Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark – Newberry Springs, California - Atlas Obscura

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Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark

The "Fun Spot of the Desert" is now a haunting ruin, and a reminder that putting a water park in a desert is a bad idea.  


Originally started as a fun vacation spot for a local business man and his family, the collection of pools and slides that would come to be known as the Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark provided a carnival oasis in the middle of the desert until shutting down and leaving behind sun-faded ruins that speak to the folly of such an ironic enterprise. 

In the beginning the park was started as a fun getaway on Lake Dolores in the Mojave Desert for local businessman Bob Byers and his family. The initial park was finished in the early 1960s and consisted of a series of identical steel slides that riders could ride down, landing in the man-made lake. Soon a campground was built nearby and the park was made available to the public. For the next few decades, the park continued to grow, adding more attractions for its growing number of visitors. However attendance began to dwindle in the late 1980s and by 1990, the park had officially closed.

Baking in hot desert obscurity for years, the park was renovated in 1998 after millions of dollars were spent to turn the park into the 1950s themed waterpark for hep cats, Rock-A-Hoola. A collection of modern waterslides and attractions such as a lazy river were installed and all of the structures were kitted out to look like a retro-future wonderland. Unfortunately the good times at the swingin’ “Fun Spot of The Desert” would last a single year before one of the employees took a late night ride down a slide into a partially-filled pool. The disastrous landing turned the employee into a paraplegic, and the settlement that followed cost the attraction millions of dollars. Rock-A-Hoola was never able to fully recover from the tragic accident, and closed down once again in 2004.

Since closing, the faux-50s architecture and waterslides have faded and broken under the unrelenting Mojave sun. vandals and scavengers have damaged most of the buildings and signs, but they still stand, rusting away like some time lost ruin. Visitors and passersby could be forgiven for asking who thought it would be a good idea to put a water park in the desert in the first place.        

Know Before You Go

On Interstate 15 north of Newberry Springs. There are several "No Trespassing" signs on the property.

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