Devil’s Punchbowl – Menomonie, Wisconsin - Atlas Obscura

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Devil’s Punchbowl

Menomonie, Wisconsin

As the glaciers retreated out of northern Wisconsin, this unique natural wonder was crafted.  


The Devil’s Punchbowl was carved out of the sandstone that lines the Red Cedar River just outside Menomonie, Wisconsin. Featuring a wide-open area surrounded by 30-foot cliffs all around, a waterfall on the western end, a small creek running through the center, and an underground spring, this location is the perfect place for a quick trip into nature.

Currently designated a “Scientific Study Area” and owned by the West Wisconsin Land Trust, the Devil’s Punchbowl is open to the public year-round and accessible via a wooden staircase built into the side of the Punchbowl. Visitors can also take a short staircase to the top of the falls and look down into the punchbowl from above.

Originally named Black’s Ravine in reference to Samuel Black, the land’s first owner, the Punchbowl has also been known as Paradise Valley. The road leading to the Punchbowl is still named Paradise Valley. Eventually, the name changed to the Devil’s Punchbowl, most likely in reference to the “Blue Devils” mascot of the University of Wisconsin Stout in nearby Menomonie.

The Punchbowl even inspired a story in a 1913 Menomonie High School literary magazine about fairies and princesses, later remade into a very short steampunk graphic novel.

Know Before You Go

The trails are good, but require climbing multiple sets of stairs which can get slippery both in summer and winter. No rock climbing is allowed to preserve the fragile soils and plants that cover the Devil’s Punchbowl.

From Highway 29 turn left on County Road P after crossing the Red Cedar River. Turn left on 410th Street and follow for approximately two miles to a parking area on the left. 

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