Monday, January 7, 2013

Another Desert Oddity - Post Apocalyptic Water Park

I said I'd be back! I usually don't do very large or long posts, but I figured I'd come back with a bang. These photos (except for three) were taken a few weeks ago when my wife and I drove to L.V. to celebrate our anniversary.  Well, here goes...
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You all know that I love to find odd things that can only exist in the desert and then show them to you. Here's another!

Lake Delores Resort, AKA Rock-A-Holla Water Park, AKA Discovery Water Park, was America's first water park and opened up in 1962 and closed around 2001. It had a lake (from underground water), go karts, motel, RV park, jet skis and boating. A lot of money was sunk into this place. One BIG problem though! It's in the middle of the Mojave Desert. No matter how much money they sunk into it and how much they added to it; it was STILL in the middle of the desert. Just like most failed enterprises in the desert, it was closed and simply left there to rot. There is currently a group looking into reopening the place. The new name would be Oasis Lake Dolores (I think). I hope it works out for them. This old video is three minutes long, but it's worth watching at least part of it to get the feeling of what the park once was. Also, it's a great setup for my photos (below).  I really wish I could have posted this for the recent "Choose Your Own Apocalypse" blogfest  at my friend Chuck's great Apocalypse Now blog, because this place really does look like a post apocalyptic theme park. The only thing missing was the zombies... 

If the middle start button doesn't work, please use the start button in lower left corner. 

"Mily fun!" I'm sure some of you have seen this sign while driving across the desert from Southern California to Las Vegas (or the other way around.).


The next exit that the sign offered was a preview of things to come. I've driven past here many times and this place hasn't been open for many years.

A mile or so down the road is this monument to desert aspiration, failure and heartbreak.  It used to be a real estate office.

This water tank/coke advertisement used to be very brightly painted. Even if this photo wasn't B&W, the tank would be...

This was the vehicle gate to the resort. It leads to a huge dirt parking lot and the pedestrian entrance.

Circa 1977 (photo from Oasis Lake Dolores)

December 11, 2012.  I didn't even need a ticket to get in! I was the only person there that day. Actually, my wife was there also, but she followed me in the truck.

There must have been a mile of these slow moving "rivers." (photo from Oasis Lake Dolores)


Same view (a little closer to the turn though). 

There were several big water slides that came down this hill.  You can see by all the poles stuck in concrete that there was sometimes long lines to get up there.


Several of the small slides are still in place. The plywood ramp means that there have been skateboarders here at some point. No homeless folks here though.










There wasn't much graffiti, but most of what was there, was pretty interesting. 

I would have done a lot more in B&W, but then you wouldn't have seen just how colorful the place still is.














Something to eat?







Fountain behind the entrance (photo from Oasis Lake Dolores)


Here's the fountain today



I love finding these places and I'm usually more than content to let the desert slowly take them back. This place did pretty well for quite a while, but then water parks started opening up all over the southwest and this one lost much of it's business.  Now, many of the water parks have closed and the group looking at reopening this place, just might have a good shot if they decide to do so.  If they don't open it up again, I'll be stopping by whenever we pass this way. You can rest assured that I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for mutants, zombies or whatever else might be found in a post apocalyptic place like this...

I hope everyone had a great holiday season. We sure did! Next week we'll be hitching the jeep up behind the RV and heading for the deep desert environs of Southern Arizona. Just south of Yuma and just north of la frontera Mexicana.

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49 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Pat!! Good to hear from you. We've missed you.
I bet it was expensive running a water park in the middle of the desert. Amazed you were able to roam around the place and take photos - were are very cool.

Pam ;) said...

Welcome back, Pat.. long time no see :)

Great photo story of 'the good ole days' and what it looks like now.

The vengeance of the desert!

Shelly said...

Good to see you back in blogland. That name is pretty apt since Dolores means sorrows in Spanish. I hope it does get back up and running. Those pictures are haunting-

Dawn said...

Hi There Pat!!!
These are amazing photos...a trip well documented:) My favorite is the 2nd one...with the curved road and the One Way sign. I would like that on my wall!
Have a wonderful day!!

Huntress said...

Definitely 'back with a bang'.

I don't have a clue where this water park is (I barely know where California is) but there's something about abandoned sites like this that fascinate me. Old houses and barns, windmills and trails where roads used to be; I can't get enough of 'em.

Sylvia K said...

Good to see you back, Pat! And what a great photo story indeed! Interesting to see how it was and how it is -- sometimes I feel the same way when I get up in the morning and look in the mirror!! Surely, that can't be????

TexWisGirl said...

nice to see you again, pat! all i could think of was that zombie movie with woody harrelson in it. :)

Ms. A said...

I think it's kinda sad when something that was once wanted, is no longer viable and needed. Kinda like me! LOL!

Good to see you!

Al Penwasser said...

Pretty depressing stuff. How far away from, you know, people was this place? That may have had something to do with it. The closest we come to something like this in the N.E. is a place called Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport, CT. Very little of this old amusement park remains, but you can still detect some sad remnants. And a few hoboes.

