This place is to be respected and hiked with caution, especially, especially with children. It's surprising to me how there is no railings on top of the cliffs but it is an "at your own risk hiking experience." Not wise to let kids run ahead of you on the bluffs... I can only imagine the accidents and deaths that have occurred due to negligence and stupidity. Seeing a group of guys sitting on a cliff edge drinking = complete idiots and in my opinion should be kicked off the park just for being so stupid. Why this place isn't patrolled for the idiots that free climb etc.. and parents that let their kids peer over the edges is unclear to me. Other than the few OMG situations i've seen -- Devils lake is ..
very beautiful, be smart, keep your kids close and enjoy this spiritual awesome place.
Don't go here during any kind of National Scouting Jamboree - you will be overrun by munchkins! (Not kidding!!!)
Have had these charming children toss rocks down the cliffs, nearly hitting us as we were climbing. Don't think they even thought about the possibility that people were below them. Believe me, they sure thought about it after we yelled at them.
Each year, one or more people die at this park. Usually they fall off the cliff edge.
A friend of mine witnessed 2 deaths one year. One was a child who had just tried climbing and thought he was invincible and didn't need a rope after his first success -- and whose parents didn't watch him carefully. He split his stomache open on the rocks falling from the cliff, and she helped carry him to a helicopter, holding his guts in place. He later died in hospital. The other was a 'climber' who had learned 'everything' by climbing once at the gym. He didn't set up his top rope properly, and backed off the cliff and everything pulled out and he fell to his instant death with a sickening thud.
I witnessed a near-accident as a 'charming' family 'encouraged' their 2 young (8/9?) children to 'rappel' off the edge of a cliff. The kids were crying and scared and were being yelled at by their parents. I noticed that their rope was at least a good 15 feet from touching the ground! I shouted up to them to warn them over and over. They finally paid attention to me, and wordlessly pulled up their ropes. Later I saw them still yelling at their kids to rappel down a shorter set of cliffs. Never thanked me for saving their kids from at the very least, a set of broken limbs.
The Basalt rock also becomes VERY slippery (like glass) when it gets wet - so avoid steep hikes, cliff edges and unroped climbs when it's raining.
The State Park wardens have hand-outs for rock climbers. Get them when you arrive. They list the locations of emergency gear that can be used to carry out injured climbers and emergency phone numbers. Also beware that cell phones do NOT work in this park (bad reception) and you need to use a pay phone, which is a long hike down from the cliffs.