Carlsbad Skatepark

The world’s first concrete wave.

Skateboarder Cover
Carlsbad Skatepark, as featured on the cover of Skateboarder Magazine, circa 1976. Photo courtesy and copyright Warren Bolster.

The original Carlsbad Skatepark was built and opened to the public on March 13, 1976. The world’s first skateboard park, it was quickly followed by hundreds of newer parks across the globe. Within months of opening, Carlsbad’s bowls, snake runs, and moguls were overshadowed by newer parks that captured the changing styles of the dominant skaters of the day. Even so, Carlsbad Skatepark was the first ripple in the skatepark wave that swept the world in the 1970s—a wave that re-emerged in the 1990s and continues today.

Upper Mogul
The upper mogul area was built after the lower snake run and bowls that were featured in a 1976 issue of Skateboarder Magazine. Photo courtesy and copyright Warren Bolster.
Upper Mogul
The upper mogul area of Carlsbad Skatepark in 2004. Most of the park is just beneath the surface. A slightly excavated hip section is visible in the background at left.
Upper Mogul
There was a car dealer brochure for the 1978 MG Midget that featured the park, with MANY great photos of the skatepark with skaters galore performing, and the car sitting in the foreground right there in the park. Photo courtesy of Steven Michelsen.

After closing in the late 70s, Carlsbad Skatepark’s lower snake run and bowl area was used as a fishing pond for a couple years before becoming the foundation for Mike McGill’s Skatepark, a collection of wooden ramps set around the two bowls. But the coveted mogul area of the old park remained buried on the bluff above the ramps.

Carlsbad Skatepark was built on the edge of the Carlsbad Raceway property, an off-road auto and motorcycle track and drag strip that operated for about 30 years. The area had long been ignored by developers, but with the eastward expansion of North San Diego County and despite attempts by local skaters and skateboard companies to save the buried skatepark, the raceway and the old Carlsbad Skatepark property were developed into an industrial park in 2005.

Lower Snake Run
Overview of Carlsbad’s lower snake run. This area was eventually flattened after the park was closed and converted to a fishing pond. In the late 80s the vert ramp at Mike McGill’s Skatepark stood in the foreground at right. Photo courtesy and copyright Warren Bolster.
Miek McGill Skatepark Leftovers
Neglected for 20 years, debris from the ramps of Mike McGill’s Skatepark, which occupied the space in the late 1980s, is shown scattered over the original section of Carlsbad Skatepark in 2005.