Mirror Lake State Park - Wisconsin

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Park Overview

This park is named for its centerpiece, a lake which often is so calm that not a ripple marks its surface. The lake reflects a wooded shoreline with cliffs up to 50 feet high, a swimming beach, and wetlands that are home to a variety of wildlife. Just three miles from Wisconsin Dells, Mirror Lake is also close to Devil's Lake, Rocky Arbor and Buckhorn state parks.

The park's 2,200 acres has three picnic areas (one with a shelter and all with grills); wooded campsites; bike, boat, canoe, and kayak rentals; a cabin for people with disabilities; and the Seth Peterson Cottage [exit DNR] designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Only slow, no-wake boating is allowed.

Fishing

Both Mirror Lake and Dell Creek offer fishing opportunities.

Dell Creek

Dell Creek is 10.5 miles long and flows into Mirror Lake. It has cool water and adequate hiding cover for trout, but with no spawning gravel, the fishery is depended on stocking. The stream typically is stocked with 5,000 fall fingerlings (6 inches long) and 3,000 spring yearlings (8 inches long) each year. Most are brown trout.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake is a 137-acre impoundment of Dell Creek. The lake has two shallow, weedy bays; the rest of the lake occupies a narrow, sandstone bluff gorge with water depths of 10 to 14 feet. Boat, canoe and kayak rentals are available in summer.

There's a wheelchair-accessible fishing pier just north of the boat landing. Boating in the lake is slow, no-wake only.

A specially adapted kayak is available for use by people with disabilities.

The lake has largemouth bass, bluegills, northern pike, yellow perch , black crappie, pumpkinseeds, yellow and black bullheads, and walleyes.

Trails

There are about 20 miles of trails at Mirror Lake State Park for hiking, off-road biking, cross-country skiing, and more.

Nature

Mirror Lake is surrounded by pine and oak woods, and beyond there are sandy prairies and former farm fields that are now rich natural wild flowers, shrubs, and trees.

The Mirror Lake Pine Oak Forest, in the northwest corner of the park, is designated as a state natural area.

Wildlife

Many kinds of wildlife are abundant and easily observed. Others are scarce or quite shy and require careful observation techniques to be seen.

The most often seen mammals are deer, raccoons, squirrels, bats, chipmunks, and muskrats. Less often seen are beavers, mink, red foxes, cottontail rabbits, and coyotes.

The marshes, fields, open woodlands, lakeshore, and steep valleys are home for different types of bird life.

Walking quietly, stopping often, listening, and watching carefully are the best ways to view wildlife. Be sure to bring your binoculars!

Geology

The local names Dell, Dells, and Delton all come from the French dalles, meaning gorge.

Dell Creek winds its way for 25 miles through sand and hill country west of Wisconsin Dells. It begins in southern Juneau County, heads southeast into Sauk County, turns a right angle 6 miles northeast of Reedsburg, and runs northeast through Mirror Lake and Lake Delton to the Wisconsin River south of Wisconsin Dells.

Why the right angle turn? Originally, it was likely that the Wisconsin River flowed through the Baraboo Hills to the south, and that Dell Creek flowed southeast through a gap in the Baraboo Hills and joined the Wisconsin River near Baraboo.

Some10,000 to 20,000 years ago the gigantic Wisconsin Glacier covered much of our state; in Sauk County U.S. Highway 12 is very near its westernmost boundary. Dell Creek is entirely within non-glaciated country, but geologists believe that glacial outwash blocked the creek, diverting it to the northeast where it cut a new channel in which Mirror Lake and Lake Delton now lie.

The rock forming Mirror Lake's gorges is sandstone. Geologists call it Late Cambrian, formed about 500 million years ago. Its sand grains are thought to have been deposited by rivers draining into shallow inland seas. The seas retreated and the sand compacted into sandstone.

Within the last 10,000 years or so, Dell Creek cut its gorges into this thick, soft sandstone.

Camping

Mirror Lake has 151 family campsites in three separate campgorunds, plus seven group sites. The park also has an accessible cabin for people with disabilities and a rental cottage that was designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Family Campgrounds

Bluewater Bay Campground, the nearest to the park visitor center and amphitheater, has 63 sites in four loops. It has a shelter, showers, and both flush and pit toilets. A hiking trail connects the campground with the beach area.

Sandstone Campground has 68 sites, including four walk-in sites and one site that's accessible for people with disabilities. There are showers and both flush and pit toilets. It's near the boat landing, fishing pier, and beach. Twenty-one of the sites have electrical hookups.

Cliffwood Campground has 35 reservable sites, 26 of them with electricity. One of the sites is accessible for people with disabities.

Group Campsites

The seven group sites, each accommodating 20 campers, are near Bluewater Bay Campground. They're tent-only sites (no vehicles on the sites, but there are parking lots nearby). Water and pit toilets are available in the campground.

Getting There

Mirror Lake State Park is conveniently located near Interstate Highway 90-94. Exit I-90-94 to U.S. Highway 12 south of Wisconsin Dells.

Contact

Mirror Lake State Park, Delton, WI 53965

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