America’s first waterpark is 250 acres of abandoned decay, selling for $11M

Real Estate

Can this eerie, thrice-closed abandoned park sell for $11 million?

Lake Dolores Waterpark, considered America’s first waterpark, hit the market asking $11 million in August — and it is 250 acres of eerie, abandoned decay, new photos by Raise the Stakes Photography show.

It has been almost two decades since the Mojave Desert, California park was abandoned in 2004 after three attempted launches and closures over the past 60 years.

“I’ve visited the park several times over the years since it was first abandoned, and each time it is slightly more decayed and weather-beaten – not to mention covered in spray paint,” said the Nevada photographer Shaun, who took the photos in mid-September and asked his last name not be used.

Dirt, overgrown trees, barren stretches of land, graffiti, spray paint cans and litter mark the site in the new photos. Barbed wire and chain link fence around the property needs repair, according to Realtor.com.

“A large waterpark sitting abandoned in the arid Mojave Desert is an incredibly surreal scene, and it’s great to see people turn it into essentially a playground and guerrilla art gallery for those others who are willing to hop the fence and explore it,” he said.

The abandoned aesthetic made it an attractive filming location and it was featured in “Top Gear” Season 5 in 2014 and a Tony Hawk commercial in 2015.

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The abandoned aesthetic made it an attractive filming location and was featured in Top Gear season five (2014) and a Tony Hawk commercial (2015).
The abandoned aesthetic made it an attractive filming location and it was featured in “Top Gear” Season 5 in 2014 and a Tony Hawk commercial in 2015.

“I’ve visited the park several times over the years since it was first abandoned, and each time it is slightly more decayed and weather-beaten – not to mention covered in spray paint,” said the Nevada photographer Shaun.
“I’ve visited the park several times over the years since it was first abandoned, and each time it is slightly more decayed and weather-beaten – not to mention covered in spray paint,” said the Nevada photographer Shaun.

It has been almost two decades since the park was last abandoned in 2004.
It has been almost two decades since the park was last abandoned in 2004.

The park sign is pictured at dusk.
The park sign is pictured at dusk.

The entrance to the park is pictured.
The entrance to the park is pictured.
Jam Press/Raise the Stakes Photo

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Barbed wire and chain link fence around the property needs repair, according to Realtor.com.
Barbed wire and chain link fence around the property needs repair, according to Realtor.com.

The site is 251 acres.
The site is 251 acres.

Three separate attempts have been made to launch a park in the location.
Three separate attempts have been made to launch a park in the location.

The abandoned park is located in the Mohave desert.
The abandoned park is located in the Mohave desert.

A thrice-doomed destination

The 251-acre Mojave Desert park with was first built in 1962 by local businessman Bob Byers (property records name him John Byers). He named it after his wife, Dolores — Lake Dolores Waterpark.

It had waterslides, zip lines, a lazy river, bumper boats and a Go-Kart track. Legal and financial troubles shuttered the park in the 1980s, according to Jam Press.

It re-opened as “Rock-a-Hoola” in 1998 with the world’s largest family raft ride at the time, they claimed, but a former employee was paralyzed in a serious accident resulting in a $4.4 million judgment against the park, and investors declared bankruptcy, according to Jam Press.

It last opened in 2002 as Discovery Waterpark for only two years. When it closed in 2004, slides were sold off to other parks while other structures were left to crumble, according to Jam Press.

The 251-acre Mojave Desert park with a 31-acre lake was first built in 1962 by local businessman Bob Byers.
The location is private property, but urban explorers have documented ventures into the property for years.
The location is private property, but urban explorers have documented ventures into the property for years.
Jam Press/Raise the Stakes Photo

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Dirt, overgrown trees, barren stretches of land, graffiti, spray paint cans and litter mark the site in the new photos.
Dirt, overgrown trees, barren stretches of land, graffiti, spray paint cans and litter mark the site in the new photos.

“It's great to see people turn it into essentially a playground and guerrilla art gallery for those others who are willing to hop the fence and explore it," he said.
“It’s great to see people turn it into essentially a playground and guerrilla art gallery for those others who are willing to hop the fence and explore it,” he said.

Hopes, delayed

It has since traded hands twice between investors, last selling for $1.5 million in 2013 — and the owner seemed to be set on reviving the property.

“Problems? We have no issues here. The resort is still in the planning stages and leadership being looked into very closely. Be ready…” Lake Dolores staff wrote on Facebook in September 2016. In March 2019, they wrote, “We will once again rise above the tiny grains of sand, and once again become the oasis in the middle of the desert.”

But on Aug. 2, 2021, G & GF Enterprise LLC listed the property for $11 million. The San Bernardino assessor’s office values it at $1.25 million.

