From the highway it looks like a mirage — a post-apocalyptic oasis with swirls of vibrant color framed by thirsty palms in the middle of an empty desert. Upon closer inspection I saw that it was actually a ruin transformed by spray paint into something of a guerrilla art installation. Alternatingly known as Lake Dolores, Rock-a-Hoola and Discovery, it was once an amusement park — or more precisely a “water park” which in and of itself is bizarre considering it is in a drought-prone desert.
The original Lake Dolores Waterpark, designed by local businessman Bob Byers, was named after his wife. It opened in 1962 with the unimaginative slogan “fun spot of the desert,” but managed to attract enough of an audience to survive, providing motorists traveling between Las Vegas and Los Angeles with a refreshing respite from the summer sun. After a peak in attendance during the 1970s, the park experienced a downturn in popularity, and closed for the first time in the mid 1980s. It reopened as Rock-a-Hoola in the 1990s, and only lasted a few years before filing for bankruptcy in 2000 after an employee injury lawsuit. It opened again as Discovery Waterpark in 2002, but closed for good in 2004 and the rides were dismantled.
After it’s final abandonment the waterpark fell into ruin, and became an unsanctioned canvas for graffiti artists.