The Devil's Punch Bowl is one of many California state parks. It encompasses 1,310 acres of incredible geological features and rests at approximately 4,750 feet above sea level. To compare, Salt Lake City sits at 4,226 so depending on the time of year you visit you will want to plan accordingly for weather. You may encounter snow during the winter.
The punch bowl is surrounded by high mountain peaks that belong to the San Gabriel mountains and to me were the most impressive mountains that I've seen in Southern California so far. But what makes the area so unique is the rock formations. Similar to Vasquez Rocks to the northwest, the Devil's Punch Bowl is full of layers of rock that have been tipped on edge over time creating some impressive formations. The tan sandstone mixed with the ever strange Joshua trees and the yellowing plant life of Fall created a landscape full of contrasting colors begging to be photographed. The November temperatures (68 on the day we visited) made for an enjoyable hike at any time of the day.
Speaking of the hike, we took the one mile loop option that I foolishly thought was going to be an easy, flat trail turned out to be a little more moderate and took us almost to the bottom of the punch bowl which is about 300' deep. The trail can be slippery in places and there are some large natural stone steps and ledges that are necessary to navigate on both the decent and the ascent that could prove a little difficult for some people so know your limitations.
To me a unique thing about these state parks is that they aren't as regulated as our national parks. You have the freedom to roam, climb and explore the formations and slot canyons as much as you want, a kind of nice feeling in a world so full of rules. Of course there are risks associated with this freedom. I noticed that there are many folks that seem to be part mountain goat, climbing to some of the most precarious places they can find. Hey, more power to ya. Just be careful. Also there are a few species of rattlesnakes you need to watch out for. This is the great outdoors after all. You're in their world.
Devil's Punch Bowl