Devils Lake - worth every moment

Originally published in June, 2011.

Last week, some co-workers and I had the opportunity to spend two days in Devils Lake and in short: those two days went far too fast.  We had an exclusive aerial tour of the lake, visited Sullys Hill, the Fort Totten State Historic Site, Spirit Lake Casino and the Lake Region Heritage Center.  We ate well (thank you Woodland Resort), slept well (thank you Fireside Inn) did a bit of shopping and got to go FISHING. Our fabulous guides, Suzie and Katie from the Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, asked each person in our group what their favorite thing was on the trip and they heard all experiences echoed back.  Devils Lake has a reputation for being one of the best walleye, pike and perch fisheries in the U.S.  It has a mystique, being one of the largest natural lakes in the nation that in the last 20 years has risen nearly 30-feet and is now a 3,810 square-mile basin.  Although known for fish and water - Devils Lake has many cool visitor experiences. We did not have the time to get everywhere, nor did we have a lot of time to spend at each location.  But what we got to do was fun!  Here's a glimpse at our experiences:

  1. Sullys Hill National Game Preserve is a birders paradise with numerous viewing stations and opportunity for photography.  Portions of the auto tour are currently closed due to the high water, but trails are open including a 2,000-foot wheelchair accessible trail.  The new visitors center is currently open by appointment.  Just call ahead to make arrangements.
  2. Fort Totten State Historic Site was a military post, a boarding school, a Native American health care facility and a reservation school and visitors can explore the grounds and all of those unique stories.  A beautiful new exhibit in the visitors center has recently opened.
  3. The Lake Region Heritage Center is a gem - there's a perfectly preserved federal courtroom, a U.S. marshall's office complete with "holding cell," a reassembled rural church, a barbershop, a dentist office, displays of Native American culture and much more.  When visiting "Lil's room" be sure to ask about the ghost story!!
  4. The fishing!!!  Seven of us split up between two boats and two top-secret locations.  In our 3 hours on the water we caught two limits of walleyes and caught-released countless northern pike.  Our guide, Jason Mitchell, had to practically force us off the water.  Check out these "smiles"!

There is road construction on several routes in and around Devils Lake.  Visitors should be prepared for delays and are welcome to check road reports with the Dept. of TransportationGrahams Island State Park is open for camping, but the road to Grahams Island may be subject to closing.  Visitors are reminded just to plan ahead as to not let anything disrupt an awesome experience.