Dianas Punchbowl, known by some as the Devils Cauldron, is a geothermal feature in a secluded but beautiful area of central Nevada's Monitor Valley. While the punchbowl itself is far too hot to soak in, streams flowing out may be dammed into soakable pools as an added bonus.
The feature is called a punchbowl due to its cup-shaped sheer-walled depression into a travertine mound that rises 75 feet above the level valley floor of Monitor Valley. The top of Dianas Punchbowl stretches about 50 feet across, while the base is 600 feet in diameter and filled by a steaming emerald pool of hot water. Temperatures register between 140 and 180 degrees.
A stream flows out from the cauldron to the south side of the travertine mound into the basin, and there are opportunities to soak in white mud-bottomed pools created from efforts to dam up the creek flow. Pool temperatures and depth vary in according to where they lie in relation to the springs, but the water temperatures begin at around 110 degrees and cool from there as they flow into the basin. Agitating the silty creek bottom tends to release a slightly odorous smell.
Soakable pools are along the southeast base of the mound, though a dirt road to access them circles to the north side of the mound. Where the road ends, trace the stream about 100 yards further south to reach the first pool. The pool at the bottom of the punchbowl remains too hot and inaccessible due to the sheer walls of the cavern.
Though a visit to Dianas Punchbowl is well worthwhile to see such an extraordinary and unique feature in the center of an otherwise monotone valley, the bathing opportunities might be more novel than comfortable. Access to Dianas Punchbowl is down a 35-mile gravel road that is generally manageable for all passenger vehicles, but it can become extremely muddy in wet conditions. Enter through a gate and make sure to close that gate behind you. The springs and cauldron are on private property, so please be respectful.
The nearest water or services of any kind are located in the towns of Austin or Eureka, both about 70 miles away, so come prepared. And be extremely careful when driving or bringing dogs to the area.