This once-thriving waterpark operated as a campground and watersports recreation area initially known as Lake Delores from the 1960s through the 1990s, finally closing down in 2004 when someone was paralyzed in an accident on one of the slides…and has just sat there rotting in the baking desert sun ever since. It’s one of the most bizarre sights you’ll ever see — a waterpark, in the middle of one of the most barren, desolate stretches of the Mojave Desert. Who the fuck thought THAT was a good idea?! (Apparently, there is a large underground springs in the area which fed the lake…hence the name of the nearby town of Newberry Springs.)
Rechristened “Rock-A-Hoola” in an attempt at drawing in 1950s-loving Route 66 tourists, the park sits right off I-5 between Vegas and Barstow. I had driven by it a billion times over the years…each time vowing I would figure out a way to get in there. I mean, it’s so post-apocalyptic and cool!!! But the access is somewhat tricky, since the closest exit (Harvard Rd.) is a ways off, and you have to take a 2-lane frontage road to get to the park.
I finally went out there for a photo shoot in November 2013, and found the place to be just as fabulous as I’d anticipated, if not more so. Most of the water slides themselves have been sold off, so all that’s left is some spindly support poles, abandoned buildings and empty pools…covered in the most amazing graffiti you’ve ever seen. Not the usual halfwitted cholo scribblings — I’m talking pro-status graffiti, with social messages and shit. It’s incredible!!
There is a chain-link fence surrounding the park, with very infrequent “No Trespassing” signs that can easily be “accidentally” overlooked by the intrepid desert explorer. If you have 4-wheel drive, you can pretty much just drive right in and park behind one of the old buildings, then wander around at will. There doesn’t appear to be any homeless people or radioactive zombies living there…although I’ve never stayed after dark. I think there is some kind of creepy methhead caretaker who lives nearby, but I’ve done two fairly long photo shoots and he never bothered me either time. If you do see him, he could probably be bribed with $20 or a 12-pack of Mountain Dew.
The eerie beauty of this place is pretty much indescribable, so I’m only posting a few pics here. If interested, there are many more on my Facebook page and in my original blog entry describing my first foray here.
For photographers, a few samples of glamour shots that can be gotten here:
UPDATE 4/22/15: Some dimwitted asswads have since gone in and sprayed over all the cool, colorful graffiti with ugly black paint 🙁 It’s nowhere near as cool a place to shoot nowadays, and besides…I also heard they’re planning to re-open the waterpark, so there might be more
security there now. Be advised!
hey gorgeous, just by chance I happened to come across your musings in a round about way while I was looking into the burning man site. I,ll be damned , now i,m totally hooked on following your adventures! I was just in Vegas a month ago and rented a car to drive through the desert ( which I just love by the way), to San Diego.I wish I would have found you sooner so i could have visited a few of the off the beaten path places you write about. I am coming back down in September to do it again, but not sure if I want to go south through Arizona over to Cali, or north through Nevada and over to Cali. Anyway, your travels have given me some ideas, keep up the good scribbling. Any chance you might want to start doing guided tours? Peace Out.
I’ve thought about doing tours…it’s an interesting idea! Anyway, there’s cool shit in AZ and NV, and I’ll be happy to advise you. Just hit me up!
I wanted to do a photoshoot here (nothing fancy, just with some friends) and was wondering if there are any updates regarding security/gates/trespassing.
Have you been there recently?
Any news about this would be great because we were REALLY set on coming here
I have not shot there since 2013. Last I saw (driving by), all the cool colorful graffiti has been painted over with ugly black paint, and I have heard from others that it is now guarded by onsite security 🙁
luv you morongo man