Climbing the Cheese

Devil's Lake State Park, Wisconsin

Centered around an ancient glacier-scoured valley, this 10,000-acre park lies roughly 3.5 hours from both Minneapolis and Chicago, which means crowds in summer. But most activity revolves around the 360-acre lake, leaving some of the Midwest's best bouldering and trad climbing free for the taking. Skip the east bluff of the lake, which attracts the most climbers, and hike half a mile up the West Bluff Trail from the park headquarters. The wall below is home to more than a dozen 5.4-plus routes, the most challenging area being Prospect Point Rampart, a 100-foot quartzite cliff. Top roping is the norm, so it's perfect for all abilities, and the Chicago Mountaineering Club, which has an outpost in the park during the summer, offers free group climbs (

EXPENSE REPORT Two nights at the Thunder Valley Bed and Breakfast, in nearby Wisconsin Dells ( $200. Parking in Devil's Lake State Park: $20 for two days. Two BLT sandwiches at Café 106, in Baraboo ( $14. Two burgers and two beers at Baraboo's Monk's Bar and Grill ( $20. Two pasta dinners at the High Rock Café, in Wisconsin Dells ( $30. Total: $284

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