Rock-A-Hoola: water park in stasis

Rock-A-HoolaBoing Boing posts about a run-down kiddie amusement park in Egypt and I was reminded about Rock-A-Hoola.

Rock-A-Hoola is (was?) a mostly closed-but-not-quite-totally-abandoned water park out in the Mojave Desert in Newberry Springs, CA. The park has been kicking around irregularly since at least the early-70s – I remember ads for Lake Dolores (as it was known back then) airing on KTLA in the cheap post-midnight airspace alongside Truckmaster School Of Trucking and Cal Worthington. Presumably the idea was for it to be a tourist/camping stopover on the road between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. I couldn’t imagine anyone being excited to to there – it’s too far for a day trip from LA and not much there to give you a reason to stay. I suppose there’s always the Vegas crowd, but it seem like they always REALLY want to get to Vegas.

Anyway, I snagged some photos of the place in October 2003. The main water slide part of the park was fenced off (and patrolled by dogs) but I got some pictures of the surrounding facilities. I still have to question the long-term viability of a water park in an area with little water and abundant evaporation, but that’s not stopping folks from dreaming.

Lake Dolores / Rock-A-Hoola on Wikipedia
Rock-A-Hoola in better days.

258 thoughts on “Rock-A-Hoola: water park in stasis

  1. Wow, Thats crazy beat to death huh? Wow, sounds like for the most part it was a good time, and a bit dangerous. For the most part a family place with a grown up night life. Thanks for the info, if you remember any others please feel free to share, I am sure everyone would love to hear them. Thanks again

  2. i remember two friends and i took out my landcruiser and went offroading behing LD one afternoon. what a blast! we were young and invincible. late night cooler raids were a norm for us when out food and beers ran out. we were too reckless now that i look back.

  3. Does anyone have a name and number where I can reach the owner of this property?? I am interested in acquiring anything I can use on my ranch in Cima before everything is destroyed. I do not want to break in or vandalized this historical site I want to go thru the proper channels.

    Thanks
    Morgan
    mpaprdoc@yahoo.com or 702-218-7436

  4. Didn’t Rob Dyrdek and Big Black Skate the water park for Drama’s 21’st b-day on an episode of rob and big.

  5. Just went by there today to get some pictures. The place was wide open… no security personnel or guard dogs to be seen. One could freely walk into the park and most of the buildings, like the old arcade, restrooms, locker rooms, ticket and admin offices, etc.

    As has been mentioned previously, the slides themselves have been dismantled. The pathways to the slides and some of the structures that used to hold the slides up do remain.

    The area is littered with leaves, tree branches, and other stuff such as old innertubes, computer equipment, files, furniture and assorted junk. There were no video games at all inside the arcade.

    –Jack

  6. My Fellow Lake Dolorians,

    I believe that part of our purpose on this planet is to make and share great and happy memories. If Lake Dolores had never existed, I would have far fewer of those wonderful memories. I believe that’s the case with many of you, as well.

    To all of you who have posted here (EXCEPT FOR “Miss Downer/No-Responsibility Michelle” who says she busted-out her teeth at the park) …Thank you for sharing your awesome words, memories, and photos about a truly magical place.

    To Heather, Nichole, Amy, and Millie… Thank you for your family — and the memories that they were instrumental in bringing to us.

    To JR, RPhoto, and Andy… Thank you for the great memory-sparking and enlightening photos.

    To Ken, Thank you for starting that user-group. Killer idea. I joined tonite, and I also put a link to it on the Lake Delores Wikipedia Site which I started a couple of years ago. I hope most everyone who visits here will eventually join-up and use it.

    To Troy, Eugene, and Jason… Thank you for wanting to bring Lake Dolores back on some level.
    Very noble — as well as a wise business decision. If executed properly, the potential is more than there.

    To Roller-derby… Thanks — because if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be watching the L.A. Thunderbirds as a small child, only to see my first Lake Dolores ad, opening the door for me to endlessly badger my parents to take me out to “The fun spot of the desert” (they grew to Love the park as much as I).

    And Especially to Bob and Dee Byers… a billion-and-one Thank You’s. The happiness and joy that you brought to countless thousands puts you both in the rarest of company.

