Vasquez Rocks Park is just a quick drive up the 14 from Los Angeles, and certainly worth the trip. I had never even heard of it until my buddy Chaz found it on Google Maps when looking for return directions from our recent camping trip to Saddleback Butte State Park. On the way home from that trip, we pulled off Highway 14 in Agua Dulce and did a bit of exploring in the area.
Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park General Information:
There is no fee to park or explore the area (which is incredible, considering that this is the first place I’ve been in the past two years that didn’t charge for entrance), and there’s certainly plenty of parking. A short drive on a well-maintained dirt road gets you to the parking area, which is equipped with a couple of chemical toilets.
Incredibly, residential homes overlook the area, which sits in a bit of a canyon, or bowl, edged by the mountains between the Antelope Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley. You can see the rocks themselves (far and away the main attraction here) from the freeway, but they’re far more impressive up close.
The Vasquez Rocks have appeared in a variety of movies and tv shows, including the Outer Limits, Star Trek (the old tv series and the latest cinematic remake), and an episode of Bonanza. They probably look familiar to you, though you might not be able to place where you’ve seen them before. At least that’s how it was for me.
This area is named after one of California’s most famous bandits, Tiburcio Vasquez, way back in 1873 and 1874, who used the place as a hide-out while trying to avoid getting captured. He’s got a great story, so check him out over at Wikipedia. The Rock formations were created by the San Andreas Fault.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
On the way home from our incredible camping trip to Saddleback Butte State Park, we decided to make a stop to check out the scenery on offer at Vasquez Rocks Park. I pulled off the 14, not really knowing what to expect, but was immediately overjoyed once had parked my car.
It was relatively busy, with a search and rescue training class working on ropes technique on the hills across the way, a college geology class on a field trip, and a handful of families hiking around the park. I was pretty happy with my new $6.95 straw hat. This thing is light, breathable, and provides enough shade to protect my arms (and camera) from direct sunlight. Watch for it in future photos!
Once the loud guy removed himself from the very top of the spire formation of rocks, I made my way up it’s face and sat on top, watching the crows gliding around down below. A pair of them were swooping around on the areas thermal updrafts, flying effortlessly, but noisily too.
I found the area beautiful, but far too busy, and was astonished that houses had been built so close to the rocks. If they had left the entire area undeveloped, it could have had a much more powerful impact on its visitors. As it is, the view from the top is stunning, but loses out on its ability to really move you.
We were exhausted, and scorched from our weekend in the desert, so we didn’t linger too long at Vasquez, but I’d love to return in the Spring for some hiking on a cooler day. It was well worth the visit, and I think these photos prove that this place is worth preserving.