Tuesday Travel: From California to Cestus III

Gunsmoke. Bonanza. Kung Fu. Airwolf. Buffy. Literally hundreds of movies and TV series have featured Vasquez Rocks, 50km north of Los Angeles.

But to me, this will ALWAYS be ‘Lizard Rock’ – where Kirk fought Gorn to decide the fate of both their races.

Perhaps I’d best explain.

Vasquez Rocks is an area near the city of Santa Clarita made up of sedimentary layers that were thrust into the sky by movements in the Santa Ana fault.

The Tataviam people lived here until effectively overrun by Spanish settlers and their descendants – descendants including Tiburcio Vasquez, a bandido leader who used the area as his hideout (hence the name.)

But it largely came to fame as a shooting location for movies (starting with 1931’s Dracula and then 1935’s Werewolf of London where it stood in for Tibet) and Western TV series like Gunsmoke and Bonanza.

I’ve seen these rocks a number of times – including in a dozen iterations of Star Trek – but for me, the most memorable was the original series episode “Arena” .. where Captain James Kirk was transported by the mysterious ‘Metrons’ to fight the (unnamed) reptilian captain of a Gorn starship – and entire human race could be wiped out depending on the result.

When we were last in the United States, we made a short visit to Vasquez Rocks (… very short, in fact – we stuffed up the timing and the park was due to close in half an hour) – but at least we got the chance to grab a few happy snaps 🙂

And I will make sure we ‘transport’ ourselves back there, next time we get the chance

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