The Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. The park is located about 45 minutes from LA, between Santa Clarita and Palmdale. The Vasquez Rocks are a popular destination for hikers, rock climbers, and movie buffs - the area has been the backdrop for many film & TV shows including Star Trek.
The area is famous for its unique rocks, which have a striking appearance with tall, jagged rocks jutting up from the landscape. These rocks are made up of sandstone and were formed millions of years ago through gradual erosion.
One of the best things to do at Vasquez Rocks is to go hiking. The entire park is connected by trails, including parts of the Pacific Crest Trail, but the Vasquez Rocks Trail and the Vasquez Rocks Extended Loop are the two main trails in the park.
When To Go
This park is fully exposed with no shade. Given its desert-like climate, its best to avoid hiking during the middle of the day in summer months. I would recommend hiking in the winter or shoulder seasons, but even then the sun can be very strong. Make sure to pack sunscreen and plenty of water.
I visited in mid February and found that to be a perfect time because not only was the weather not scorching, but there was a great deal of green around the rocks due to all the winter rain southern California had gotten the weeks before.
Are Dogs Allowed?
Yes, dogs are allowed on the trails but must be kept on a leash. This is to also protect your dog as there can be rattlesnakes and coyotes in the area. One of the times I hiked there I saw a bobcat! I was with my dog but the bobcat truly wanted nothing to do with us and trotted away.
Drones, bikes, remote control vehicles, and open flames are not allowed in the park.
Vasquez Rocks Extended Loop Trail
Hiking the extended loop is the way to go if you enjoy hiking. And you are reading this article so I assume that you do. No hike in the park is grueling, and this trail is relatively easy.
I navigated the trail counter-clockwise using the AllTrails app to guide me. The first section was very hard to keep track of which trail was which, as there were dozens of smaller trails linking through. Without the app I would have for sure wandered down the wrong trail (Ok I did a few times). It was a bit of a maze, but in general the park is very hard to get lost since the markers of the rocks make it easy to find yourself. The difficulty comes with trying to stick on this exact trail until things clear up.
The elevation gain was 623 feet and the total distance I hiked was 3.73 miles. I was moving for 1 hour and 46 minutes, and the whole hike took me 1 hour and 59 minutes. So I guess I was taking photos and giving my dog water for 13 minutes.
The trail takes you through some of the rock formations and across desert terrain. You then gain some elevation and start getting incredible views of the park. You will follow the path through some rolling hills that head toward the highway, and then wrap back into the rock area.
After you pass by more rock formations you will find yourself on a flat plateau that is eye level with some of the rocks. This flat path will land you back at the furthest parking area where there are trails off to the side to continue your hike if you started at the Interpretive center.
A section of this hike is part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Horses also use portions of this trail so be mindful of that, especially if you have a dog with you.
If you don’t want to hike through the park, it’s a very easy area to just wander around and admire the scenery. A lot of people will scramble up the rocks for photos and impressive views, just be careful as it wouldn’t be too hard to take a tumble off these rocks. Climbers can be seen climbing some of the rocks near the furthest parking area.
If you are looking for a quick escape from Los Angeles, get some exercise in the process by hiking the Vasquez Rocks.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
CALIFORNIA: Top 12 Places to Visit in California