Purple Quartzite of Devil’s Lake State Park
Also referred to as Baraboo Quartzite
When heading to a climbing location, we typically stop to take in a view or two. A common question we hear is “what type of rock is this?” Typically, between the huffs and puffs of carrying a 40 pound bag up a steep stair master (don’t worry, your guide will do that), we give a brief but compelling tail of the rock. Since there aren’t a lot of huffs, puffs, or grunts going on while sitting here at the computer, it gives us a moment to dig a little deeper. The rock, Purple Quartzite of Devil’s Lake State Park is pretty unique.
The metamorphic rock, has been rumored to only be found in three places in the world with Devil’s Lake being the most climbable. Metamorphic rock means that it was altered from another type of rock by extreme conditions (heat, pressure, superman, etc) to become what we see currently.
Sometimes mistaken for red or pink, it is indeed, Purple. Other colors found in the park can range from white to green. Green is typically the lichen that forms on the rock. There are several areas in the park that also are tan and more textured. This is actually Sandstone. So back to that metamorphic business… Quartzite was actually Sandstone at one point. A long, long, long, lonnnnnnnnnnng time ago, the earth went through a lot of changes. There was a whole lot of pressure and a whole lot of heat and a whole lot of time. What came out of the oven was Quartzite. There was likely more sandstone in the park at that time, however much (or all) of it was underwater. Sandstone is very soft compared to quartzite. So the water washed away much of the sandstone but left the quartzite.
Next time you head to the park, try to find the patches or full climbing areas that are sandstone. They differ greatly in texture, look, feel, and climbing from the Quartzite we all know and love.