This post is in partnership with North Dakota Tourism.
Devils Lake, North Dakota has been on my radar for a while now. Year after year, friends and acquaintances have mentioned or posted something on social media about their latest fishing or ice fishing trip to the big lake. I’m super excited to share all about our recent summer getaway and partnership with North Dakota Tourism. Devils Lake is perfect for any outdoor-loving family and it has a little bit of everything from hiking to sight-seeing, culinary flair and of course – fishing.
We visited Devils Lake in mid-August. It’s a fairly easy 6-hour drive from where we are in the Twin Cities. We brought Harlan along with us for this trip and left Juniper with my parents, mainly because we weren’t sure how we’d fish with Juni if conditions were choppy. Along with our travel essentials, we packed Harlan’s life jacket, some snacks and toys and crossed our fingers all would go smooth sailing when we fish! More on that below.
Day 1 – Woodland Resort
We rolled into Devils Lake on a Friday afternoon. We checked into Woodland Resort which was a popular recommendation. The staff was attentive and made us feel welcome. The check-in area of the resort is also the bait shop with fishing gear and snacks.
Our lodge suite was spacious with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, living room and a balcony that overlooks Devils Lake. We spent some time exploring the grounds and hanging out at the sand beach and checked out the restaurant and bar onsite, Proz Lakeside. Woodland Resort is the perfect resort for folks who love to fish. The kitchen is stocked with all the necessities to clean and cook your catch. There’s even an outdoor deep fryer stocked with oil just waiting for a fish to be fried.
On night one, we had dinner at Old Main Street Cafe in the heart of downtown Devils Lake. It wasn’t too busy and we were able to get seated right away. Our waitress took great care of us. We thoroughly enjoyed our homemade pies and had a great view of downtown from our upstairs window. It’s a quaint little spot with some interesting historic photos and memorabilia. I recommend checking it out and be sure to grab a pie while you’re there!
Day 2 – Fishing On Devils Lake
On the morning of our Devils Lake fishing day, there was definitely a silver lining to the windy and wavy conditions on the lake. We all got to sleep in! We didn’t have to meet our guide Cap. Kurt Grable over at Perch Eyes Guide Service until 9 a.m. which was perfect for our sleep-loving family. Conditions improved quite a bit by the time we hit the water.
We met Kurt near the landing not too far from Perch Eyes in Minnewaukan, North Dakota. He was so sweet with Harlan and understood safety and caution was important to us with the condition on the lake. We started off in a shallower area where we were protected from the wind, but no nibbles. Our second spot was a different story. We caught most of our walleye on slip bobbers with crawlers – back to the basics, but it worked like a charm! Walleye were anywhere from 12 to 16 inches – definitely good eaters. I even landed a nice northern pike which was a fun catch. We ended the day while trolling in deeper water and caught our limit. Woohoo! Kurt cleaned our fish and sent us home with some delicious, fresh walleye.
Harlan lasted a full five hours on the boat. He even reeled in a couple of walleye and shared snacks with the whole crew – mom, dad and Cap. Kurt. Overall, we were happy with the experience we had on the famous Devils Lake and even more excited for the fish fry dinner ahead. Thanks, Kurt and Perch Eyes Guide Service!
Day 2 – Continued, White Horse Hill National Game Preserve
After getting off the lake a little later than planned, we had a quick lunch on our resort balcony with a to-go order from Proz Lakeside next door. Harlan took a nap and we really didn’t think we’d have time to visit White Horse Hill National Game Preserve, but we somehow made it happen and I’m so glad we did! White Horse Hill National Game Preserve is just 10 miles south of the city of Devils Lake. This wildlife preserve is perfect for families with young kids or people who need accessible options because you have the choice of hiking or staying in your car while driving through the preserve – or both!
We hiked up a long set of stairs to an observation deck that overlooked the 1,674 acres of prairie and forested hills. It was an easy hike but still a fairly good workout that led to a gorgeous panoramic view of the preserve. As we continued driving, we spotted the cutest little prairie dogs. They stayed still long enough for me to snap a few photos. Then we continued our drive in search of elk. The first two were very easy to spot since a few other cars had stopped to take a gander. The second two with gigantic antlers were camouflaged very well and Nick was able to spot them. We stopped and observed them for a while. They look pretty content with just sitting low in the midst of foliage. All in all, the 4-mile wildlife drive was a photographer’s dream come true.
On our way back, we stopped by The Ranch Steakhouse in Devils Lake. We actually tried going there the first day but it was the hot spot in town. I highly recommend getting there really early or on the later side of dinner since they don’t take reservations. It is so worth it! The food and service were topnotch! It reminds me of a Wisconsin supper club. We started off with the most delicious, warm, crisp, airy popovers followed by the sushi of the day, an excellent chicken truffle pot pie and brownie a la mode and New York cheesecake for dessert. I would definitely go there again.
Day 3 – Grahams Island State Park
On our third and final day, we visited Grahams Island State Park. Unfortunately, our visit was brief due to the wind and rain. Grahams Island State Park is located on Devils Lake and it’s known to host many national and regional fishing tournaments. After our brief tour, it was pretty clear the state park caters to anglers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. There are camping cabins, modern campsites with full hookups, primitive campsites, a bait shop, four-land boat ramp and a fish cleaning station.
There’s plenty of other outdoor opportunities including a beach for swimming, picnic shelters and grilling area, hiking trails, the Sivert Thompson Activity Center – and during the winter time, more than three miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, places to snowshoe and ice fishing.
We ended our trip to Devils Lake with lunch at Charras & Tequila, highly recommended by locals. Can’t go wrong with fajitas, burritos, chips and salsa and margaritas!
Whether you’re looking for an experience in the outdoors and nature, recreation, history and culture, attractions, art or simply want to discover some local flair in a brand new city, you can find your next legendary adventure in North Dakota and be sure to add Devils Lake to the bucket list. I’m glad to finally be able to check that one off the list and hope to visit again during ice fishing season.