Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vasquez Rocks rock

If you take California State Route 14, northeast of Santa Clarita, the strange rock formation on our left may look familiar. Those rocks have been the backdrop for dozens of movies, including "Little Miss Sunshine," "Austin Powers" and "The Flintstones."
But the rocks had a more interesting role in history decades before Hollywood discovered the area.
The rocks are part of Vasquez Rocks County Park, named for Tiburcio Vasquez, the Mexican bandito who hid among the upturned sandstone slabs to elude the law back in the 1870s. Click on this page to read more on Vasquez.
The 932-acre park is easily accessible (only two miles from the freeway) and lined with easy single-track trails. Most visitors come to hike or boulder-hop but I like looking for the caves that Tiburcio and his gang may have used as hiding spots when the local sheriff was on their trail. You can also climb around and find what could have been the perfect spot for a Tiburcio ambush.
Some history books describe Tiburcio as a sort of "Mexican Robin Hood" because he allegedly distributed some of the loot he stole to the Mexican peasants in the area. But I suspect a lot of those tales are exaggerated.
Tiburcio's end came when he got "involved" with the wife of one of his gang members. The jealous husband got revenge by passing on Tiburcio's hiding place to the sheriff. Tiburcio was hanged and buried in San Jose.
Directions: From Los Angeles, take I-5 north toward Santa Clarita. Take State Route 14 northeast for about five miles and take the Agua Dulce Exit and look for signs to the park.
Hours: 8 a.m. to Sunset
Cost: Free
Drinking water and bathrooms are provided.
(Photo: Vasquez Rocks. Credit: Hugo Martin)

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