Thursday, April 24, 2014

Photo Essay: Garden of the Gods

Pretty much anywhere you go in LA, you'll recognize some scenery or building from a movie or TV show. The whole city – the whole county – is a movie set, and walking or driving through it is like taking a tour of a studio backlot.

Sure, there are the actual movie studios in Hollywood, Burbank, and Culver City, but there are also all of these dedicated movie ranches once used to depict the Wild West (or, the prairies of Southern Minnesota). Some are still used today, and others have been converted into tourist attractions, parks, and open spaces.



One of these such places was the Iverson Movie Ranch, a sprawling property in the Valley that flourished during the golden era of Western "B" movies, which ended in the 1960s.



Part of it – known as the "Garden of the Gods" – is a park open for bouldering and walking...



...with little sign that it was once the "most shot up location in movie history."



It's quiet and peaceful now...



...with few visitors...



...though development encroaches...



...and will soon turn these wide open spaces into just another homeowner's backyard.



It feels precarious, walking around there...



...with so many boulders standing on end...



...cracked as they balance...



...some already split right in two.



Nature has moved these giant rocks into the most nerve-wracking of positions...



...mimicked by the cairns along the trail.



The whole area is known for its sandstone rock formations...



...(like the famous "Lone Ranger Rock," seen in the opening credits of the TV show)...



...similar to those of Stoney Point, across the street.



Because of its exotic landscape, stories taking place not only in the Old West...



...but also Asia, Africa, and the South Seas have been shot here.



In fact, it may be the most "shot up" location in movie history...



...but also the most shot –



...having been widely photographed for 50 years.



You couldn't reproduce this on a soundstage.



There are plenty of longer, harder hikes in the area...



...that are more remote...



...but Garden of the Gods is an easy, accessible stopover...



...perhaps on the way to somewhere else...



...or perhaps to just get away from everything else.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Stoney Point, at the Santa Susana Pass
Photo Essay: Along the Old Stagecoach Pass
Photo Essay: Paramount Ranch & Raceway