Between a Rock and a Hard Place: An Ancient Refuge~


Vasquez Rocks State Park, located in Southern California, was created 25 million years ago by collision and uplift of the North American and Pacific Tectonic Plates. You can see the two people climbing in this shot (Please click to enlarge).

The park was home for thousands of years to the Tatavium Native Americans who left pictographs all over the park, some of which are 9000 years old.


Lying directly above the San Andreas Fault, these rocks were exposed and tilted more recently by movement along The San Andreas. See the person in this shot for scale.
The park is named after Tiburcio Vasquez, an infamous California bandit, who used the rocks to hide from law enforcement from 1873-1874.
The Pacific Crest Trail runs directly through the park.
The park has been filmed in countless movies and TV shows including Star Trek where different areas of the park were used to depict different planets. As a matter of fact filming was occurring at the site when we visited.

The precious ancient pictographs lie all over the park. Concerns have been raised by conservationists about their protection, but the powers that be believe the best protection lies in the fact that most people don’t even know they are there. There is an interpretive center on site and rangers do patrol. Southern California is actually full of ancient pictographs that most people don’t know about. (If you are interested in the pictographs, see the reference at the end of this post).

Cheers to you from the ancient and mostly empty Vasquez Rocks State Park!

115 thoughts on “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: An Ancient Refuge~

  1. What a beautiful park, and nicely descriptive photos of the varied tectonic activities. The people give excellent size perspective. I really like petroglyphs a lot and thank you for this introduction.

    1. We have kinda messed things up consdering we are such newbies, particularly in comparison with the Natives Americans who lived here for thousands of years without destroying anything~

      1. I little like it in the ruggedness and awesomeness and the fact that the native people revered these places, but the actual formations are quite unique. Your previous post on Red Rock Canyon was amazing too. When travelling the outback we came across some similar formations, but quite smaller.

  2. 25 million years! Now this is what I call ‘seeing’ the past, a kind of time travel. Such things give me goose bumps. Especially thinking what I could have been then. Maybe a rock somewhere.

  3. That Vasquez – – – he is just a hoot. Thanks for sharing another one of your interesting and educational trips with us. Let me know when you have your coffee table photo book on the market. Anselma Knoke-Adams sounds like a good alias.

  4. These things are amazing – the rock formation and the rock arts. For the rock arts, some do have rudimentary colors. But the amazing thing about them is they last till today!

  5. Thanks again for introducing us…well me…to so many new and interesting places. I would like to visit most of them, but think I will pass up the opportunity to climb these rocks.

    1. There are places in Borrego that are full of petroglyphs too that hardly anyone knows of……So mysterious. Messages from 9000 years ago! If we were only smart enough to figure them out!

      1. If I see the 9000 years old message, I’d be in tears… I’ve learned so much reading your travel post, it’s always educational and informative. Thank you again, Cindy.

  6. Some great images, Cindy. I like the way you captured some of the images with hikers in composition. It shows the great perspective of the size of the rock formations.

  7. These kinds of stilling the work of nature and human nature swells my heart. To realize the age of these natural wonders fills me with a renewed sense of hope. Decades ago on my first trip to the Southwest and West Coast I experienced my spirituality soaring. I instantly recalled the first time that I saw petroglyphs, I was stunned and joyful all at once. These are the thought that your wonderful images evoke. I can only imagine your own emotional response, which can be felt in your images.

    1. Oh, you made me tear up. You are an old soul to feel this and it is the wonder and joy and peace I feel when viewing the splendor and power of our natural world. It is deeply spiritual and provides the emotional sustenance that people need in order be happy and at peace. Thank you for knowing this & hugz to you~

      1. The planet is a marvel!
        Another marvel is that dear Robyn took her first few steps today and the joy of a new beginning radiates from her face.
        Cindy, you are so kind and considerate! I can’t thank you enough for your care and concern. Love Resa xo

  8. I was a contented resident of California for over 30 years.
    There are not many places that I have not been to and loved, from San Diego to San Francisco and everywhere in between~

    1. It amazes me how much people like to climb these huge natural structures. I’m glad they do because it creates the perspective I find strangely comforting of human infinitesimality in face of the vast grandeur of nature. Of course I always have to climb something too in order to get these shots! lol~

    1. It was quite a gas and I owe it my clever husband who suggested we go! Last night we were watching a movie, “A Single Man,” with Colin Firth and there were Vasquez rocks as clear as can be. My hubby spotted it before I did!

  9. Beautiful pictures!! I saw your comment on another site that you use a Sony DSC-HX300 camera. Are all the pics on this page taken with the HX-300? My Sony DSC-H9 recently called it quits and I am looking to purchase another one. Since my last Sony captured close to 50,000 shots and I feel the quality of the pics are great, I am considering buying the latest model. I would really appreciate your thoughts and opinion!

    1. All my pics since April 2013 have been with the HX300. I love it! Just got an underwater sony for the Caribbean and I’m looking at a faster one for the future for bird shots. I highly recommend the HX300 for general shooting. I clearly am staying with sonys. I find the technology quite advanced. Good luck and let me know what you decide~

  10. There’s just too much out there to see, Cindy. I need to come out there and live for a year or two…
    The terrain in this park is fantastic, to say te least. Looks like you’re just having toooo much fun !!!

    1. Gotta grab life by the throat and shake the heck out of it before it’s gone! I don’t want to die without have enjoyed life! I know you understand this better then most Paul~

    1. I was just over at your blog seeing if I had missed anything!!! We just saw it again by happenstance in a movie last night with Colin Firth called A Single Man……synchronicity!!!

  11. I always love Petroglyphs Cindy and have blogged on them several times. I am fascinated by both the art and possible messages. Peggy and I have visited a number of petroglyph sites in the Southwest. I think you are inspiring me to do another post. –Curt

  12. Pingback: Rock Talk~ |

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