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Vasquez Rocks Natural Area

April 16th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune

For thousands of years, people have escaped to the rugged and majestic Vasquez Rocks. From Chumash Indians around 450 AD to Mexican banditos in the mid 1850’s, to today’s moviemakers, these ancient outcroppings have served as a hideaway from the rest of the world.

Thanks to a “Greg’s Getaway” reader from Burbank I recently discovered the rocks for myself.

“You have got to check out Vasquez Rocks,” wrote Big Mike. “It was my favorite place in the world as a kid. My dad and I would go there every weekend and climb the rocks.” gregs pic

I followed Mike’s advice and visited the rocks last Sunday.

My getaway began around 11 am when I reached the dusty entrance to the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area in the city of Aqua Dulce, halfway between Santa Clarita and Palmdale. The first thing that struck me was that there was no admission fee. The second thing to hit me was the stunning site of giant weird rock formations jetting from the ground before me. It looked like a portal to another world.

At the entrance I found a small ranger station, where I picked up a map and some brochures. I then proceeded down a bumpy dirt road toward the megalithic monsters. When I got to the base of the stone towers I parked next to a few cars and a tour buses and then began my ascent up of Famous Rocks, the most prominent structures in the park.
Shooting from the ground like a jagged, 150-ft. tidal wave, the Famous Rocks angle toward the sky at about 50 degrees and can be climbed on all fours if you have the will and aren’t afraid of heights. I made it to the top and so did a few kids, women and men.

At the summit I took in a memorable view of the 25 million-year-old rock valley, including the San Gabriel Mountains to the west and the Sierra Pelonas to the north. I could see why the area has been a Hollywood filming favorite for the past 100 years. Filming credits at the park include television shows such as "Bonanza," "Big Valley,” and "The Lone Ranger," as well as big screen productions such as “The Flintstones,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Rat Race,” and “Wild, Wild West.”

Back at the bottom of the rocks, I had lunch on the tailgate of my Jeep and read how the rocks got their name.
It all started in the mid-1880’s when a bandit named Tiburcio Vasquez, and his band of desperados, began using the craggy rocks as a hideout. The group roamed up and down California rustling horses and cattle, robbing staging coaches and pillaging. With the law on their tale, the outlaws escaped justice for years until being captured in a shack in the Cahuenga Pass in 1875.  The bandito is gone but his legend lives on at Vasquez Rocks.

By Greg Aragon

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area is located at 10700 W. Escondido Canyon Rd, Aqua Dulce, CA 91390. For more info, call (661) 268-0840.

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