Betsy Adams said...

OH how sad... I hate seeing places like this that used to be so popular and gorgeous, all turned to ruin now... It's just SAD... But--like you said: location-location-location....

Thanks for sharing. Have a great RV trip to Arizona.
Betsy

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

The pictures are poignant and a bit sobering, Pat. I don't think I've ever been there. Looks like it was fun when it was an actual waterpark.

As much as I've missed you here, I'm more glad you've been doing well and continuing on your adventures.

Oh, thanks SO MUCH for ordering my book. Have a great 2013.
xoRobyn

Leovi said...

Yes, wonderful pictures, a good document fotogáfico. I like to see pictures of different era. The wine business is low.

TheChieftess said...

I don't do the drive from LA to LV anymore...but I do drive from LA to and from Mammoth Lakes... I am constantly amazed at the number of abandoned buildings up and down the highway...looking at your blog...it doesn't appear to be a phenomenon of unusual proportion!!! The water park is quite a find...I can't imagine just abandoning something like that...but then again, I can't imagine wanting own something like that in the first place!!! Glad you're back!

TS Hendrik said...

Glad to see you're back to blogging again! Great set of pictures. I really love the look of the old water tower with the worn away coca-cola advertisement.

tapirgal said...

The architecture alone could have caused the demise of this place, IMHO, but it makes for fantastic post-Apocalyptic photo material. I really enjoyed the tour, especially the color shots. Great return post :-)

Belle said...

Very interesting story and the photos were great to see. I hate to see anyone go out of business. They did stay open a long time though.

Pearl said...

Hey, Pat!

There's something quite sad about this, and yet... I would love to come across this. Very "end of the world", something I've suspected since I was very young might be just around the corner...

Pearl

SHELLY RAE said...

I was just here six weeks ago and also on Sunday. I can't get enough of this place. My mother used to go when she was younger. I can't put my feelings about this place into words. Just that I love it.

SHELLY RAE said...

Absolutely love this place

Cezar and Léia said...

Hey, welcome back my friend!
Wonderful adventure there, and your pictures are fabulous.I specially love the b&w shots, perfect choice for the scenery!
Hugs
Léia

purrs and love from little LUNA

Bossy Betty said...

Great to have you back! I LOVE your black and white prints!

Betty Manousos said...

welcome back, pat! you've been missed.
love your photos, especially the monochrome.

great work!
:)

Rosemary Nickerson said...

Location, location, location!
Welcome back, Old Friend.
Rosemary

Chuck said...

Pat, you find such great stuff in the desert. This could have been a great apocalyptic backdrop for a movie. I think it would be kinda cool and maybe a little freaky to walk through this place now...alone.

Just goes to prove the old theory...in business location is everything!

Have fun in Yuma and post your pics!

Really glad you resurfaced. I was getting a little worried.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh yeah, Pat, ..mily fun indeed! I LOVE this post. Although (like the desert itself) parts of it make me want to cry. And all of it makes me think. (Is that a nice thing to do to an old lady?) Seriously I'm glad to see you back in blogland and happy that you guys had such a nice holiday trip. Looking forward to reading about the next one.

Megan Cahalan said...

Wow.

Mynx said...

I love how you started this post with the black and white and then dazzled us with stunning blue skies over the ghost town(park)
Gorgeous contrasts and I love seeing how nature is reclaiming all that concrete

Francisca said...

Back with a bang, indeed! What a forlorn place... but your description and images - both monochrome and color - of this waterpark cemetery are fabulous. I can just see you snooping around with your camera... what fun! And your wife is a patient saint for waiting while you explore the ruins. What were the business folks thinking? Happy New Year, Pat! Many happy hours of exploring and blogging to you!

Wayne (Woody), whatever said...

This is my kind of place!! It has an interesting story, thanks for sharing!

Jhon Baker said...

Great Photo essay - seems like the kind of place that Scooby-doo would find interesting.

altadenahiker said...

Bang, indeed. Fascinating bit of Americana, before and after.

missing moments said...

Welcome back! Interesting story and photos. Great job.

Kato Kaka said...

So very jealous that you got to visit such an awesome place! You know how much I love abandoned stuff :)

Cool pictures! If I am ever up that way I will have to stop in and snap a few of my own!

Anthony J. Langford said...

Great to have you back.

Awesome post. I find it really sad. And haunting. I'd love to go. Must have been fascinating to walk around.

Extremely interesting Patty.

Cheers mate.

Island Rambles Blog said...

That is such a unique post, like most of your posts, I enjoy seeing your unusual and original view of things around you. The old water park is sad to see but it had its day I guess as it looked busy in the past. Looking forward to seeing your trip photos. I can't wait till we are off in our RV again. You have such good weather there. cheers.

Pat Tillett said...

Alex - Thanks so much! There wasn't another person anywhere near the place, so I had it to myself.

Pam - Thanks Pam! Sure has! The desert does NOT abide...

Shelly - Thanks! It's good to be back. It was a really odd feeling walking around there.

Dawn - Hey Dawn! Thanks so much! Feel free to use anything here.

