Operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area is a destination for hikers, naturalists, and schools. It is a unique 1,310-acre geological wonder where visitors can walk, hike, or take a horseback ride on a 7.5‑mile trail. Visitors can see spectacular up-tilted rock formations created by layers of sedimentary rocks and also explore a landscape of Joshua trees, California Junipers, and Pinyon Pine Woodland while observing the variety of wildlife. The nature center was remodeled in 1988 to serve as a critical educational resource to teach visitors about the sensitive habitat, local flora and fauna, and safety in the harsh extremes of the desert.
Unfortunately, on September 6, 2020, the Bobcat Fire destroyed over 30,000 acres of land, which included many parts of the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area, including the nature center. As reported in this article by Julie Drake of the Antelope Valley Press, DPR is in the process of planning for the replacement of the nature center and held three community workshops in the summer of 2022 to gather public input.
The first major deliverable of this planning project is a conceptual design of the new nature center which was developed based on community feedback. Additional work will be needed, including various technical and environmental studies, to refine the conceptual design and create a viable, appropriately-sized, and programmed project to replace the previous nature center and other related improvements that were destroyed in the Bobcat Fire. The new nature center building will address various site constraints, including the limited supply of fresh water, lack of sewer or wastewater system, and limited capacity of the existing parking lot and entry road.