Lake Dolores Waterpark Still Makes a Splash

Update 3/30/20: According to the San Bernardino Sun, “The 267-acre project, which aims to redevelop the former Lake Dolores Waterpark in the unincorporated community of Newberry Springs, was approved by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, March 24. Supervisors approved a General Plan amendment and a conditional use permit for the project. Plans include rehabbing the 41-acre former water park; restoring the 22-acre lake and 2-acre pond for boating, swimming and camping; and additional office and administration space, commercial and retail.”  According to Business Insider, “It was slated to be called Dolores Lake Park when it would open by summer 2023 as a year-round entertainment venue but built in phases. The third phase could begin in 2023 and end in 2024. The fourth phase of the plan would add nearly 90,000 square feet of office and administrative space, including a library and amphitheater. The fifth phase would add nearly 46,000 square feet of commercial and retail space off Interstate Highway 15. Construction on that phase could begin in 2025 and finish in 2026.”

Update 2023: G & F Enterprises, owners of the closed 250-acre park at 72 Hacienda Road in Newberry Springs, were asking $11 million dollars for the property a year later, in 2021.  It last sold in 2013 for $1.5 million.



Although forlorn and graffiti’d to the hilt, the place still imbues a whimsical peek into better times when it was filled with throngs of sunscreen slathered fun-seeking families and teens. If you listen carefully, you may even hear echoes of laughter and shouts of glee on the wind. Can’t you smell the scent of baby oil and corn dogs in the air?

Presently, the park is not open to the public, but its energy remains.  Lake Dolores Waterpark is a painted lady down on her luck with one foot on the past and the other on a banana peel.  But she may have one more trick up her sleeve.



Lake Dolores Waterpark in Newberry Springs, California, just 100 yards from the roar of busy Interstate 15, was originally designed and built by local businessman Bob Byers for use by his extended family. Lake Dolores was named after Byers’ wife. The initial phases of conception, planning and construction took place in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Over the next 25 years, rides and attractions were added, and the site evolved into a waterpark, which was advertised on television with the slogan:

“The Fun Spot of The Desert!”

The park saw its peak attendance between the early 1970s and the mid-1980s. After a downturn in popularity in the late 1980s, the park closed.

The defunct Lake Dolores Waterpark was sold in August 1990 to Lake Dolores Group LLC, a three–member investment group led by Oxnard businessman Terry Christensen, who envisioned a more polished park with a 1950s theme.

In 1995, the original waterslides on the hill were removed to make room for new installations.

The park reopened under a new name, “Rock–A–Hoola”, on July 4, 1998.


Millions of dollars were spent in 1998 to renovate the park with a stylized 1950s / Route 66 theme. New rides and futurist buildings were added. Thousands of shrubs and trees were planted.  The site exploded with color and activity.

Why did it close you may ask?  In 1999 an employee of the park used one of the slides when the park was closed, and the catch pool didn’t have enough water in it. He became a paraplegic in the accident and was awarded a $4.4 million payoff. It was a contributing factor in the demise of the waterpark.

The theme park struggled for six years under three different owners (which operated under the names Lake Dolores, Rock–A–Hoola Waterpark and Discovery Waterpark), finally closing for good in 2004.

While the water slides themselves are gone, the property still sports acres of gutted buildings, empty pools and debris laden canals. Despite the recent, successive name changes due to two separate transfers of ownership, the site is still far more commonly known by the general public as “Lake Dolores”.

Just one of the many whimsical sights we saw at the former Lake Delores Waterpark in 2015. Rock on, Social Distortion.

This part of the Mojave Desert is harsh, with temps over 100F all summer, bitterly cold winters and a grit-filled wind that howls all year round.  It is readily apparent humans have been more destructive to the waterpark in recent years than the weather has.

View from atop the 8-persons slides of Lake Dolores. You would slide down on an inflated raft and then skip across the water for several more feet.
One of the big colorful slides of “Rock A Hoola”
What remains of Lake Delores in 2015. She is a mere wisp of her former self. By 2021, there were reports the lake had completely dried up.

Despite appearances, the former Lake Dolores Waterpark is far from dead.

In March 2008 the park appeared in an episode of the reality show Rob & Big on MTV. Professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek and friends used the waterpark and its slides to perform skateboard stunts for the show.

The waterpark, whether intended or not, now sports an edgy hipster vibe.

Pop culture, may in fact, save Lake Dolores.


In 2011, a group called Oasis Themepark announced a project to renovate and reopen the park, but progress has been slow.

In June 2012, another skate film “Kilian Martin: Altered Route” directed by Brett Novak and sponsored in part by Mercedes-Benz showed the park in its current state while reflecting on its past appearance.

In 2013, TrustoCorp, a group of artists from New York City, transformed the park into a “TrustoLand” as an artistic statement, by repainting many signs and buildings with unusual images and messages.

Lake Dolores Waterpark re-opened briefly on May 26, 2014, to feature the X-2 Rocket Launch.

On September 30, 2014, the park was used by Top Gear America as an obstacle course in Season 5 Episode 7 “What Can It Take”On November 7-9th, 2014 The park was used as the site of an Operation Lion Claws airsoft event,’War of Angels’.

