Flickr album link: Diana's Punch Bowl
Diana's Punch Bowl is also known as the Devil's Cauldron, but the lesser evil sounding name is what appears on mapping systems. For those who have never toured destinations in the central Great Basin Desert, programming the mapping system well ahead of time is the only way to ensure that there will be a usable navigational aide, since cellular service might as well be a million miles away. Smart phone mapping systems can be used, but if the program is closed or the device is powered off, the map details may be deleted. Having an active mapping system is necessary, because a wrong turn may result in burning up excess fuel. The gas stations are few and far between in the Great Basin, so fuel management can be critical when touring scenic places deep in the back country.
Diana's Punch Bowl definitely is way out in the middle of nowhere, so topping off the tank before setting sail will ensure a safe trip. A high ground clearance vehicle is best for any desert dirt road, but an average passenger car with good tires can do this trip. The Diana's Punch Bowl landmark is located next to Nevada State Highway 82, which runs between Tonopah north to U.S. Highway 50 near Eureka. SR 82 is a smooth dirt road highway that allows moderately high speeds, so the trip will not be as tedious as it may initially seem to be. There are also a few old ghost towns to experience along the way, so this trip can be turned into a full day of adventure. The Toiyabe National Forest Toquima Campground is locatted up in the mountains near Diana's Punch Bowl and this is a nice overnighter option to keep in mind. An entire day can be spent exploring the destinations along Nevada Highway 82 and this region is a good place to photograph wild horses, burros or pronghorn antelope, so be sure to pack a powerful lens for the ride.
Upon arrival, a visitor will have to open and close a cattle gate to access the foot trail that goes to the top of a small travertine hill. The top of the white color hill is where the mysterious Diana's Punch Bowl is located and the short trek is easy going. The views of the valley stretch out to the horizon from up top, while looking down will yield an interesting surprise. A deep natural hot springs depression awaits on the center of the hill, which is completely hidden when viewing from down below. The walls of this sink hole are very steep and climbing down into the cauldron is not recommended for obvious reasons. Diving into the pool is forbidden for another reason that may not be so obvious upon first glance. The water temperature in the punch bowl is about 200ºF, so one slip over the edge would likely result in death. This is the reason this landmark is also called the Devil's Cauldron and care must be taken when viewing from the rim.
There are many mysterious places to discover in the Great Basin Desert and all it takes is zooming in on a map to find unique destinations like Diana's Punch Bowl. Taken for granted, touring the Great Basin is most often a once in a lifetime journey, so charting as many points of interest along the planned touring route as possible will ensure that there will be some memories to share back home. Diana's Punch Bowl certainly is a fascinating geothermal feature and by doing a little bit of research a greater understanding of the hot water river flowing underground in this area can be attained. This boiling hot springs is definitely for your eyes only, but there are many more natural pools in this desert that offer safer temperatures. For those who plan on doing a natural hot springs tour of Nevada, Diana's Punch Bowl will definitely belong at the top of the list!
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