When you say something’s public, that means it’s for everyone to know about, see, or touch. That is exactly what this pool in Mojave Desert is. If you’re looking for a relief against the scorching heat, you don’t have to pay for an entrance fee or ask anyone’s permission to get in.
But don’t get your hopes up just yet. You know what they always say? There’s no such thing as free lunch. It’s true. Even though this pool is free and can be used by anyone, it isn’t easy to find. Why? Well, that’s because you’ll to have to scour the 25,000 mi² Southern California desert and hope that you’ll be able to locate the pool yourself.
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The eleven-by-five-foot-wide pool is hardly a destination in itself. It is the size of a hot tub. But just like any kind of feat, it’s more about the journey, like a piece of art that requires pilgrimage.
The Social Pool is the work of artist Alfredo Barsuglia who created the minimalist sculpture to nod to other monumental works of desert-bound land art, like Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty on the Great Salt Lake. The pool “is about the effort people make to reach a luxury good,” tells Barsuglia to the Los Angeles Times.
The endeavor will most likely feel like a wild goose hunt. The first place you have to be is at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in West Hollywood, where the Austrian-born Barsuglia resides. In there, you can obtain the GPS coordinates along with the key. But you can’t reserve it ahead of time and you can’t call ahead to see if the key is there.
Talking about a real expedition, all you will hear from the artist is that it requires “several hours of driving from Los Angeles plus the willingness to walk a long distance to reach the pool from the nearest road.” That’s about the only information that’ll be disclosed to you.
Once you reach the pool, you will need to unlock it and fold out the cover into a sundeck.
Thanks to a solar-powered filter and chlorination system, the pool stays cool and blue. If ever there’s a need to fish out tumbleweeds, a skimmer is also readily available.
Now this might be a deal-breaker for some. Because it is almost certain that a part of the pool evaporates while it is used, every visitor is required to bring a gallon of water to replenish the lost drops. That’s on top of all the water you will have to bring to quench your thirst on your way to and from the spot.
Although it is technically a “public” pool, it’s hard to access it if you can’t get the proprietary information that must be acquired at the museum. Keep in mind that you also need to enter into a kind of social contract where you have to vow that that you’ll take care of the pool and won’t reveal its location.
Imagine stumbling upon this structure by chance and discovering with delight that a pool is inside, but then realizing the key is at the Los Angeles Museum, which is 90 miles away. Will you break into the pool and leave it unlocked?
If you have successfully decoded the site location of the Social Pool, then you might be one of the first to dip you toes into this hidden oasis. The pool just recently opened and pool “season” is listed as beginning on May 1. If you don’t have a reliable GPS and the determination to go traipsing through a 100°F desert, you may want to discover other adventuresome destinations.