When I think of Lake Dolores Waterpark, also known as Rock-a-hoola Waterpark, I always envision this weird-ass fantasy of Charles Manson wearing checkered Vans and a Thrasher t-shirt skating down what use to be the lazy river. Maybe it has to do with the fact the waterpark, now abandoned, sits in the Mojave Desert — similar terrain to the lunatic's old stomping grounds of Death Valley.
The park was built in the '50s for private use by the owner and his family, however its peak came in the early '60s through to the '70s when it was finally open to the public. It closed in the summer of 2004.
When I first drove past it four years ago in 2013, there was a massive yellow smiley face on a billboard made of chipped paint. It looked like an acid trip. Most of it is trashed now, run through by vandals and the desert's harsh conditions; or by hungover victims of Vegas looking for solace inside of its broken chain-link fence.
The park went through multiple makeovers and owners in its prime. Lake Dolores was even resurrected in the '90s, with bright colors, weird looking structures and crazy rides Californians enjoyed through the years (see video below).
Over the years of abandon, the park has been stripped raw of certain things that gave it its previous shine. A manmade lake sits dry next to the lot. I was dying to see a vending machine with some old school pop, but most of the memorabilia had been looted over the years. A few slides remain, but mostly just the buildings, palm trees and concrete pools.
What makes this place special is that it has become a revolving gallery of art. The park is constantly changing to this day. In 2013, TrusoCorp, a group of artists, traveled from New York City to “bomb” the theme park — aka decorate it in colorful paint and messages. Since, artists from all over have been leaving their mark for years.
The fate of the park remains unknown. Though I hope it sticks around, or better yet, becomes active again with art for all.