In Spring of 2015 the park was used in a commercial for BMW Mini Cooper.  The waterpark was also used in the music video for “Reapers” by the British rock band “Muse”.

Update: Find the 166-pages of the 2018 San Bernardino County Staff Report for the proposed plans and required permits for the waterpark and the 2019 general plan findings HERE.

Disclaimer: All our photos were taken in 2015. 



Two cherry Cokes, two cheeseburgers with extra pickles and a large churro, please!


Sign of the Times.


It is our hope that this painted lady down on her luck formerly known as Lake Dolores will continue to hold the public’s interest and nostalgia, at least until her next reincarnation.  Let’s just hope it’s not another outlet mall or solar farm. The Mojave Desert is full.

Citations and Recommended Resources:

Abandoned water park near Barstow could reopen

56 thoughts on “Lake Dolores Waterpark Still Makes a Splash

    1. I vividly remember going there in what must’ve been the Summer of 1978. That would make me having been 5.5yrs old! I lived in Las Vegas until that next Winter when we returned to Oregon where my grandparents lived. There were the metal slides, I believe 6 of them of varying lengths & hight. And 1 stand up slide with a bar above you to hold onto. There was the big trapeze in the middle of the lake and if I remember right, ziplines as well! Seeing these pictures and reading of its history has been a total blast from the past. Thank you! It’s literally like walking into the pages of my own history book. And there are Pictures!! Lol

  1. I was married to Kim Byers the daughter of Bob Byers. I lived on the property I with Bob and his Sons Jonny,Jody,Mark we all built the water slides and all that was Lake Delores named after my mother-in law Bob Byers’s with the true matriarch of the whole thing. In the late 60’s Bob after the freeway stole 50 acres from him as a alfalfa farmer and a fourth grade education, He said well this is what I am going to do. He built a motocross track in the back of the 380 acres he had left. He witched the 3 water wells (12 inch). The man was a pilot had two air planes. He was my second father I love and miss him everyday. Haha at 68 he still snow skied and he would yoddle on the tram ride. I loved that part of life have all of these great memories that will never be upgraded by anyone.

    1. Mr. Hooper do u remember johnny byers wife lana she is my 1st cousin she was the daughter of marjorie my dad bob ayres older sister how is kim doing

    2. Hey Michael hooper my dad started taking us there in 1969 we r related to john & lana byers they had two boys johnny joey and a daughter penny, we used to fish for catfish at night channel cats & bullhead catfish and we use to ride go carts and we were some of the nuts that use to stand up on the slides that gave them idea of stand up slides we stop going there in the late 70s we had so many great times with John & lana byers we use to stay at there house with John, joe and penny and at midnight we go hunting rabbits in the back of his pick up we would shoot 22s and one guy would have a shotgun just incase they missed we had so many great times there I was 12 in 1969 great times all thru high school best summers ever and we would go to lake stevens to duck hunt it was great times miss bob & dee all the time do u have any pictures bob & dee in the early 70s

    3. With all the technology people still will love to hear a great story on YouTube even a book not all readers are banished .
      I wasn’t raised out here but I have explored many areas people living here have never even heard of .I’m an explorer and believe your stories is how remember Americans to be leaders with hearts and wild great stories should definitely be told !

    4. Hi Michael,

      My name is Sarah and I’m a producer for ISH Entertainment. We are making a historical television series about America in the 70s and 80s and are featuring lake Dolores. We are looking to interview individuals who have first hand experience at the park and would love to talk to you about your experiences there. If this is something that would interest you, please reach out to me at or

      Thank you so much for the awesome story!

  2. Hi Michael! So glad you shared your amazing story with us! We sure wish we could have seen Lake Delores in its hay day! Thanks very much for your comments.

      1. It would have been amazing to.see that place at its peak it looked so fun, if I ever owned that property I would want to reopen it. And give it’s shining days back and restore the park to what it once was.

  3. Wonderful memories of lake Dolores. Our company, Serendipity Diversions of Barstow had a video game facility there and gave Bob and Dee a hand when they needed it. It would be great to see it opened again.

  4. The LD of the 70’s and 80’s was the high deserts beach, with water rides that were simple and fun. Rules were clear and simple…break them and LD’s staff and volunteer back up knew how to convert the offender’s into law abiding types, or if not, introduce you to the desert, just outside the park. The awesome rides, vibe and self governance of the time and place is something I cannot imagine reproduced today. A version ? Yes, but only an echo of the original. Thanks for the well researched story and memories!

  5. This was the best Water Park Ever when I was a kid ever time to and from CA from Vegas miss it happy I still have the memories

  6. We loved that place! We were there when it first opened. We’d pack food and drinks and hung out all day. I remember the first time I was on those slides. It was a hot slow walk up the hill, and a speedy flight down the slide. If you positioned yourself just right, you could actually skip like a rock part way across the lake. It was crazy!

