Vasquez Rocks

2/17/2015

When my dad first suggested we visit the Vasquez Rocks my initial reaction was "Umm...where?" He then showed me a picture and I immediately recognized the rock formation he was talking about. If you have spent a fair amount of time watching movies or television then you will likely recognize the famous, 45 degree angled ridge formation.

The Vasquez Rocks Natural Area is a 932 acre park, just a quick drive north of Los Angeles.  It is in Agua Dulce between the Antelope Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley and can be seen from the CA14 freeway. It's not a huge area, but its stunning rock formations make it well worth the visit. The fact that it is free is also a huge plus. 

The rock formations were formed some 25 million years ago by erosion and later exposed by earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault. They got their name from Tiburcio Vásquez, a famous Californian bandit, who used to hide out in the rocks. 

Before we explored anything we stopped at the visitor center. The visitor center was nicely put together and had information on the history of the area as well as a timeline of all the movies that the rocks have appeared in. I, of course, mostly got distracted by the assortment of snakes and lizards they had living there. The volunteer there was very helpful and suggested a route that we go on. 




Outside of the visitor's center they had a few birds that were being rehabilitated including this beautiful barn owl. He could only be seen through a few tiny holes in his enclosure.


Although the Vasquez Rocks are most known for their appearance in many movies including Star Trek, Blazing Saddles, and The Flintstones, what many people don't realize is that the area is part of the Pacific Crest Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,663 miles hiking trail which runs from the Mexican to the Canadian borders.  It is also the same trail from the movie and book "Wild". 

To be honest, I can't really tell you the name of the trail we went on. There are a few different trails that you can hike, but they don't really have any markings aside from some arrows on the ground letting you know that you are indeed on a trail.  Don't worry though, even if you find yourself a little bit confused of your whereabouts you can always use the famous rocks and the CA14 as reference points. We tried to follow the directions of the volunteer at the visitor center, but did end up getting turned around just a tad. She suggested that we go on the hike that took us to the tunnel. To get there we went past the famous rocks and across a long meadow with some picnic tables. Keep walking and you'll find a sign for the Pacific Crest Trail. Keep following the path and it will take you to a ridge with fantastic views of the surrounding areas. Continue on the path for a short while and eventually the path will split and lead you into the canyon. At first we walked right when we got down into the canyon but we turned back and went left which after a ways led to the tunnel. The volunteer wasn't very specific about what sort of tunnel this was and at first we thought it might be a sort of tunnel made out of the architecture of the rocks. The tunnel is actually a long manmade one which goes underneath the freeway.  



We certainly got a fright as we were walking through the dark tunnel and heard a loud booming noise only to look up and see a pair of huge great danes and their owner standing ominously at the end of the tunnel. We made our way through the tunnel although on the other side of it the landscape was not as interesting. I believe this is where the Pacific Crest Trail exits the Vasquez Rocks and continues on down to Mexico. 



We then made our way back through the tunnel, exited the canyon, and ended our day with a climb up of the famous rocks.







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