Vasquez Rocks County Park – Agua Dulce, CA

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 - Reaching Into the Deep Blue

Vasquez Rocks County Park – Reaching Into the Deep Blue

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.

Sean Resting Near the Peak

Sean Resting Near the Peak

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.

Looking Across the Canyon to the Other Side

The Other Side (sans Sean)

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.

Overlooking the Parking Lot & the 14 Freeway

Overlooking the Parking Lot & the 14 Freeway

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.

Closer View Across the Canyon - Watching the Crows Soar

Closer View Across the Canyon – Watching the Crows Soar

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.

Search & Rescue Training Operations

Search & Rescue Ropes Training

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!

Chaz Relaxing on the Opposing Ridgeline

Chaz Relaxing on the Opposing Ridgeline

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.

Sean Heads Back Down Toward the Parking Lot

Sean Heads Back Down Toward the Parking Lot

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.

My Parting Shot - Beautiful Open Space, Right Here in SoCal!

My Parting Shot – Beautiful Open Space, Right Here in SoCal!

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.

This entry was posted in California, County Parks, Day Hikes, Featured Posts, South West, Southern California, Trip Reports, United States. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Vasquez Rocks County Park – Agua Dulce, CA

  1. Rob says:

    Hey Tim,

    Awesome blog! So happy I came across it. I’m from SoCal and trying to get into the hiking/backpacking hobby and wondering if you know of any good hike-in secluded locations in SoCal that would be good for a group of 4 beginners. I’ve camped at numerous campgrounds before, but this will be the first time we’re putting everything we need on our backs and hiking to a remote area. I’ve been doing some googling but after an hour I’m still coming up short. Any insight/advice you can give will be so greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Rob

    PS – Keep up the good work. You’ve got one new reader here! 🙂

  2. Tim says:

    Hey Rob, thanks for the kind words! I’d probably give Spruce Grove a shot as a first effort – it’s a relatively short hike (about 4 miles) with some big payoffs, including Sturtevant Falls (a serious sized waterfall near the beginning of the hike), mountain vistas overlooking the Los Angeles area, and some interesting forests. Check out my post on Spruce Grove here: http://www.chayacitra.com/2010/02/spruce-grove-campground-angeles-national-forest/.

    If you’d like to try something a lot easier, and much flatter, then go for Point Mugu’s walk in campgrounds in La Jolla Canyon. Don’t let the Rangers tell you they don’t exist! There’s quite a few spots, and they’re really neat. I’m sure it’s beautiful right now too with all the water, but beware of mosquitoes as this is prime country for them. This hike can be as short as a mile from start to campground, or as long as you want if you take the windy way there. Check out my post on Point Mugu here: http://www.chayacitra.com/2010/03/point-mugu-camping/

    Those are great first efforts, and I think you’ll do well starting off with them. If you’re interested in some real roughing-it, you could try Joshua Tree or Death Valley, but that’d be a bit dangerous as those are extreme climates requiring you to really be on top of your game (and carry ALL of your water!).

    Wherever you decide to go, have a great trip and good luck!

  3. Goplatas says:

    it is awosome place to take a hike for pets and people.

  4. Dave says:

    Where’d you get your straw hat?

  5. Chayacitra says:

    A Mexican grocery store in Lancaster. Pretty sure it was only $6. It actually lasted a few years too, though I’ve finally had to get rid of it due to too much cracking and such. If I find myself out that way again though, you can bet your ass I’m buying a new one!

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