like this before and it was truly an amazing sight.
At the end of Grottos Trail, we began the toughest part of our hike on CCC Trail. This is a short trail of .3 miles, but you gain 315 feet in that short time. This is a difficult and steep portion of the trail that is made from stone steps. When taking this trail be sure to plant your foot on as much of the stone as possible and take your time. Be cautious in the winter or after rain as they can become very slippery!
Once we made it to the top of CCC trail we stopped to enjoy some views, and then continued on to East Bluff Trail. Much of this portion of the trail was paved and there were many beautiful overlooks to stop and take in the beauty of Devil’s Lake.
Finally we made it to Devil’s Doorway Trail! This is a small .1 mile trail that comes off of East Bluff Trail. This is another place we stopped to take in the sights of this beautiful formation with the lake in the background. It is unknown how this structure was created, however many believe it was from water freezing and thawing in the cracks of the quartzite. Regardless of how it was formed, you can’t help but sit back and think about how amazing our world is for creating these unique formations.
Next up, we continued on East Bluff Trail towards Balanced Rock Trail. This portion of the trail made us glad we went the way we did! This portion is incredibly steep. The stone steps seemed to be larger, there was less to grab onto, and sometimes the trail blended into the rest of the surrounding rocks. It was a very unique trail and was an awesome experience, but be vigilant and take your time!
Our final stop was the Balanced Rock. I read that it can be easy to miss, and this is very true! Fortunately, the signs appear a bit more frequently as you get closer, but keep an eye out so you don’t miss it! You can see it up close and personal off the trail, and a couple more times as you begin your decent to the end of the loop. Balanced Rock is a piece of quartzite that broke off from the East Bluff and landed perfectly on another rock. We took some photos, relaxed for a few minutes and continued our decent to the end of the hike.
Overall we would call this a difficult hike, it is recommended to avoid in the winter as the rocks can become very slippery and unsafe. We did run out of water as it was quite humid and the climb took a lot out of us, so bring a little extra water than you typically would! We had such a great time and are looking forward to going back so we can continue training for a difficult hike we have coming up in a couple months.
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Our trip to Madeira Beach was absolutely perfect! Prior to going, we decided we wanted to eat at a new place every night, and try as much seafood as possible. The farthest we travelled was 20 minutes, but a few of the locations were in walking distance of our condo!
Below are our favorite restaurants:
The first night we had Bubba Gumps at John’s Pass. It was right across the street and although we said no chains allowed, we don’t have one near us so we gave it a shot!
Just a warning, it was a Tuesday night and the wait was 1.5 hours, so make a reservation or try to get there earlier! We ended up eating around 8:30, but we were able to walk back and relax at our condo while we waited, so it wasn’t too bad.
I drank a Tropical Breeze and ate the Maker’s Mark Grilled Salmon with broccoli and a side of fries. We were able to sit outside feeling the cool breeze while watching the boats come through the drawbridge. Overall the atmosphere, service and food were great!
2. Next up is Crabby Bill’s! This was about a 20 minute drive to Indian Rocks Beach from where we stayed in Madeira Beach and well worth the drive!
I had the king crab legs and fries, along with a strawberry daquiri
It was a very relaxed environment inside and is family friendly. We made sure to stop by the souvenir shop for a t-shirt after dinner!
The back of the building hosts a bar and fun outdoor atmosphere where they have live music every day if you are looking for some entertainment with your meal.
3. Our next stop is Boardwalk grill. We checked trip advisor for reviews of all the local restaurants and this one was a clear winner. We can confirm that the reviews are correct and the food is amazing!
We started with fried pickles, then I had a lobster roll, Bryan had the grouper po boy and his mom had the clam strip basket. Everything was great, but the grouper po boy was by far the shining star!
From the outside it can be seen as underwhelming, but I assure you that the the food is amazing. It is a smaller place, so be sure to get there a little earlier than dinner time or be prepared for a bit of a wait. We waited about a half hour and watched the boats pass through and looked for dolphins!
4. Our 4th night we headed out again to Indian Shores to Salt Rock Grill.
We made a reservation and were sat promptly and started with the shrimp cocktail. I drank a Hawaiian and if you love pineapple this drink is perfect for you!
We all ate the surf and turf, I added a vegetable stack and everything was cooked to perfection! Our service was excellent and very knowledgeable.
5. Our final favorite is Mad Beach Brewing, located in John’s Pass this was in walking distance to our condo!
We listened to the reviews and started with the totchos. They were amazing! I drank a wine freeze with an extra shot of rum. It was very refreshing and perfect for a hot day!
I ate the pulled pork sandwich and it was delicious! Unfortunately they do not have fries, but I did enjoy my tots fondue on the side.
Bryan ordered a flight and was very happy with it! One of his favorites being the Madeira Vice, I also enjoyed the Acider Pineapple sour. We grabbed crowlers of each on the way out!
Comment to let us know if you have tried any of these places! Thank you so much for checking out our favorite places! We’d love for you to subscribe to follow along with our adventures!
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If you have the itch to get out and go hiking this is the place to start! Before we get into the best gear to start with we would like you to know that you don’t need the fanciest, most expensive gear. You can get started with a simple pair of tennis shoes and gym clothes.
The first “item” is the All Trails app. We wish we found this sooner! This is a great way to find trails anywhere you are. You can search by length, difficulty and more! We also love that you can read and leave reviews. You can see recent reviews regarding snow, mud, closed trails, etc. This is great if you’re just getting started so you don’t over exert yourself!
Next up is hiking shoes/boots! Britney has the Moab 2 Mid Waterproof hiking shoes and they are perfect for her! They support the ankles and are wide enough that her feet don’t hurt if/when they swell from a long hike. They leave space for hiking socks too!
Trekking poles were something we weren’t sure we needed until we ascended 1000ft in 2.5 miles. Now that we have them, they go with us everywhere! They are great for protecting your knees going down hill and for helping your endurance going up. They also help you keep better posture and balance! The ones we purchased were $100 from REI. We were advised that for just starting out we didn’t need anything fancy. Something we recommend getting are cork grips. The cork will wick away moisture and offer you a better grip. You can find even more cost effective ones on Amazon in the $50 range.
Finally, we recommend a hydration pack! We have the Osprey Manta 34 and love it! It holds extra layers and plenty of water for our hikes. It is lightweight, offers ventilation and a tension panel to keep the weight off your back. This was around $180 and although we believe it is absolutely worth it you can find them around $30 if you are sticking to a budget!
This first post kicks off what will be an extraordinary adventure. Our names are Britney and Bryan. We have always had the bug to travel and enjoy the outdoors. Pursuing a life along the trails and among the great outside. Our main goal is to visit every National Park in the United States. We hope that by sharing our experiences with you that you will also find that travel bug, and start feeling the need to scratch that itch. Since we are newbies into the world of camping and hiking, we bring a unique perspective. There are plenty of blogs that offer an experienced look at the outdoors. This will be a place where you can see how it will be to start out. You will be able to see what its like to go on outdoor excursions for the first time. We will provide our experiences with each park and share helpful tips on how to make the most of it. We will also share our reviews on the type of gear we come across and equip ourselves with. We encourage you to follow along with us on our adventures!
Both of us are excited to share our journeys with you. We hope that it will encourage other people to step out of their comfort zone to experience wonderful things.