With the Covid virus keeping us housebound for a year, and judging by the huge increase in streaming TV subscribers, we have all viewed more than our share of TV shows and movies. It’s time to get active.
We know from past correspondence that many of our readers are interested in the locations where movies are filmed. When we ran across an unusual LA County Park where dozens of movies and TV shows were made, we wanted our subscribers to know about it. It’s in the high desert of Southern California, and for us, it was an easy drive from our winter home near Palm Springs.
The place is the 932-acre Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park located in Los Angeles County, California. This park and its unique rock formations may be the one outdoor spot listed on the National Register of Historic Places where more movie stars and entertainers have clocked in for work than any other non-studio location.
The photos of the landscape should be familiar. Throughout the years, the “Rocks” have appeared in films when rough, desolate, and foreboding terrain is required as a backdrop.
The park’s TV credits are impressive
Here are just some of the Who’s Who of westerns and adventure series that have filmed episodes at Vasquez Rocks:
CSI, The Medium, Monk, 24, NCIS, Alias, Saving Grace, Twilight Zone, Buffy, The Lone Ranger, Wild Wild West, Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Man from Uncle, Maverick, The Rifleman, Mission Impossible, Bonanza, Outer Limits, The Fugitive, Alias Smith and Jones, Hunter, MacGyver, Rat Patrol, Charmed, Friends, Fear Factor, Lassie, Las Vegas, Logan’s Run, Zorro, Voyagers, Daniel Boone, Alien Nation, Rin Tin Tin, The Big Valley, The Cisco Kid, High Chaparral, Six Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman, Battle Star Galactica, Street Hawk, and of course – Star Trek.
How’s that for a walk down action TV’s memory lane!
About the movies filmed at the park
We did some research to try to find when the first movie was filmed at the Rocks. We read several articles asserting that a silent action movie starring Rudolph Valentino was made there in 1905. Unfortunately, the reports are all false since Valentino was born in 1895. We never did identify the first movie.
We do know that the classic 1931 Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, was filmed in part at the Rocks, and was followed by dozens of other notable movie productions such as, Apache, Hondo, Cheyenne, Laramie, Laredo, and Blazing Saddles. Also included – Werewolf of London, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, Austin Powers IMM, The Flintstones, and Short Circuit.
Let’s not forget the music videos
Music producers also find Vasquez Rocks a worthy setting. Michael Jackson did a famous dance sequence with American Indians at the Rocks for the hit music video Black or White, in 1991.
Millions of years in the making
The park’s ominous looking 45-degree toothy rock outcroppings are siblings to the San Andreas Fault. They were formed by a series of violent earthquakes over many millions of years. The jagged peaks rise 150 feet above the surrounding sandy desert floor.
If you decide to go
Vasquez Rocks Park is off the beaten path, but its raw beauty is worth planning a day trip to visit when you are in the Los Angeles area.
If you would enjoy a walk where Hollywood celebs have walked, the Rocks are the place. Park your car in the lot and take a short hike. Enjoy the desert beauty that has inspired the stars.
A few words of caution: There are scant facilities at Vasquez Rocks. The weather is subject to rapid change, so be prepared. Take great care if you plan to wander beyond the parking lot – there’s a lot of inhospitable desert out there.
The park is open to the public year round. There are several hiking trails, and the cliffs are accessible to climbers.
The park is located just north of Los Angeles, at 10700 Escondido Canyon Road in Agua Dulce, California, Take the Hwy 14 exit from Interstate 5, and drive about 20 miles east.
“Get out there, but be prepared.” Wear a mask and social distance when it makes sense to do so.
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You can plan your trips with Google Maps.
The opinions expressed in our articles are the journalists alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any entity.
Copyright © 2021 Visit great vacation destinations with Wayne and Judy Bayliff
Photos Copyright © 2021 Judy Bayliff