After our first night watching wild burros come into drink from Spencer’s Hot Springs, where we had gone for a soak, we dedicated the next couple of days to exploring central Nevada.
The first area of interest we went searching for was Diana’s Punchbowl, also known as the Devil’s Cauldron.
Continuing along the same dirt road past Spencer’s Hot Springs down into the Monitor Valley and through the Monitor Ranch then about 15 more miles, you come across this geological phenomenon.
From the road, you’d never guess it was there.
Atop what looks like another hill in the rolling landscape, is what looks like a volcano once you approach it. In fact, we drove to the top of the mound, thinking we might be in the wrong spot until we got out and walked around.
We nearly stepped right off the edge into the crater at the center of the hill. Down nearly 90-degree angles of rock walls was a pool of what we were told was scalding hot water.
Graffiti near the bottom of the crater was proof at least one person was willing and able to descend the nearly sheer rock faces then scale back out — at least I assume they got out, who knows what’s at the bottom of that pool.
I wasn’t willing to find out for myself.
We hiked around the dome a little, following advice we’d been given on a brochure to pay special attention to the south side. It advised letting kids play in the area.
Our time there was cut short, however, once we came upon a pile of snake skins. Seemed like an odd playground for children.
On our way back, we looked at Toquima Cave, which I’m sure was worth the hike and reportedly had ancient carvings visible at the mouth, but we didn’t climb to the top.
We ended our evening back at the castle west of Austin. We climbed to the roof to watch the stars blink in the open Nevada sky.
The next morning, we left for our next adventure but naturally feeling more regal after our stay at the Paradise Ranch Castle.
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.