    And to Michelle (Who “busted out” her teeth at the park) …If Lake Dolores was truly at fault for what happened to you, then by the logic of sheer numbers the same thing would have happened to thousands of people. Well — guess what? NEWSFLASH — IT DIDN’T. Unfortunately, for the rest of us in this life — there’s at least one of you in every crowd. I severely doubt that this was the ONLY thing that has ever happened to you that “shouldn’t of”. Should we all hate Disneyland as well, because of all the mishaps that have occurred in that park over the years? My best advice to you is to STRONGLY CONSIDER INTENSIVE PSYCHOTHERAPY. You really ought to think about shedding your resentment and your shirking of responsibility issues. You really should — your day-to-day life would be much more gratifying. Trust me. Been there.

    As for why this thread means so much to me? Well, I spent my happiest summers from the time that I was a small child on through to when I was a young adult at Lake Dolores. To me, it was the coolest, happiest, most magical place on earth. Even a step above Disneyland, Knotts, or Magic Mountain. So, Thanks again for the great words and the rekindling of awesome memories.

    This world is a better place because Lake Dolores existed. Period. If Heaven is truly happy, fun, and joyous — then somewhere up there, there must be a Lake Dolores. Most definitely being run by Bob and Dee.

    Happy Memories to all…

    PS
    Please feel free to visit, as well as contribute information to the Lake Dolores Wikipedia Site:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Dolores

  7. Hi All,

    I have a very strong interest in the history of this park and am trying to get in touch with the Byers and Christensen families to interview them for a story I am putting together. I see that several of the family members are posting here but I have had no luck reaching any of them. Can Meagan, Nicole, Justin, Heather, Amy, Marguerite or anyone else with contact information email me? I would be so grateful. Thanks!

    dawn@myviplist.com

  8. Wasn’t there another one, a little smaller than Lake Dolores and closer to LA with the same kind of stuff? Trapezes, etc.? I totally remember the Lake Dolores ads, but I thought there was another place at the same time…

  9. Hey, Anonymous…

    You might be thinking about “Soledad Sands” out toward the Acton/Palmdale area in Soledad Canyon?

    I don’t remember any Trapezes, and the grounds were pretty large, however. I believe the park also contained the “World’s Largest Pool” for a time, as well.

  10. There was big plans for this place.

    Im not going to say where, but somewhere pretty well hidden I found PLENTY of plans to expand the park even more along with tons of Business cards for the CEO “Terry C”

    I took tons of pics of these plans, It was crazy to think how huge this place could have been if the plans drawn up by ” White Water ” would have gone through.

    Until then, I look forward to spending a few more moonlit nights @ Lake D

  11. Hello, my friends and i just took a visit to the park.. we went into one of the bathrooms and we found old 1970s pictures that all said to my favorite uncle ricky… along with scattered random kids toys everywhere.. this was really scary.. does anyone no about uncle ricky?

  12. Ken and all, go to the facebook address above and I will post all ORIGINAL Lake Delores photos

  13. If Lake Dolores is indeed the first waterpark, as wickipedia has indicated, it would qualify for a State or National Historic Marker. Just an idea for the fans. Millie

  14. Thanks for the great idea, Millie. As I was building the Lake Dolores Wikipedia page, and following a hunch — I performed about thirty hours of research on that possibility. I still look into that very issue from time-to-time. As of yet and for the life of me, I can’t find any record whatsoever of an earlier Waterpark of any type, anywhere.

    Dareski3D

  15. Hey Dareski,
    I am producing a documentary about the water park and I would love to talk to you about being interviewed. You seem to know a lot about it and I’d like to involve you if you’re interested. Feel free to contact me at admin@waterparkdoc.com. Thanks!

    dawn

  16. Hey Bro,

    awesom pics. I will email the ones I have to you if you don’t mind posting them to your website. Hope you and the gang are doing well. Miss the old lake days. I always wanted to start another Lake Dolores here in Montana. Watcha think? probably couldn’t afford the insurance now a days. Would be fun though.

    Love & Miss Ya Lots
    Your big sis Penny

  17. Hey Dawn,

    Just saw your above post. Thanks for caring about such a great and special place. You Seriously Rock!!!

    I just sent an email your way, and I’m Looking forward to speaking with you at your convenience.

    Take care…

    Dareski

  18. Hey guys!

    The First Annual Lake Dolores/Rock A Hoola Water Park Reunion Party is happening on August 15th at 1:00p. I’m still nailing down a location, but it will be held at a park in the Los Angeles area. For more information go to http://www.caliwaterpark.com.

