Eek! Devil’s Lake Climbing Surprises!

Eek! Yikes! Interesting Finds Climbing

and Bouldering at Devil’s Lake.

One of the best things about hanging out at Devil’s Lake State Park is the interesting array of insects, frogs, toads, and snakes we come across while guiding. Not only are these “finds” on the trails, but often on the actual climbs themselves! Climbers can be walking to their destination or reach up for that bomber hold, only to be surprised by any number of things including timber rattlers, toads, and spiders.

Not to worry, these encounters are rare and mostly harmless!

The following is a list of the few my favorite things found while guiding:

  • Timber Rattler – See where we have found these at the lake.  Last year we had several sightings along the hiking trails to climbing locations!  With their loud rattler, though shy (thanks goodness!), you’ll hear them.
  • Frogs and Toads – The perimeter of the lake, the nearing ponds, and sometimes, in the cracks of climbs!
  • Walking Stick – Check the trees around the park.  Keep your eyes peeled, they can be tricky to spot since they look, well, like a stick.
  • Millipedes and Centipedes – These guys are all over Devil’s Lake State Park! Freaky at first, but not harmful. If seen on the trails, their favorite past-time is being saved and not stepped on.
  • wolf spiderWolf Spider – We see these guys on the side of the rocks.  Not often, luckily. They never fail to be a freaky sighting.

The Nature Center, located off the Devil’s Lake’s North Entrance offers a wealth of information and examples of wildlife at the lake, as well as a history of the lake and area. It’s well worth a visit. For information about hours visit their website.

Come out climb with us and let’s see what we can find!

Legend and Folklore of the Devil’s Lake Monster

"Plesiosaurus 3DB" by Creator:Dmitry Bogdanov - Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Plesiosaurus 3DB” by Dmitry Bogdanov – Link

Once our clients are geared up for rock climbing, we hike to the crag. To pass the time, we share a bit about the history of the lake, rock, and answer questions.  A popular question is:  Why is it named Devil’s Lake?

The answer comes in many forms including the Legend and Folklore of the Devil’s Lake Monster passed down for years. The Nakota Sioux and Ho-Chunk tribes used Devil’s Lake and Devil’s Lake State Park area, as a gathering place for centuries. The Ho-Chunk named the lake Day-wa-kun-chunk (or “Sacred Lake”) and the Nakota called it Minne-wau-ken (”Bad Spirit” or “Mystery Lake”).

How did it come to have such a reputation?

Years ago, there were reports of octopus-like sea creatures in the lake and Hairy Hominids (Big Foot) on land.  My personal favorite story comes from the Nakota Sioux:

They claim that an expedition of young warriors and their leader were canoeing late at night.  The lake was blackened and the full moon reflected off the water. An octopus-like creature with tentacles ripped through the water and tipped over the canoes.  As the warriors screamed, others witnessed this horrible scene on the shore.  All were lost.

The Nakota also report seeing a huge, fish like creature.  The tribe described the large creature as having a long neck, small head and wide body.

To pay tribute to the creature, the Nakota held a festival every year. The tradition carries through to this day.  Animals are no longer sacrificed (as they once were) – instead, it’s more of a picnic and celebration.

It’s very possible that this creature existed, say researchers.  The Nakota description resembles the fresh water plesiosaur that found its way into the lake after the last Ice Age. Whatever the Devil’s Lake Monster is, or was, there haven’t been any confirmed sightings of the creature for some time!

If you would like to read more, here are some interesting reads and our references!