Vasquez Rocks

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Vasquez Rocks
Vasquez Rocks April 2005.jpg
Vasquez Rocks
Location Escondido Canyon Rd., Agua Dulce, California
Nearest city Agua Dulce, California
NRHP Reference # 72000228
Added to NRHP June 22, 1972
Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is a 932-acre park located in the Sierra Pelona Mountains, in northern Los Angeles County, California. It is in Agua Dulce between the Antelope Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley north of Los Angeles and seen easily by motorists driving the Antelope Valley Freeway (CA 14).


The rock formations were formed by rapid erosion during uplift about 25 million years ago and later exposed by activity along the San Andreas Fault.[1] In 1873 and 1874 Tiburcio Vásquez, one of California's most notorious bandits, used these rocks to elude capture by law enforcement. His name has since been associated with this geologic feature.

The land and rock formations were acquired by the Los Angeles County government in the 1970s.

Vasquez Rocks was added to the National Register of Historic Places (site #72000228) in 1972 because of its significance as a prehistoric site for the Shoshone and Tataviam peoples.[2]


The Vasquez Rocks consist mainly of coarse-grained conglomerate and breccia sediments which were deposited adjacent to active faults during rapid uplift and consequent erosion of the San Gabriel Mountains. Approximately 25 million years ago (late Oligocene time), the collision of the North American and Pacific tectonic plates uplifted the area along the Elkhorn Fault.[3] Energetic erosion of the highland along with uplift and volcanism caused debris flow sediments to be distributed in alluvial fans into a rapidly subsiding rift known as the Soledad Basin.[4] These sediments were buried and lithified through the Miocene and became exposed more recently via activity along the San Andreas fault system.[5] The strata are now highly tilted, are disconnected from their source area and are deformed and offset by the later fault activity. The distinctive "hogback" ridges of steeply inclined strata serve to graphically demonstrate the significant fault activity in the area.

Role in entertainment[edit]

In 1935, Universal Pictures assigned Stanley Bergerman as executive producer on the film Werewolf of London. Bergerman suggested Vasquez Rocks as the filming location used to portray Tibet.[citation needed] Since then, Vasquez Rocks has been used repeatedly in motion pictures, television series, and in moving and still-image advertisements.

The triangular rock summit can be clearly seen in, for example, an Outer Limits episode called "The Zanti Misfits"; in numerous episodes of The Big Valley; in "Arena", an original series Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk rolls a boulder onto a reptiloid alien called a Gorn; and throughout a Bonanza episode called "Between Heaven and Earth".

The prominent rock formation has been nicknamed "Kirk's Rock" due to being featured in several Star Trek episodes, each time representing a different planet.[6] The use of the rock as a place to struggle with an enemy was echoed in the film Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey twice, once replaying the Gorn-themed Star Trek episode on the TV, and again when title characters are murdered by their doubles at the same location.

The Vasquez Rocks were also used prominently throughout all three seasons of the science-fiction television series Roswell as something of an important location for the main characters and their story. The area is also featured as the location of the Command Center/Power Chamber for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers throughout Power Rangers Turbo. In a Season 5 episode of Friends - "The One with Joey's Big Break" - Joey lands the lead role in a movie being filmed at the Vasquez Rocks (though the peaks are not seen on camera). Also featured in the movie Paul, and in the 2009 "South by Southwest" episode of NCIS. The final episode of New Girl season 1 is primarily set here with the Rocks prominent in the background.

In the Big Bang Theory episode "The Bakersfield Expedition," which aired in 2013, the four male protagonists appear to stop here, thanks to green screen, on their road trip to ComicCon in Bakersfield, CA. Since they have Star Trek: The Next Generation-themed costumes for the costume contest at ComicCon, they decide to have a brief photoshoot at the Star Trek filming site. Their stop goes horribly wrong when someone steals their car as they are taking pictures. In the episode "The Adhesive Duck Deficiency", the characters attempt to observe a meteor shower from "34.48° N, 118.31°W", the map coordinates of the Vasquez Rocks formation, to make it appear as if they were there.

See also[edit]

  • Bronson Canyon, another Southern California landmark used as a set for numerous films


  1. ^ Frizzell, VA, Jr & Weigand, PW (1993). Whole-rock K-Ar ages and geochemical data from middle Cenozoic volcanic rocks, southern California: A test of correlations across the San Andreas fault in: The San Andreas fault system: displacement, palinspastic reconstruction, and geologic evolution (Matti, Jonathan C.; Powell, R. F.; Weldon, R. J.,eds). Boulder, Colo: Geological Society of America. ISBN 0-8137-1178-9. 
  2. ^ "CALIFORNIA - Los Angeles County". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  3. ^ "Geology of Agua Dulce". 
  4. ^ Hendrix; Ingersoll (1987). Geological Society of America Bulletin 98 (6): 647–663.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  5. ^ "Vasquez Rocks: Geologic Overview". CSU Long Beach Geology. 
  6. ^ "Kirk's Rock". Television Tropes and Idioms. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  • Robert P. Sharp, "Southern California", revised edition, K/H Geology Field Guide Series, Kendall/Hunt Publishing, Dubuque, Iowa, 1975. Cover.
  • Vasquez Rocks (television use in Bonanza and Star Trek) - (also see its following page)
  • Los Angeles Orienteering Club - Orienteering Events
  • Hendrix, Eric D. and Raymond V. Ingersoll, 1987, Tectonics and alluvial sedimentation of the upper Oligocene/lower Miocene Vasquez formation, Soledad basin, Southern California, Geological Society of America Bulletin v.98, no.6, pp. 647-663.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°28′48″N 118°19′00″W / 34.479887°N 118.31657°W / 34.479887; -118.31657