    Thanks!
    Dawn Fields, Documentary Producer
    “Slippin’ And Slidin’:America’s First Water Park
    admin@caliwaterpark.com

  19. I went by this morning to lake dolores alot of worked has adapted, they have flatened a huge section. big heavy machinery and trash bins. I am going to take pictures on my venture back in 2 weeks. Even the offramp is closed with barracades

  20. I’ve enjoyed reading your comments and memories about the water park. I work with Huell Howser on PBS and we’re looking into doing a show on Lake Delores. I’m really excited to see the discussion here among the park’s fans and I’m hoping to hear from anyone who has old photos, videos, or stories they might be able to tell Huell, or perhaps go on camera. Hit me up at RMorris@kcet.org if you’d like to help out!

    Ryan

  21. Does anyone know how to contact Heather? I got an email from Huell Howser’s office and he would like to do a segement on Rock-A-Hula. I thought Heather might be the person he could contact. I suppose anyone with enough information might be able to help them. If Heather reads this I and Martha set up BNSF parties with her and would like to here from her, email hodkd@yahoo.com.

    Here is Huell’s contact information.

    We’re primarily looking for photos or videos of Rock-A-Hoola when it was in use. This could include family videos, videos of the park being built… pretty much anything. I’m also looking for a copy of the park’s TV commercials but that’s a longshot.

    Let me know if you can help us out! We think it’s a great story and Huell is looking forward to filming it.

    Thanks in advance,

    Ryan Morris
    Huell Howser Productions
    323-219-4451 – cell
    RMorris@kcet.org

  22. I got tons of old photos of lake dolroes i posted them up in a blog i have. Im the #1 fan. Just email me at kmfdm702@aol.com because i’m having problems cut, copy and pasting,,,sorry..just email me and I will show you the page.

    -ron

  23. Hey Ryan,

    I have interviewed Heather and her sister Kelly who are both lovely and charming women. I would be happy to help you get in touch with them.

    Dawn

  24. FYI, the Reunion has been postponed because the Byers family couldn’t make that date afterall. I’ll be rescheduling in the next month or so.

  25. Great Stories and memories.
    I Have a buyer and need to get in touch with current ownership. Can anyone help me?

    Alan
    Crissman Commercial Services

  26. Hi Alan,

    It was great speaking with you yesterday. I gave your information to the owners and they should be calling you today. Good luck!

  27. I can’t wait untill the documentary is published on PBS or whatever, it will be something I am really gonna look foward tooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I need to know when and what channel and willing to buy the dvd or blue ray..make it a few copies!!! WOOOOP………….

  28. That was me. :-)

    I got access to that 1998 commercial through the interviews I’ve conducted for the documentary. More really cool stuff to come. For now you can check out http://www.desertwaterpark.com where we’ve started making a collection of all the photos to date. I have a lot more photos and videos that I will be scanning and adding in the next few days.

  29. I think I’ve found it. Just got to get my hands on it before i post it. Hey Ron, can you join my new site and post your photos? It’s hard for me to do it for you since you loaded them up on meetup.com. Thanks!

    Dawn

    everyone should sign up at http://www.desertwaterpark.com. I’d like it to be the main hub.

  30. Yes i remember that place i was pretty young and remember what a pain in tha ass it was for me to reach out for the trapez hoping i would not fall off the platform. then if you didnt let go in time you would rack your nuts in the water. and yes the metal v standup slide was a blast. by the way i remember it was fourth of july wich ment fire work fights and they would lock the gates and nobody could come in or out after a certan time

  31. I think it should be moved closer to the Calico Ghost Town–really, not far up the road. It would also be close to the campground (KOA or whatever). That way, people camping could easily go to both places. It would be more likely to get customers.

  32. My family spent many summer days at LD, 1975-1980. I remember how crazy fun it was. Truely the original “Water Park”. It’s a shame that it closed and remains just a memory. My cousins and I still talk about the times spent there and the wild times we had. Thanks for the bog, posts and pictures! I will share with my family at the next gathering.

  33. I live in Vegas and have passed the ruins of this place so many times. I always wondered what it was doing out in the middle of nowhere. I figured that it was probably some “fart in a space suit” idea that was short lived sometime in the ’90s. I had no idea of how big it was, how many years it was in operation, or that it really was the ultimate, fun ’80s waterpark.

    I can only imagine what kind of “totally awesome, super-radical” BLAST it was back then. As kids, we got to go to “Clovis Lakes” a few times (remember that one) and my memories of it are still completely vivid and stand out as being some of the best times of my youth. I can only dream of how cool THIS place was.

    Even if the place were to open again some day, the hoodrats of today would suck all of the fun out of it. These really are ruins of a bygone era.

    :_(

    I MUST explore this place!

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