This is the latest stop in the series 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity around the region to highlight.

While stories of gnomes and trolls, witches and goblins may attract some people to Devil’s Punchbowl County Park, more visitors likely show up to see the waterfall, the weeping wall, and the curving sandstone cliffs that form the punchbowl.

“Devil’s Punchbowl has been around a long time,” said Rick Remington, conservation director at Landmark Conservancy, the owner of the park. “I expect it has been used for over 100 years. It was a public place even before it was officially a public place. We don’t have statistics, but it gets a ton of use. It is a very popular site.”

Devil’s Punchbowl is a natural area preserved by the Landmark Conservancy and is free and open to the public year-round. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Devil’s Punchbowl is a natural area preserved by the Landmark Conservancy and is free and open to the public year-round. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

The park consists of three acres, most of which is the punchbowl, and visitors can view it from the top or bottom of the waterfall. The Landmark Conservancy, a nonprofit conservation organization, built wooden steps to both locations.

“It is roughly 100 steps going down to get to the valley and a little stream,” Remington said. “We also have a short stairway that allows people to get a view from the top of the punchbowl, if they don’t want to commit themselves to walking down 100 steps. It allows older people and children the opportunity to get a look, as well.”

The park can be visited in any season, and in winter, the sandstone walls often become crusted in ice flowing over the layers of rock.

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Even getting to the park is entertaining. The drive four miles southwest of Menomonie follows 410 Street, a beautiful country route that has also been labeled Wisconsin Rustic Road 89.

Adding one note to the mythical background of the Devil’s Punchbowl, the Dunn County Historical Society published a booklet titled “The Devil’s Punchbowl” featuring a fairy tale written by Mabelle Waterman at Menomonie High School in 1913. The story was discovered in the archives in 2017 and University of Wisconsin-Stout design professor Erik Evensen created custom illustrations. Copies are available at the Dunn County Historical Society.

“We hope that folks, whether they be local citizens or visitors to the area, have a safe, meaningful experience and see the value in these conservation lands,” Remington said. “This is a place where anybody can see the importance of conservation land and protected land. Whether you are 90 years old or nine years old, you are going to have a good time visiting there.”

If you go...

Name: Devil’s Punchbowl County Park

Address: 410th St, Menomonie

Phone: 715-235-8850

Hours: Dawn to dusk every day

Cost: Free