The True Hollywood Story of The Vasquez Rocks – Hollywood’s Favorite Rocky Set

The Vasquez Rocks are a strange set of rock formations about 30 minutes north of Los Angeles. Created by an earthquake along the San Andreas fault 25 million years ago, the formation was named after Tiburcio Vásquez, a notorious California Bandit who used the formation to elude officials in 1873-1874.

Tiburcio Vasquez was allegedly the inspiration for Johnston McCulley’s fictonal character Zorro.

Humble Beginnings

Being so close to Hollywood, Vasquez Rock quickly became a favorite shooting location of early pictures. Westerns such as The Texas Ranger (1931), Son of the Border (1933), The Girl and the Gambler (1939) utilized the craggy rocks to simulate the Old West.

In 1935, Stanley Bergerman, executive producer of “A Werewolf in London” cast the rocks as Tibet in the opening scene for his horror movie. This is the earliest footage of the Vasquez Rocks available on YouTube.

The Age of Westerns

The Vasquez rocks continued working in B-movie westerns throughout the 40s and 50s. But things started to get busy once Television arrived as western themed shows such as The Lone Ranger, The Gene Autry Show, Cheyenne, Gunsmoke, Broken Arrow, Bonanza, Laramie, The Big Valley, Laredo, The Wild Wild West, The High Chaparral, and Hondo all utilized the rocks in some of their episodes. Typecasted as a western set, the Vasquez Rocks even made it into the 1974 western spoof, Blazing Saddles.

Sci-Fi: A Star is born

But as Sci-Fi slowly took over the airwaves in the late 50s and 60s, the slanted rock formation took on a new alien persona… Shows such as The Fugitive, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Battlestar Galactica, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century would feature the site.

Outer Limits: The Zanti Misfits (1963)

But the Vasquez Rocks would finally enter “rock star” status in 1967 when a fateful crew on a ship called Enterprise arrived in a little show called “Star Trek”

From Episode 1-18, “Arena”

Since that fateful day when Kirk battled the Gorn, the Vasquez Rocks have been steeped in Star Trek History, being used again many times in the original series as well as in following productions.

As planet Vulcan in Star Trek IV

And again as Vulcan in the 2009 Star Trek Reboot

More about Vasquez Rocks and Star Trek History

Post Trek Career

The Vasquez Rocks remain a much sough after shooting location that has managed to stave off the typecasting that can come with an appearance on such a successful cult show. Here is just a small sampling of other films and TV shows featuring the rock face.

Alpha Dog

Amazon Women on the Moon

Army of Darkness

Austin Powers

Pixar’s Cars

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

The Flintstones

Friends

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Justin Timberlake’s Rehab Music Video

Little Miss Sunshine

 

 

Solid as a Rock

There doesn’t seem to be any slowing down of this 25 million year old rock although erosion will eventually wear it down.

To secure a filming permit at the Vasquez Rocks, contact the agent at Vasquez Rocks Natural Area and Nature Center

10700 West Escondido Canyon Road
Agua Dulce, CA 9139

Park Telephone: (661) 268-0840
Fax: (661) 268-1343

The park is open to the public
May 1 thru September 15 8:00am – 7:00pm
September 16 thru March 9, 2013 8:00am – 5:00pm


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