Like the abandoned Zzyzx Healing Center, Lake Dolores / Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark is a fascinating abandoned location built at the site of a natural spring.
Driving back to Los Angeles after a weekend in Las Vegas, traffic had slowed to a crawl. About 20 miles east of Barstow I saw a treasure so rare and wonderful that it could have been a mirage or a hallucination brought on by the desert heat: an abandoned waterpark. It was the perfect place to wait out the traffic jam.
I crossed the vastness of the empty parking lot to a walkway surrounded by billboards and beheaded palm trees.
I passed through the gate into a bizarre and amazing world that I'd never dared to dream existed.
A world of oil changes, tune ups, skulls stenciled onto buildings,
...discarded shower curtains in empty bathrooms,
...and even hookers, apparently.
Canals with stagnant brown water snaked through the park.
Bone-dry pools languished beneath the punishing glare of the sun.
Concession stands stood empty and ransacked.
A sign once bore important information for those about to ascend the stairs to the water slides.
The scaffolding remains, but the slides were shipped off years ago to Cultus Lake Waterpark in Canada, where they would again know the joy of plunging visitors into refreshing pools of chlorinated water.
The concrete pylons that once supported a dozen or so water slides stand as monuments to happier times. This place must have been awesome in its heyday.
The top of the hill affords a very nice view.
Below, rows of water filtration tanks bake in the sunlight.
their inner and outer walls coated with graffiti.
At the far end of the park stands an old prefab structure that once served as a "County Store".
Little remains inside, except fallen ceiling panels, toppled filing cabinets, and a desk.
Lake Dolores is a 273-acre man-made lake in Newberry Springs, California, a town famous for its annual Newberry Springs Pistachio Festival. The lake is fed by the Mojave Aquifer via underground springs. It was quite dry at the time of my visit.
Local businessman Bob Byers built Lake Dolores Waterpark in the late 50s and named it after his wife. He originally meant for it to be used exclusively by his family.
In 1962 he added a campground on the adjacent lot and opened Lake Dolores to the public. Over the years the waterpark expanded with the addition of rides and other attractions.
Lake Dolores Waterpark, "The Fun Spot of The Desert!" had its heyday in the '70s and early '80s before attendance began to decline.
It featured a variety of attractions including group raft rides, bumper boats, JetSkis, high diving boards, a zip-cord ride and a massive swimming pool.
Byers sold Lake Dolores Waterpark in 1990 to an investment group who revamped it with a 1950s theme and changed the name to Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark.
Sadly, Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark remained open for only three seasons before massive debt forced its closure. A contributing factor was a $4.4 million lawsuit by an employee who became paraplegic after an accident in 1999. The investment group declared bankruptcy in 2000.
In 1999, the electronic music festival Electric Daisy Carnival was held there.
The property was returned to Dolores Byers, the original park's namesake, whose husband Bob Byers had passed away in 1996. Dolores sold Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark to another investment group in 2001 and then died a month later.
The new owners poured $400,000 worth of renovations into the park and changed the name to Discovery Waterpark. It reopened 2002, but closed again in 2004.
Since its closure, the park has been used for many purposes, including a filming location for several T.V. shows and films, art events, and music performances.
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And come back next week, when I'll share the story of another fascinating abandoned place.
BTW, if you'd like to see some pictures of Lake Dolores Waterpark in its heyday, follow this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andyroo117/sets/72157614486264219/detail/