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Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks Photographer

I am a photographer who photographs couples, families, and events at Vasquez Rocks.

This high desert area in north Los Angeles County features prehistoric sandstone rock formations. As a (now reformed) nature photographer, I know how to make this location shine as a family portrait backdrop or as an outdoor wedding venue. Check out one of my favorite engagement sessions I photographed at this location.

Photography Permits

Permits are not required at Vasquez Rocks for individual portraits, family portraits, or engagement sessions. Commercial or editorial photography will require a permit.

Get Married at Vasquez Rocks

If your event includes 40 or fewer guests, you can hold your wedding ceremony at Vasquez Rocks.

Planning Your Ceremony

There are several important considerations when you're planning a wedding at Vasquez Rocks. They include:

  • time of day
  • weather
  • amenities
  • distance
  • landscape
  • other park visitors

Vasquez Rocks is a popular park and visitors are usually present throughout the day. Since the location is open to the public, visitors will be roaming everywhere and some folks may not be considerate of your ceremony and will appear in your wedding photos. To help avoid this potential issue, choose an early morning ceremony start time when the park gate is still closed. Although the park is open from sunrise to sunset, the gate doesn't open until 8:00 AM and that will likely allow you some measure of privacy.

Wedding Reception

Although small ceremonies are allowed at Vasquez Rocks, you'll need to hold your reception at a different location as those kinds of events aren't permitted.

How Vasquez Rocks Was Named

This desert location takes its name from the notorious bandit, Tiburcio Vasquez. He often used the rock formations as a hideout. The small caves, crevices, and overhangs made the area difficult for any posse hot on this trail. The tallest rock formation is 150-feet high and was a great lookout point.

Vasquez was an active outlaw in in California from 1854 until 1874. Some of his most notable crimes include horse rustling, burglaries, cattle thefts, highway robbery, and four bloody prison breaks.

The end of his story came when he was cornered by a posse in 1874 at a ranch located in an area now known as the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. He was subsequently sentenced to hang for murder. This undated portrait photograph of a Tiburcio Vasquez makes you wonder at what his eyes have seen.

Tiburcio Vasquez, Namesake of Vasquez Rocks

Popular Culture

Pop culture refers to the ideas, perspectives, and images that influenced or were influenced by mainstream culture. In addition to books and news sources, popular culture is most heavily influenced by film, television, and more recently music videos.

For this reason and given the importance of Vasquez Rocks in those media, we can see that this location has been an influencer for almost 100 years.

Movies

Vasquez Rocks is a great choice for filmmakers due to its proximity to Hollywood. This desert location first appeared in a movie during the opening scene for the 1935 horror flick “A Werewolf in London.” Here’s a list of just a few of the more recognizable movies that were filmed at Vasquez Rocks.

  • Army of Darkness
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
  • Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Bubble Boy
  • Cars
  • Deathsport
  • Dracula
  • The Flintstones
  • For the Boys
  • Forbidden World / Mutant
  • Futurama
  • In the Army Now
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
  • Jingle All the Way
  • Joe Dirt
  • John Carter
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Mom and Dad Save the World
  • The Muppet Movie
  • My Stepmother Is an Alien
  • One Million B.C.
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Short Circuit
  • Shrek
  • Star Trek
  • Star Trek Generations
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  • Werewolf of London

Television

As you might guess, Vasquez Rocks was first seen on the small screen as Hollywood’s go-to western backdrop. The subtle irony is that it really was an old west backdrop in real life which is the perfect example of art imitating life. The earliest western TV shows filmed here include The Texas Ranger (1931) and Son of the Border (1933).

  • 24
  • The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin
  • Airwolf
  • Alias
  • Alien Nation
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The Big Valley
  • The Bionic Woman
  • Bonanza
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Charmed
  • The Cisco Kid
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
  • Daniel Boone
  • Fantasy Island
  • The Fall Guy
  • Fear Factor
  • Friends
  • The Fugitive
  • The Greatest American Hero
  • Gunsmoke
  • Have Gun — Will Travel
  • The High Chaparral
  • Hunter
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Kung Fu
  • Las Vegas
  • Lassie
  • Logan's Run
  • The Lone Ranger
  • MacGyver
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • Maverick
  • Medium
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
  • Mission: Impossible
  • Monk
  • NCIS
  • New Girl
  • Numb3rs
  • The Outer Limits
  • The Pretender
  • Prey
  • The Rat Patrol
  • The Rifleman
  • Saving Grace
  • The Six Million Dollar Man
  • Sliders
  • Space: Above and Beyond
  • Star Trek: Enterprise
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
  • Star Trek: Voyager
  • The Twilight Zone
  • Voyagers!
  • Westworld
  • The Wild Wild West
  • Zorro

Music Videos

  • Enrique Iglesias in "Be with You"
  • Michael Jackson in "Black or White"
  • Timbuk3 in "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"
  • Radiohead in "High and Dry" (UK version)
  • Marilyn Manson in "Mobscene"
  • Rihanna (feat. Justin Timberlake) in "Rehab"
  • One Direction in "Steal My Girl"
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in "You Got Lucky"

Star Trek - The Arena

Although Vasquez Rocks has been an incredibly popular filming location, it's perhaps most famous because of it's use in the 1967 Star Trek episode titled "The Arena."

Bobby Clark

Bobby Clark was the uncredited actor inside the Gorn suit. His filmography also also includes work as a stunt man on Gunsmoke, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Virginian, and many other films and TV shows during the 60s and 70s.

