Joaquin Rocks is a rugged area of hard sandstone outcroppings located in the hills about twenty miles northwest of Coalinga. This area is dominated by three large rock outcroppings that overlook the San Joaquin Valley to the northeast. On the southeast edge of the rocks is a small flat area, known as Joaquin's Flat. Joaquin's Flat is located at the base of the 200-foot rock cliffs formed by Joaquin Rocks. These rocks, composed of Vaqueros Sandstone, were formed beneath the ocean 35 million to 40 million years ago.
Many people believe that this was the hide out for California's most famous bandit, Joaquin Murrieta and that his camp was located at the base of these cliffs. This camp is a comfortably level area carpeted with California wild grasses and surrounded by Gray Pine, California Juniper and Scrub Oak. While the camp is a pleasant place, most of the surrounding area is rugged rocks, Chamise, Mexican Manzanita and poison oak.
Joaquin Rocks are named after Joaquin Murrieta, a famous Mexican bandito who was believed to frequent this area as well as the Cantua Creek area to the north in the mid-1800s. Some folks believe Joaquín was an expert horse drover, but he and his gang become famous eight-week criminal rampage that began in January 1853 ... but yet, to some he was thought of as a sort of "Robin Hood" figure. Joaquin Rocks was also visited by other famous California bandits such as Tiburcio Vasquez.
Historically Joaquin Rocks were called "Las Tres Piedras" or The Three Rocks because they are easily identified from the central San Joaquin Valley as three large rocks that jut imposingly from the ridge. A small town called Three Rocks, located on California highway 33, near Interstate 5 is named after the fact that Las Tres Piedras are viewable from their community. Las Tres Piedras became known as Joaquin Rocks sometime around 1874.
Joaquin Rocks is located in the southwest region of Fresno Country at the southeastern end of Joaquín Ridge near Black Mountain as shown below.
On a clear day Joaquin Rocks can be seen from a 13 miles stretch of highway Interstate 5 beginning about 11 miles north of Cantua Creek (Highway 33) and for about 2 south of Cantua Creek. Joaquin Rocks are difficult to see from the northern-most portion of visibility from Interstate 5 as they about 18 miles away; they become more pronounce as you approach Cantua Creek as they are now about 8 miles to the south.
Joaquin Rocks consist of three large rock peaks called La Piedra Del Oeste (4003 ft.), La Centinela (4012 ft.) and La Catedral Grande (3980 ft.).
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