The Wanderoo Lodge property (formerly Joy Motel) was the second “Motel” in town. Opened by Ray and Chloe Freeman in 1929 as “Camp Joy”, the property started out as little more than a campground. We still have the spirit of the outdoors in our blood today!
The campground had a common shared shower and restroom, with some cabins having private toilets and showers. At that time all cabins had kitchenettes. People usually stayed for a week at a time and did their own housekeeping.
In the 1930’s more cabins were added and outdoor camping was eliminated. However, shared baths still existed. The swimming pool was built in 1932 as a privately owned public pool and is the only public pool Eureka Springs has ever had. The pool had showers and dressing rooms. The pool was cleaned and the water changed every two weeks until after World War II when filters and chlorine became a requirement.
“Camp Joy” became “Joy Court” right after World War II. The cabins were covered with rock siding and all were equipped with private baths and kitchenettes. Community baths were eliminated and the pool remained public. Beginning in 1960, a few of the cabins were torn down to make room for a new modern motel style structure right next to the pool.
Also at this time, the pool was closed to the public, the dressing rooms torn down, and the pool was converted to use by motel guests only. The name was again changed from “Joy Court” to “The Joy Motel.”
In the 1960’s and 70’s more cabins were eliminated and more motel style units were added. In 1967 the concession building was added and in 1973 the office was built. A new laundry building was built in 1985.
From 1999-2001, the owners started re-painting, cleaned up the property, and started working on landscaping. Queen size beds were added and the name was changed once again from “The Joy Motel” to “Mount Joy Lodge.” It was renamed “The Joy Motel” once again under new ownership in 2002. Metal roofs were eventually added and the pool was converted to the only saltwater pool in Eureka Springs.
In 2004 the Freeman family sold the motel and it went through a series of several owners in a short amount of time. Very little changed during this time, and the property was put up for sale once more in 2017. This caught the eye of Tim Freeman, the great-grandson of Ray and Chloe, who is a hotelier and grew up around the lodge. Tim bought the property with the idea of turning it into an outdoor adventure property, complete with a craft beer bar and kayak rentals. He renamed it “Wanderoo Lodge” in the fall of 2017, and began renovations. 10 rooms have been completely renovated, but all rooms have received upgraded appliances and a face lift. Ray and Chloe’s house has been restored and now houses the front desk and the Gravel Bar with a loft unit for rent upstairs. The old office is now Float Eureka.
The property is once again helping visitors re-connect with the outdoors and with the history of Eureka Springs. Explore. Sleep. Repeat.