  7. I think since it’s much more populated up here it would be pretty busy. I would like to see it resurrected as it was before, keeping the Lake Delores name

  8. Great article. Having moved away from Barstow in 1967, love reading about everything Barstow, love all the desert way posts. Such great photography

  9. I use to go to Lake Dolores when it first opened, it had one maybe two slides, a trapeze type swing that you jumped off a platform with and them let go of over the water below… Great fun!

  10. That would be cool if some rich guy came along and reopened this water park I went there at 13 years old

  11. Last time I went in for filming a project. During the half of the filming, a cop came in and said this is private place, we need permission to get in. Do you know how to get the permit for this?

    1. Hi Adam. Of course, when confronted by authority about trespassing, we encourage others to feign ignorance and leave peacefully. Whether you need a film permit depends on whether it’s just a cellphone or a professional film crew. If you can find out from security who owns the property you could contact them to ask permission. Or you could reach out to the corporation from our article to see if the acquired the property and if so, seek their blessings. Film permits can be quite costly, but if you need to go that route, you may want to contact San Bernardino County at for the details. Good luck with your filming project! Please let us know how it goes.

    1. Hi Josef. We’re sure somebody owns it. You may want to go to the San Bernardino County tax accessor’s site to see if you can get info. Good luck.

  12. It doesn’t surprise me that it keeps failing as a Water Park. No one south of Barstow in any great numbers is going to drive out there and make a day of it when they can just keep going for another 90 mins and hit Las Vegas. There’s no population center even remotely near it. Always seemed odd to me it was out in the middle of nowhere – though from the earlier posts I’m sure locals in the area really enjoyed it.

    Surprised they didn’t have insurance to cover that guy who was trespassing after hours and got injured.

    1. I agree. Lived in Barstow for a couple years while working with the military and drove past this abandoned waterpark several times. All I could say is what fool would try to build a waterpark in the middle of the Mojave Desert, right next to Death Valley, in Newberry Springs (middle of nowhere), where the wind whips up dust and litter all day, and you go from scorching hot to freezing cold within 24 hrs? It’s been in the hands of several owners and none of them can make a long term go of it. Its clearly visible on your way back and forth from LA to Las Vegas on I-15 with plenty of rich business folk and “investors” driving by all the time. Yet it still sits vacant. It’s no surprise no one can keep it afloat. Best bet is to turn it into some type of desert off road raceway. Keep the water in the ground where we need it and not on top of the desert where it evaporates into nothing. If you feel the need to explore gratuitous water use in the desert, just go to Vegas.

  13. I use to go there in 70’s and 80’s, we paid by the carload to get in and we had to sign papers in case someone got hurt, so the owners wouldn’t be held liable.My cousin broke his leg on the tram cable, he was rocking so hard and going so fast, he flew into about 3 feet of water and his leg floated up right in front of me…Mangled..It took about 45 minutes for the ambulance to get there..He had pins in his heel and leg..Always walked with a cane from then on..But Lake Dolores was the Greatest Fun I ever had as a teenager..There will Never be Any Other Place that can Compare to that Time of Fun!!!

    1. Hi Bonnie,

      My name is Sarah and I’m a producer for ISH Entertainment, a production company in New York. We are currently developing a historical television series about America in the 70s and 80s and are looking to interview people who have been to Lake Dolores in its hay day which it sounds like you have! We’d love to just set up a call with you to talk about your experiences there as a kid with your cousins. Let me know at either or
      Thank you!!

    2. Lived in San Bernardino during the 70’s. Lake Delores was about a 90 minute drive. We were young newlyweds, and would borrow our Uncle’s old Econoline van (NO A/C) and pile cousins and friends in for a day at Lake Delores once or twice every summer. The drive was brutal in the heat, but we had a blast, anyway. Water parks were a new concept back then, and this place had a raw, wild, even dangerous feel and reputation in those days. But that was kind of the appeal. Fifteen+ years later, when we took own kids to more modern, sanitized and safer water parks, it just wasn’t quite the same. But, then again, it never is….

  14. I lived in Newberry from 1951-1958 & there was no Lake Delores. I lived on Newberry Rd about 1-1/2 miles from the School. We had a Resavoir (sp) on the Woodruff Ranch to swim if we walked across the desert. The Pool at the Store was fun too. Where is Lake Delores?

    1. Hi Chris. We believe the waterpark was in its planning stage in the late 50s but development didn’t start until the 1960s. As Maxwell Smart said, “Missed it by this much.” 😉

  15. I remember as a kid (in the early 80s) seeing the commercials on T.V. in L.A. Thankfully my older sister finally took all of us.

    The picture of the long 8 slides.. That third slide from the left, I probably ran up all those stairs and road that slide at lest 5 dozen times that day. We’d would try to make launch-ramps at the bottom of those long slides holding a couple of the inflatable sleds they sold there-yeah didn’t work, heh. How could it? You’d be hauling-butt by the time you hit the lake.

    Great place; great memories.

  16. Hi Everyone,

    My name is Sarah and I am a producer for ISH Entertainment in New York. We are currently conducting first person interviews with people who have personally visited Lake Dolores in the 70s/80s for a historically based television series. If you or your family visited Lake Dolores during the hay day period, please let me know! Email: or I promise not spam, just doing some virtual interviews for a family friendly television series. Thanks!

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