Flintstones Bedrock City
The Bedrock City in Custer, South Dakota may be reassuring and freshly painted, but it's still in South Dakota -- only open from mid-May through Labor Day.
That's why America is lucky to have a second Bedrock City, closed only on Christmas, in northern Arizona. With 365-days-a-year camping, this is a place for those who savor the Stone Age year-round. You haven't really traveled until you've spent a dark, cold, snowy afternoon in January at a cement recreation of a 1960s cartoon.
Arizona's Bedrock City stands out on a flat, windswept, rocky plateau south of the Grand Canyon. Built in 1972, it originally had a live Fred and Barney like the Bedrock in Custer -- but the isolation of the site and the lack of local workers eventually made that impractical. The isolation also meant that this Bedrock City has retained more of its original lumpy charm.
All of the buildings -- a general store, police station, post office, jail, beauty parlor, houses -- are barren, except for a few sturdy concrete items. They're painted in garish colors with Kelly Moore paints. The paucity of vegetation makes this Bedrock seem like an encampment of global holocaust survivors, or one of those ghost towns built by the military to test the effectiveness of atomic bombs.
For all of its eerie emptiness, this Bedrock is far from extinct. A Fredmobile tram loops in a circle and through Mt. St. Wilma (a volcano). The Bedrock Theater plays Flintstones cartoons with the audio broadcast over loudspeakers. U-B-The-Flintsones photo cutouts are available for treasured video and pix mementos. The snack bar has more selections than at the park in South Dakota, including Fred favorites such as Chickasaurus Dinner, a Fishasaurus sandwich, and Gravelberry Pie.
The Arizona Bedrock is licensed for merchandising by Hanna-Barbera, and although that confers benefits -- such as some stylish new fiberglass statues of the principal Flintstones characters -- it has drawbacks as well. Pressure platforms in front of Fred and Barney once triggered nutty audio patter, but the suits at Hanna-Barbera, blind to the multimedia needs of tourists, told Bedrock to shut off the tapes.