Vasquez Rocks is a 745 acre Los Angeles County Park, located in Agua Dulce midway between Santa Clarita and Palmdale.
These towering rock formations are one of southern California's most famous geologic wonders. Its elevation is 2,500 feet above sea level. The rocks are actually pretty easy to climb around on if you bring a good pair of hiking shoes.
Self-guided geological and historical tours can be found along trails in the park. The Pacific Crest Trail traverses the park between the east and west portions of the Angeles National Forest.
The unique appearance of Vasquez Rocks has made it a popular location for dozens of movies and TV shows dating all the way back to a Rudolph Valentino film in 1905! Vasquez Rocks has been used as an alien planet for shows such as Star Trek, Buck Rodgers, and Starship Troopers, as a western background for Bonanza, the Lone Ranger, and the Magnificent Seven Ride, and as the prehistoric setting for the Flintstone's.
The Vasquez Rocks are formations sculpted by 8 to 15 million years of earthquake activity along the Elkhorn fault, an offshoot of the San Andreas Fault. Compressed, folded and tilted as much as 50 degrees, and up to nearly 150 feet high, erosion gradually stripped away soil from around the rocks leaving these ancient and spectacular creations. Course-grained yellowish-gray sandstone beds several feet thick make up these strange jutting and sweeping formations. Shale, basalt, and reddish-brown conglomerate can be found layered between the sandstone slabs.
From as early as 2000 B.C. to the late 1700's, the Tataviam, a tribe of Serrano Indians lived in the vicinity. Water was available on a year around basis from the springs at Agua Dulce. The Tataviam took advantage of the outcroppings by living beneath the overhangs and using features of the sandstone for certain utensils such as grinding bowls. Spanish contact in the 1700's changed everything for the indians. They were taken to missions where they consequently dwindled in numbers as they intermarried with other cultures. The little that is known of the Tataviam comes from artifacts found in archeological sites near the Vasquez Rocks.
Origin of the Name
In the mid 1800's a Robin Hood bandit named Tiburcio Vasquez and his gang used the caves and rocks as a hideaway from sheriff's posses and vigilantes who were always on his trail. The desperadoes would rustle cattle, rob stagecoaches, steal cattle and the like, then lose the posses in the intricate maze. The rocks served him well. Eventually, rather than being discovered in hiding, his weakness for women would do him in. Vasquez had an affair with the wife of one of his lieutenants. The angry husband had shot Vasquez and fled the area to inform the sheriff of the hideout. Returning with two posses there was a shootout at the tallest rock. Searching the captured and killed it was discovered that Vasquez was not among them. But the wounded Vasquez without his hideout couldn't escape for long. He was found in a shack in Cahenga Pass, taken to San Jose where in March of 1875 he stood trial and was hanged.
Vegetation & Wildlife
Plant cover at Vasquez Rocks is sparse. Local annual and perennial grasses are short and turn brown and brittle early in the summer. Chamise, yucca, California juniper, scattered scrub oak, manzanita and various succulent desert plants. Animals most frequently seen in the area include coyotes, gophers, jack rabbits, lizards, snakes along with blue jays, red-tail hawks and quail.
Getting ThereFrom Los Angeles, take the I-5 northbound to the Antelope Valley Freeway, the 14 east. You will drive about 25 minutes and will see the Vasquez Rocks off to the left-hand side of the freeway. Exit right at Agua Dulce Canyon Road and turn left, and you will drive under the freeway and across the Sierra Pacific Railroad and wind uphill until you reach Escondido Canyon Road. Make a right turn and you will see the park off to your right and will be right in front of it, as you enter from Escondido Canyon Road.
Red TapeNo admission fee. Vasquez Rocks is open all year long, but in the summer it can get REALLY hot so be prepared!This unique area offers visitors plenty of room for picnics, camping, hiking, climbing and horseback riding among the rocks.
External LinksVasquez Rocks movies
Natural Area Park
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