Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, Agua Dulce, California, USA
Posted by: budgettravel 2 years, 7 months ago
Not too far from Los Angeles (less than an hour), lies the magnificent slanted rocks of Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, a 900-acre County Park. Massive rocks pushed up to 50 degree angles greeted us less than a mile from the Visitor Center. The Vasquez Rocks are a geological wonderland.
Walking towards the "Famous Rocks", Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, California
Along the Nature Heritage Trail that we took, we came across a Native American archaeological site. The Tataviam tribe lived here for 4300 years (as CA back as 2000 BC) and lived during the time of the Spanish colonization. Due to inter-marriage, the Tataviam tribe slowly disappeared. The last full-blooded Tataviam died in the 1920s. The archaeological site that we saw was small, featuring a couple of grinding bowls, dwelling sites and some pictographs. The Visitor Center carries free printouts of information for both the Tataviam tribe and the geological history of the area.
Climbing onto the "Famous Rocks", Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, California
Just a little further along we came across the “Famous Rocks”. Many layers of giant rocks jutted out of the earth at angles of up to 50 degrees. The rocks have been positioned in this way through earthquake movement for 20 million years. The rocks here have been folded, tilted and compressed by activity along the Elkhorn Fault, an offshoot of nearby San Andreas fault. My kids had fun climbing on these rocks to the top of the ridge. I expected to find amazing views from here,but instead saw a movie being filmed. We were instructed to go no further. If these rocks look familiar to you, it's probably because it has been used as a set of several movies and commercials in the past century or so. The more recent ones are the Flintstones and Planet of the Apes. Episodes of CSI, Rosswell and Star Trek have also been filmed here.
Panaroma of Slanted Rocks in the distance, Vasquez Rocks, California
So we veered away from the glitz of the movies, and headed into the hills. We followed a trail that led us to the top of some rocks which gave us a view of the surroundings. Unfortunately civilization wasn't too far away. A busy road and some houses sat not too far in the horizon, though at that point, we couldn't hear the road. We marveled at more slanted rocks and some large gently eroded rounded rocks. We spotted a few birds floating in the wind. I had read that owls nest in these rocks but did not spot any ourselves.
Gently Curving Rocks also found at Vasquez Rocks, California
Our trail intersected with the Pacific Crest Trail, which traverses the United States from Mexico to Canada. Our approximately 3.5 mile trail took us into more slanted and curvaceous rocks adorned by yuccas and an occasional pink-flowered cactus. The trail on this side was very quiet; we met only a couple of hikers, though the winds did bring the noise of the road our way here. We visited on an overcast Wednesday afternoon in early April with temperatures of approximately 85F. Sunscreen, hats and water are our usual protection from the heat. I would rate the trail condition as fairly easy, though not wheelchair accessible.
Walking below the Massive Rocks, Vasquez Rocks, California
The Visitor Center provided us with cold water and clean bathrooms. There are exhibits of animals (snakes), history of the people that lived in the area and movies filmed in park. There are picnic tables close by, though the outside bathrooms looked like there were not operational. There are also parking lots closer in to the famous rocks for those who cannot walk. Be sure to pick up a map of the hiking trails at the Visitor Center, the trails are not clearly marked.
Practical Information (as of April 2016):
Address: 10700 West Escondido Canyon Rd, Agua Dulce, CA
Features: Huge Slanted Rocks, Natural Movie Set
Visitor Center hours: closed Mondays, Tues-Sun 8am-4pm
Website: Vasquez Rocks Natural Area
Hike distance: approximately 4 miles
Warning: The safety of these adventures are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to: terrain, weather, wildlife, hiker skill level, human error, and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information provided at the time of publication, we do not assume any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided. As such, we will not be held responsible for any harm, injury, and/or loss that may result. Your personal judgement on the safety of each adventure is required at all times. Please use your own discretion and be safe.
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