Huntress - Thanks! I totally agree, all those places feel me with questions about what went on there.

Sylvia - Thanks Sylvia! HA! I know that feeling!

TexWisGirl - Thanks! I appreciate that. Yep! I thought the SAME thing. Zombie Land! I heard they are talking about a sequel Zombie Land 2.

Ms. A - I'm right there with you. It is kind of sad, but it made for great exploring!

Al - Not too many folks within several miles. It gets BRUTALLY hot there during the summer. Well, hobos need amusement parks too!

Betsy - Yep! It's a bittersweet thing for sure. Thanks Betsy, I'm sure we'll have have and do some exploring.

Pat Tillett said...

Robyn - Thanks so much Robyn. I may not have been blogging, but I was getting a lot of stuff done. I have the time to make posts and I have plenty to post. But I also REALLY enjoy commenting on other blogs and responding to comments on mine. As I'm sure you know, commenting on the blogs you like takes a TON of time.

Leovi - Thanks Leovi! Wine? I want wine...

TheChieftess - I guess it costs too much money to tear anything down these days. I guess people with a lot of money can afford to take chances with these projects. Thanks! Glad to be back.

Tim - It's good to be back my friend! I have a photo somewhere from many years ago when the water tank was much more colorful.

Sheryl - It's not my cup of tea, but I think the colors and buildings pretty much fit into the amusement park motif of those days. Either way, I was happy to find it! thanks so much Sheryl.

Belle - Hey Belle! I agree about people going out of business. Kind of sad. Thanks! I'll be over to catch up very soon.

Pearl - Hey there! I've always felt that way also. It was like the END, would take place during my life. I'm not sure if I'd want to witness it or no. No, I guess I wouldn't, because after the end of the world, there wouldn't be anyone to talk to about it!

Shelly - Awesome! I know someone who used to go there when it was open also. It looks to have been pretty popular.

Leia - Hi Leia! It's great to be back! If the buildings weren't so colorful, I would taken them all in B&W, or changed them later. Thanks so much for the nice words.

Bossy Betty - Thanks so much! I'm glad you like them!

Pat Tillett said...

Betty M - Thanks so much on both counts!

Rosemary - That's what it all about! Thanks so much Rosemary! On the boat?

Chuck - Thanks Chuck! I wasn't hardly scared at all! Thanks so much for the worry. I'm doing really well and was just getting things done. We'll be camping at a place that is closer to Mexico than it is to Yuma (I think), so maybe I'll find some oddities south of the border.

Sallie - "Mily Fun!" I agree that it's a little sad, but par for the course in the desert. Thanks so much for saying that, I'm happy to be back.

Megan - That's what I said! Hey, I can't get to you blog now without joining google+ or something like that.

Mynx - I almost wish the place wasn't so colorful (also the sky) because it looked so good in B&W. The colors were pretty vivid, so I also wanted to show that. Thanks so much!

Francisca - Indeed! It was a lot of fun. If I had been there by myself, I would have been there a lot longer. Happy New year to you also my friend!

Woody - A bunch of stories! My pleasure.

Jhon - Thanks Jhon! I wish he'd been there with me.

altadenahiker - Bang Yes! Just a little bit of our history. I agree that it was totally fascinating.



Pat Tillett said...

missing moments - It's good to be back. Thanks for the nice words.

Kato - I totally know that it's your kind of place. It will be sitting there waiting for you. Thanks!

Anthony - Thanks Anthony! It was certainly bittersweet, but I was so happy to be in there.

Island Rambles - Why thank you! I guess I'm just easily amused. We're having good weather here, but we're not leaving until Monday because it's freezing (literally) there at night and we don't want to have to deal with what that can do to the RV. Supposed to be in the 60's later in the week.

Jimmy said...

Amazing that it has held up as well, it is sad to see things disappear like these buildings and water park, but what great pictures.

The Geezers said...

My, you have a great eye.

Some people find these settings depressing and haunting, but there is some reassuring about nature's ability to gradually melt and absorb human structures back into the earth.

Fascinating piece.

dennis hodgson said...

There is a profound melancholy about places like this, which you've captured beautifully Pat. I love deserts, and it seems you do too.

Lolamouse said...

These photos reminded me of what I saw up in NJ after Sandy. The damage up there was greater, but the eerie feeling of abandonment was quite similar. Great photos!

Baby Sister said...

Wow, how depressing and so very cool at the same time!! That would be awesome if it could be revived. I love how beautifully the pictures captured everything.
Welcome back!!

Carly said...

This was very interesting to see, especially since you were able to find the 'before' pictures. Do you and your wife ever worry about being caught? My husband would never go for it, he'd be too nervous.

Ebie said...

Its just a shame when businesses can't survive with the stiff competition. Love seeing urban decay, and you just captured them, the way the are in its condition. There are still colors, too.

Fun post!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

wow wow wow. I recall passing this place and wondering about. Like the skeleton that was once Marine land - so glad you brought the past and the present together. Excellent road adventure Pat. Truly is. Now if I go any farther will you show us this?

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