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Devils Lake – worth every moment

15 Jun

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.

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One response to “Devils Lake – worth every moment

  1. Rene'e Balek DuGal

    June 16, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    How fun to read how much the group enjoyed their short trip to Devil’s Lake! Although I was born in Great Falls, MT in 1951, my parents and their entire families were from the Devil’s Lake area (Lawton, Brocket, Lakota, Park River, Lankin etc) from before 1900 to present day. I lived there as a child on my Grandpa’s dairy farm off and on until 1964. I ice skated on Devil’s Lake the winter of 1963-64. The lake never was terribly large. It stayed basically the same through all of my growing up years and visits there.

    I remember smiling and shaking my head whenever I mentioned to anyone that my family was from North Dakota and how beautiful it is. They could only imagine the BRRRR cold winters and the “boreing” miles of flat land.

    Well they had never been to Fort Totten which, by the way, had a huge ski jump, Indian powwows and Sully’s Hill with a small lake!! We spent a wonderful 4th of July there. They had never climbed to the top of Devil’s Heart and enjoyed the beautiful views all around. And, no, it WASN’T flat!

    Anyway, I just thought people should realize that the lake itself is no longer that somewhat large lake!! I kept up with the news of its growing and growing and taking over farms and towns because it has no outlet! But I do not remember ever any of my family going to fish for walleye at “The Lake” and they most certainly would have had there been any!

    The Spirit Lake people are still there and now have a wonderful resort/casino. It was really different driving a small highway across a finger of the lake to get to the city of Devil’s Lake which was never there before. They even have an airport! My how time flies, land changes but the people are as warm and friendly (the food as scrumptious) and a piece of my heart still lingers.

     

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