Kirk’s Rock is the unofficial name for the arguably most popular or prominent rock formation in Vasquez Rocks County Park. All rocks in the park were formed some 25 million years ago as horizontal layers of sandstone. Seismic activity compressed, folded, and uplifted these layers over time and erosive forces stripped away the loose soil. Today, many of these layers stand as impressive, spectacular, jutting slabs. The coarse-grained rock invites for fun slab climbing. Some of the slabs reach about 50 degrees and more than 150 feet high.
Kirk’s Rock got its unofficial name from several Star Trek episodes that were filmed in the park. In particular, scenes from the “Arena” episode from Star Trek: The Original Series (first season) were filmed at this rock. In these scenes Captain Kirk faced a one-on-one battle with Gorn, a humanoid reptile. Subsequently, many other Star Trek episodes were filmed here.
There are several ways to reach the top of Kirk’s Rock. Most people will park their car in the main parking area. Kirk’s Rock is the jutting slab formation immediately to the northwest of the parking. From the parking one can choose one of several possible climbs along the edges of overlapping slabs at a moderate steepness. You can climb from this direction all the way to the top. The steepness and of course the exposure increases as you climb higher. Most people however will pick a route that will lead to a small level area (balcony) to the west of the summit. From here you have a beautiful view over the northern parts of the park.
Kirk's Rock from the south
Kirk's Rock from the north
You can reach this balcony also directly from the west. If you park your car at the entrance of the park next and walk towards the main parking lot, you can veer off the road slightly to the west (right) and approach the western base of Kirk’s Rock. From here you can climb up the slabs directly to the balcony. This part is however very steep and you will be on all four climbing up.
Steep slab from the west
From the balcony you can climb again directly over steep slabs to the summit with short class 4 moves in the beginning to get on top of the slab. The summit of Kirk’s Rock is a small rocky point, which does not allow for more than one person to sit on. Exposure is very high, as you will sit on an overhanging, maybe 2-3 feet thick slab with more than 100 feet of air underneath you.
Top of Kirk
I personally find the climb to the top exhilarating, fun, and pretty safe if you have good boots or even climbing shoes. It seems that most visitors to the park want to get to the top. Many will reach the “rest” area, fewer the true highpoint. Of course, given the popularity and easy access, you will see many “climbers” on that rock, that should not be there.
There is no fee to enter the park. Collecting rocks is prohibited. If you want to climb some of the rocks you should wear good boots or climbing shoes. Bring enough water in the summer as it gets very hot.
Camping inside the park is limited to organized groups only (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc).
Exit the Antelope Valley Freeway (14) at the sign for Vasquez Rocks County Park. Exit at Agua Dulce Canyon Road and drive north into the the little town of Agua Dulce. Turn right at Escondido Canyon Road and you will see the park entrance to your right.