Bird Checklist

Birdwatchers of all skill levels love Vasquez Rocks County Park for the wide variety of birds found in this area.

Photographing the birds you see is a fun activity for the solo hiker or families of all ages. Most birds are most active in the evening and the early morning.

  • Acorn Woodpecker (resident migrant)
  • Allen's Hummingbird (unconfirmed migrant)
  • American Goldfinch (unconfirmed resident)
  • American Kestrel (confirmed resident)
  • American Robin (unconfirmed resident)
  • Anna's Hummingbird (unconfirmed resident & breeder)
  • Ash-throated Flycatcher (unconfirmed summer visitor)
  • Band-tailed Pigeon (unconfirmed resident)
  • Barn Owl (confirmed resident)
  • Barn Swallow (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Bewick's Wren (confirmed resident)
  • Black Phoebe (unconfirmed resident)
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Black-chinned Sparrow (presence unconfirmed but suspected)
  • Black-headed Grosbeak (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (presence unconfirmed but suspected)
  • Black-throated Gray Warbler (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Blue Grosbeak (presence unconfirmed but suspected)
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (unconfirmed winter visitor)
  • Brown Creeper (unconfirmed resident)
  • Brown-headed Cowbird (occasional summer visitor)
  • Bullock's Oriole (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Bushtit (confirmed resident)
  • California Quail (confirmed resident)
  • California Scrub Jay (confirmed resident)
  • California Thrasher (unconfirmed resident)
  • California Towhee (confirmed resident)
  • Cedar Waxwing (unconfirmed winter visitor)
  • Chipping Sparrow (presence unconfirmed but suspected)
  • Cliff Swallow (confirmed migrant)
  • Common Raven (confirmed resident & breeder)
  • Common Yellowthroat (unconfirmed resident & breeder)
  • Cooper's Hawk (unconfirmed resident)
  • Costa's Hummingbird (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Dark-eyed "Oregon" Junco (winter visitor)
  • Eurasian Collared Dove (I) (confirmed resident)
  • European Starling [I] (confirmed resident & breeder)
  • Fox Sparrow (unconfirmed resident)
  • Golden Eagle (confirmed resident)
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow (unconfirmed winter visitor)
  • Great Horned Owl (unconfirmed resident)
  • Greater Roadrunner (unconfirmed resident)
  • Hermit Warbler (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Hooded Oriole (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Horned Lark (unconfirmed winter visitor)
  • House Sparrow [I] (unconfirmed resident)
  • Lark Sparrow (presence unconfirmed but suspected)
  • Lawrence's Goldfinch (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Lazuli Bunting (confirmed resident)
  • Lesser Goldfinch (confirmed resident)
  • Lewis' Woodpecker (unconfirmed resident)
  • Lincoln's Sparrow (confirmed winter visitor)
  • Loggerhead Shrike (unconfirmed resident)
  • MacGillivray's Warbler (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Mallard (unconfirmed resident)
  • Mountain Bluebird (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Mountain Chickadee (unconfirmed resident)
  • Mourning Dove (confirmed resident)
  • N. Rough-winged Swallow (confirmed migrant)
  • Nashville Warbler (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Northern Flicker [Red-shafted] (unconfirmed resident)
  • Northern Harrier (confirmed resident)
  • Northern Mockingbird (unconfirmed resident)
  • Nuttall' s Woodpecker (unconfirmed resident)
  • Oak Titmouse (confirmed resident)
  • Orange-crowned Warbler (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Phainopepla (confirmed summer visitor)
  • Pine Siskin (confirmed winter visitor)
  • Prairie Falcon (unconfirmed resident)
  • Purple Finch (presence unconfirmed but suspected)
  • Red-shouldered Hawk (unconfirmed resident)
  • Red-tailed Hawk (confirmed resident)
  • Red-winged Blackbird (confirmed resident & breeder)
  • Rock Dove (unconfirmed resident & breeder)
  • Rock Wren (unconfirmed winter visitor)
  • Ruby-crowned Kingret (confirmed migrant)
  • Rufous Hummingbird (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Rufous-crowned Sparrow (presence unconfirmed but suspected)
  • Sage Sparrow (presence unconfirmed but suspected)
  • Savannah Sparrow (presence unconfirmed but suspected)
  • Say's Phoebe (unconfirmed winter visitor)
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk (unconfirmed winter visitor)
  • Solitary Vired (presence unconfirmed but suspected)
  • Song Sparrow (confirmed resident & breeder)
  • Spotted Towhee (unconfirmed resident)
  • Townsend's Warbler (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Turkey Vulture (confirmed resident)
  • Violet-green Swallow (confirmed migrant)
  • Warbling Vire (common migrant)
  • Western Bluebird (confirmed resident)
  • Western Kingbird (unconfirmed summer visitor)
  • Western Meadowlark (confirmed winter visitor)
  • Western Screech Owl (unconfirmed resident)
  • Western Tanager (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Western Wood-Pewee (unconfirmed migrant)
  • White-breasted Nuthatch (presence unconfirmed but suspected)
  • White-crowned Sparrow (confirmed winter visitor)
  • White-throated Swift (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Wilson's Warbler (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Wrentit (unconfirmed resident)
  • Yellow Warbler (unconfirmed migrant)
  • Yellow-breasted Chat (presence unconfirmed but suspected)
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler (confirmed winter visitor)