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Kirk's Rock

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The American equivalent of the BBC Quarry, a distinctive set of striated sandstone slabs, dozens to hundreds of feet tall, sharply-angled and pointed at their tops. Familiar from its use as an exterior location in any number of Science Fiction programs and Westerns (including the films Blazing Saddles and The Magnificent Seven Ride Again, as well as the "Sleestak Diner" scene in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), and no few automobile commercials. It is also the location of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, which was composited into the first five seasons of Power Rangers as the Command Center/Power Chamber building. The entire town of Bedrock in The Flintstones was constructed here. Probably best known from its several appearances on Star Trek over the years (especially the Original Series episode "Arena"), whence comes the popular nickname for one of the formations (and by extension the entire area). The movie Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey specifically points this trope out by having the boys watching said episode, before their robotic duplicates drag them out to the rock to kill them.

In reality these are known as the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, in Agua Dulce, California, once known for being a hideout of Tiburcio Vásquez, a notorious bandito who was one of the inspirations for the character of Zorro. This landmark is located about 30 miles north of Hollywood, which conveniently places it within the "Thirty Mile Zone", a union rule that declares any Hollywood-based production that takes place outside of this area to be "on location", and therefore requires the studio to compensate crew for their travel and accommodation expenses. Keeping film production within the TMZ therefore keeps labor costs down. Here's the Wikipedia entry, with a detailed history of "Kirk's Rock" in TV and film.

Compare Bronson Canyon and Caves and Down L.A. Drain, other Los Angeles settings used many, many times in film and television. See Hey, It's That Place! for a general listing of very commonly used locales. Not to be confused with Vasquez Always Dies.

Works Featuring Kirk's Rock:

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  • It appears in the background for a 2013 Spiriva COPD medication ad.

    Fan Works 
  • It is the location of the Guardian of Forever in the Star Trek fan film, Of Gods and Men.

    Films — Animation 
  • Cars: One of the rock outcroppings is drawn to look both like Kirk's Rock and the tail fins of some 1950s muscle car. It is a wink to the Cadillac Ranch in Texas

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery has an appearance as Austin and Vanessa flee Dr. Evil's self-destructing lair (in the Nevada desert).
  • Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie: The Rocks serve as a launch ramp for a mocked-up flying saucer. And Cooper (well, an obvious puppet) plummets from the top.
  • Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey: Lampshaded: Just before the boys meet the Evil Robots, they're watching that particular episode of Star Trek on TV. When the Robots drag the boys up to the rock to kill them, we even get a recreation of the dramatic zoom out from Trek. They are then murdered by being thrown from the top of the rocks.
  • In Blazing Saddles, Vasquez rocks is the site Hedy Lamarr ("That's Hedley!") recruits desperados for the attack on Rock Ridge.
  • The Flintstones: The entire town of Bedrock was built here. After filming, the studio left it up for a few days and allowed tourists in to visit the set.
  • Paul: Graeme and Clive visit Kirk's Rock and reenact the scene.
  • Secrets. Kirk's Rock was a popular shooting location long before Star Trek. In this 1933 movie, John and his ranch hand are riding through Vasquez Rocks when they see Houser the cattle rustler passing the other way with John's cattle. The cattle are passing right in front of the pointy rocks when they're seen in close-up.
  • Star Trek (2009): The landscape of Vulcan is a clear homage, with the distinctive shape of the rock formation repeating many times along the horizon.
  • Werewolf of London is one of the first movies to use this location, in this case as a stand-in for the Himalayas. It appears in the movie's opening shot, decked out with tents and fake Tibetan prayer flags.

