But it's really the history of this special place that gives it the remarkable feeling of stepping back through time.
"We encamped at the city of the rocks, a noted place from the granite rocks rising abruptly out of the ground," wrote James Wilkins in 1849. "They are in a romantic valley clustered together, which gives them the appearance of a city." Wilkins was among the first wagon travelers to fix the name City of Rocks to what looked like "a dismantled, rock-built city of the Stone Age."
California Trail pioneers were leaving civilization as they knew it in the East for new lives in the West. Some wrote their names in axle grease on rock faces, and their signatures can be seen today. This unique geologic area became a landmark in 1843 for California-bound emigrants. A few granite pinnacles and monoliths are in excess of sixty stories tall and 2.5 billion years old.