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The graffiti-ed skate park attracted the likes of Tony Hawk.
The graffiti-ed skate park attracted the likes of Tony Hawk.

A skate park is pictured.
A skate park is pictured.

A skate park is pictured from the air.
A skate park is pictured from the air.

A skate park is pictured from the air from another angle.
A skate park is pictured from the air from another angle.

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“A large waterpark sitting abandoned in the arid Mojave Desert is an incredibly surreal scene," he said.
“A large waterpark sitting abandoned in the arid Mojave Desert is an incredibly surreal scene,” he said.

“It is so damaged it's hard to imagine making any functional use of the structures and remains of the old waterpark that are still standing," said Shaun.
“It is so damaged it’s hard to imagine making any functional use of the structures and remains of the old waterpark that are still standing,” said Shaun.

The potential buyer would have water rights and permission to develop the property for any commercial use, according to Realtor.com.
The potential buyer would have water rights and permission to develop the property for any commercial use, according to Realtor.com.

On August 2, 2021, the property listed for $11 million.
On August 2, 2021, the property listed for $11 million.

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“The state of decay is part of the whole thing," said Shaun.
“The state of decay is part of the whole thing,” said Shaun.

"It won't exist forever," said Shaun.
“It won’t exist forever,” said Shaun.

“It is so damaged it’s hard to imagine making any functional use of the structures and remains of the old waterpark that are still standing,” said Shaun.

Now, the seller’s dreams have one last chance in the form of proposed plans, which are a development option for the buyer, though the buyer would have permission to develop the property for any commercial use, according to Realtor.com.

“It [could become] some fancy development like the owner is hoping for with listing it for sale, or eventually [it could] just revert to [a] massive lot of sand like much of the other parcels out here,” said Shaun.

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"It [could] become some fancy development like the owner is hoping for with listing it for sale, or eventually [could] just revert to massive lot of sand like much of the other parcels out here," said Shaun.
“It [could] become some fancy development like the owner is hoping for with listing it for sale, or eventually [could] just revert to massive lot of sand like much of the other parcels out here,” said Shaun.

"It [is] something to appreciate if you can catch it the window of time that it exists in this state," said Shaun.
“It [is] something to appreciate if you can catch it the window of time that it exists in this state,” said Shaun.

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Proposed five-phase development plans include a lake resort, camping grounds, a "restored and upgraded" water park, public services (water & sewer treatment plants, fire protection, library, museum, amphitheater) and commercial/retail with hotel, restaurants, gas station, food court and shopping, according to Realtor.com.
Proposed five-phase development plans include a lake resort, camping grounds, a “restored and upgraded” water park, public services (water & sewer treatment plants, fire protection, library, museum, amphitheater) and commercial/retail with hotel, restaurants, gas station, food court and shopping, according to Realtor.com.

The property last sold for $1.5 million in 2013.
The property last sold for $1.5 million in 2013.

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"Problems? We have no issues here. The resort is still in the planning stages and leadership being looked into very closely. Be ready..." the owners wrote in September 2016.
“Problems? We have no issues here. The resort is still in the planning stages and leadership being looked into very closely. Be ready…” the owners wrote in September 2016.

"We will once again rise above the tiny grains of sand, and once again become the oasis in the middle of the desert," Lake Dolores staff wrote on Facebook in March 2019.
“We will once again rise above the tiny grains of sand, and once again become the oasis in the middle of the desert,” Lake Dolores staff wrote on Facebook in March 2019.

Plans include a lake resort, camping grounds, a “restored and upgraded” water park, public services (water & sewer treatment plants, fire protection, library, museum, amphitheater) and commercial and retail space with a hotel, restaurants, a gas station, a food court and shopping, according to Realtor.com.

“The state of decay is part of the whole thing, and knowing it won’t exist forever… just makes it something to appreciate if you can catch it in the window of time that it exists in this state.”

Listing broker Samina Mahud did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.

The property is pictured at dusk.
The property is pictured at dusk.
Jam Press/Raise the Stakes Photo

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This hill was once covered in red, white and blue water slides, historic photos show.
This hill was once covered in red, white and blue water slides, historic photos show.

The large desert property has a large hill on-site.
The large desert property has a large hill on-site.

The hill is pictured behind a graffiti-ed building.
The hill is pictured behind a graffiti-ed building.

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"Hopes," the graffiti-ed billboard reads.
“Hopes,” the graffiti-ed billboard reads.

It last opened in 2002 as Discovery Waterpark for only two years.
It last opened in 2002 as Discovery Waterpark for only two years.

When it closed in 2004, slides were sold off to other parks while other structures were left to crumble, according to Jam Press.
When it closed in 2004, slides were sold off to other parks while other structures were left to crumble, according to Jam Press.

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