  • Mystery writer Michael Connelly, who sets all of his works in a shared universe around Los Angeles, has mentioned Vasquez Rocks a couple of times.
    • Blood Work: The backstory recounts how detective Jaye Winston had investigated the case of a murder victim found at "a large outcropping of sandstone known as Vasquez Rocks." This is how she got to know Terry McCaleb, the protagonist who now needs her help investigating another murder.
      The slanted and jagged formation caused by tectonic upheaval was beautiful in the afternoon light. The sun was hitting the front rock faces at a low angle and throwing the crevices into deep darkness. It looked beautiful and dangerous at the same time.
    • The Lincoln Lawyer: Mickey Haller meets members of the Road Saints motorcycle gang at the "jagged formation" that is Vasquez Rocks. He sees some hikers eating sandwiches on the edge of a precipice and thinks that it's a bad place to have lunch.
  • In the InCryptid novel Spelunking Through Hell, Alice visits an arid Death World, and notes that the rock formations would fit in perfectly in an episode of Star Trek.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: While en route to a Star Trek convention, the guys specifically visit this location due to its use in the show. Their car is stolen while they are posing for pictures in their costumes in front of the rocks.
  • Charmed: In the episode "Soul Survivor", this represents a prehistoric environment into which Leo and Chris stumble through a time portal.
  • CSI: It appeared in “The Descent of Man” as the site where a holy man who called himself “The Holy Steven” was killed. It was a rare non-Murder as he was killed by a tortoise shell dropped by a bird.
  • Doctor Who. Homaged in "The Caretaker", which opens with the Doctor and his companion in a Noodle Incident where they've been chained up in the desert to die on an alien planet. A large Vasquez Rocks-like formation is in the background.
  • In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Seven Wonders of the World Affair," Napoleon survives a plane crash and wanders through the Himalayan desert until he passes out on the side of the rock, which is near the bad guys' headquarters.
  • NCIS: An episode has members of the team follow a lead in Arizona. In clear view behind them when talking to a local cop, Kirk's Rock.
  • In the first season finale of New Girl, the guys drive out into the desert to help Nick get over a breakup. The rock formation appears in the background of a few scenes.
  • In The Outer Limits (1963) episode, "The Zanti Misfits", this is where the aliens land.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Command Center/Power Chamber (aka. American Jewish University's "The House of the Book") sits on this rock, as it does through the following two series, Zeo and Turbo.
    • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: One episode has Red Ranger Leo forced to fight right next to them. It probably isn't a coincidence that his shirt gets ripped to shreds, forcing him to take it off, at the same time.
  • Roswell: The wilderness scenes heavily featured Kirk's Rock. The scenes of the town, including the Crashdown Cafe, were shot in Covina, CA. The season 1 finale reveals that the rocks themselves (outside Roswell) are actually the crash site of the alien ship that brought the protagonists to Earth.
  • Sliders: Featured in the episode "Electric Twister Acid Test"
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • The Trope Namer; the famous fight in the episode "Arena", takes place here, as mentioned in the description.
    • Also, this is where Lazarus' timeship is located in "The Alternative Factor".
    • And where Kirk fought Finnegan in "Shore Leave". The glade scenes were shot at Africa USA Ranch, a former wildlife preserve in nearby Soledad Canyon.
    • This is where Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Eleen hide out in "Friday's Child", and where Leonard James Akaar is born.
  • Star Trek: Picard. Used for a Mythology Gag when Jean-Luc Picard goes to meet Raffi Musiker, who is living in a house built right next to Vasquez Rocks. (The actual Vasquez Rocks. On Earth. There's a title informing us that we are at "Vasquez Rocks.")
  • Given that Westworld is both science fiction and Western series, there's the inevitable homage shot, seen near the sand-buried church in Escalante. Westworld has been constructed in accordance with its Western theme, right down the Monument Valley landscape of John Ford movies, so this is likely an In-Universe homage as well.
  • The Wild Wild West:
    • In episode, "The Night of the Cadre", West and Gordon defeat the fake Union soldiers at Vasquez Rocks with a knockout gas Gordon devised.
    • The climactic gunfight in "The Night of the Jack O'Diamonds" takes place here also.
  • Zorro: Probably one of the earliest use in television, and before they were called that. In the episode "The Missing Father", Zorro pursues a mysterious masked figure over the Rocks.

    Music Videos 
  • "High and Dry", UK Version (Radiohead) - The band performs the song on a set in front of the rocks - midway through the song, a sprinkler unleashes heavy rain on the band.
  • "S Club Party" (S Club 7) - The group performs the song in front of the rocks while also taking part in an automobile race against a group of teens from the 1950s.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama: As a direct reference to Star Trek: The Original Series, the crew winds up on a planet which just happens to have an exact recreation of the rocks. Leela and William Shatner end up fighting (and more besides) on them.