Filmed in Utah: 9 Itineraries through Hollywood’s Most Iconic Settings

Here are a few film and television-themed trips and tips to consider for your Utah visit

Utah’s remarkable scenery has always inspired great storytelling. Stories are etched into the walls of the state’s red canyons, in the journals of its early explorers, and in the hearts of the locals and travelers as they road trip and recreate. 

Cinephiles and explorers wandering some of Utah’s iconic landscapes for the first time may get the feeling that they’ve been here before. Discover what Hollywood already has: unique backdrops for your outdoor adventures like nowhere else. Whether hitting the Sundance Film Festival in Park City and Salt Lake City in January or visiting Utah throughout the year, you’ll find yourself near some of the most iconic and most filmed places.

Upper Colorado Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Over the decades, the silver screen and television have featured Utah in thousands of films for the silver screen and television. While Utah’s striking, iconic, and diverse landscapes make it a go-to destination for filmmakers, the state is also a must-visit for road-tripping RVers and outdoor adventurers.

Add a touch of film history to your Utah itinerary or plan your trip around these iconic cinema locations.

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Star-Studded: The Jeremiah Johnson Itinerary

Extend your stay in Utah and explore the cities and mountains of the Wasatch Front. You’ll find big-screen settings and attractions near Park City, the center of the world-famous Sundance Film Festival. Head 45 minutes south to experience the Sundance Mountain Resort where you can hit the slopes in winter or have family-friendly adventures in the warmer months.

Compared to its neighboring Utah resorts, Sundance has a cozy, nestled quality, yet there’s plenty of room. Its 50 runs across more than 500 acres still pack in 2,150 vertical feet and the spectacular snow of Utah. This mountain escape is rich in film history from the setting of Robert Redford’s Jeremiah Johnson or the annual filmmaker workshops and events hosted by the Sundance Institute.

Natural Bridges National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Rugged Route: The Yellowstone Itinerary

Along the edge of Park City, you can drive by the 70,000-square-foot Utah Film Studios complex where productions like Hereditary and Yellowstone were filmed. Nearby you can explore the town of Kamas where you can hit the slopes in winter or have family-friendly adventures in the warmer months.

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From there, until you venture off the road, it’s all scenic driving all the time on the 56-mile Mirror Lake Highway Scenic Byway. Between beautifully developed campgrounds and endless, rugged backcountry, you’ll find the perfect stop to park your RV or pitch your tent for a blissfully cool night with a view just flat out away from it all.

Or continue driving north through the rugged mountain terrain of small towns like Oakley and Coalville to see some filming locations used in seasons 1-3 of the critically acclaimed Yellowstone series. End your trip by strolling historic 25th Street in Ogden and visit The Outlaw Saloon or catch a rodeo at the Ogden Pioneer Stadium where Yellowstone filmed several scenes.

Brian Head Resort before the snow falls © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Worth Your Two Dollars: Better Off Dead

You know what the street value of these mountains is? It’s tough to put a number on The Greatest Snow on Earth but its just part of what makes skiing in Utah so special for the people who ski here. See, Salt Lake City isn’t your regular ski town. It’s the only Ski City. With big city, world-class amenities galore and 10 different resorts within an hour of Salt Lake City, Utah ski trips can satiate any skier’s or snowboarder’s lust for powder, quest for groomers, or race down the slope to determine who will be the captain of the ski team.

Follow the film’s tracks at Alta Ski Area (skiers only) and Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon or Brighton Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Castle Valley Gourd Festival © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Cult-classic: The Galaxy Quest Itinerary

A visit to Goblin Valley State Park could be a quick day trip or an extended journey through the rugged and whimsical landscapes of Utah’s San Rafael Swell. Fans of Dean Parisot’s Galaxy Quest will recognize the setting for the Alien planet with a Beryllium sphere.

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The park’s main attraction is located at its heart. Here there are three established trails which are suitable for almost anyone. The trails lead hikers to overlooks, views of the surroundings, and deep within the maze of weird sandstone formations. But the best thing about the valley is that you are allowed to hike freely, off trail, to explore the hoodoos, mushrooms, or goblins on your own offering up unlimited options for exploration.

Castle Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. In the Know: Westworld, the Western Fantasy Itinerary

When it came time to shoot the HBO futurist drama Westworld, the production team had one clear vision of the West: Castle Valley. As The Salt Lake Tribune reports, “there’s no way to mock up the vistas in Castle Valley. Shooting there wasn’t just like stepping back into old-time Hollywood it was like stepping back into the Old West.”

Your visit to Castle Valley can include a hike to Fisher Towers, a scenic drive up the Upper Colorado Scenic Byway (SR 128) and rafting on the Colorado River. Of course, when in Castle Valley you’re not far from Moab, Dead Horse Point State Park, and Canyonlands National Park—also featured in Westworld. (Season two filming locations added Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area).

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Time-tested Classic: The Searchers Itinerary

This is the destination that put Utah on the Hollywood map. John Ford fell in love with Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park but the big screen doesn’t do it full justice. In some ways, Monument Valley is the definitive West.

Ancestral spirits infuse the rugged landscapes that feel foreign yet distinctly familiar thanks to Hollywood’s long love affair with this land. Enjoy hiking, jeep tours, horseback riding, and stargazing in Monument Valley, some on your own, some escorted and narrated by local Navajo guides.

Forrest Gump Point © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forrest Gump Point (the location where the iconic movie character declared it was time to go home) is another popular visitor stop. Add this area to your itinerary if you love westerns but please be aware this iconic photo-op is located along a highly-trafficked road (Mile Marker 13 on SR 163). Due to the road’s traffic leading to past injuries and fatalities, I urge you to take your safety seriously and refrain from taking photos from the middle of the road. Visitors are welcome to pull off safely on the side of the road and take photos from the shoulder only.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. The Western Outlaw: The Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Itinerary

Many travelers visit southwestern Utah to see the soaring cliffs of Zion National Park and to hike and mountain bike the incredible red rock landscapes. For movie buffs, this scenic corner of the state of Utah comes alive with nostalgia for Robert Redford’s iconic film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The complete list of filming locations includes the ghost town of Grafton, Snow Canyon State Park, the city of St. George, and Zion National Park.

>> Related article: Visiting Hollywood South: Louisiana’s Film Trail

Movie crew at Dead Horse Point State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. See Firsthand the Vistas: Thelma & Louise Itinerary

This itinerary brings a whole new meaning to hitting the open road. Perfect for fans of the 1991 adventure drama, Thelma & Louise, tour the exact places where the movie was shot.

And while the story takes place on a road trip that’s supposedly from Arkansas to Arizona, much of the movie was actually filmed in Utah from the looming desert mountain in the opening credits to the epic Grand Canyon car scene at the end.

If there’s one scene of Thelma & Louise that viewers may never shake from their minds, it’s the soaring car flying above the Grand Canyon at the movie’s end. While the scene is arresting on many levels, this wasn’t filmed at the Grand Canyon at all. Rather, it was filmed at Fossil Point, visible from Dead Horse Point State Park outside Moab. You can get a sense of the river canyon’s sheer scope and splendor from Dead Horse State Park’s West Rim overlook trail.

La Sal Mountain Loop © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Southern Wasatch to Monument Valley: Easy Rider Itinerary

Talking about freedom and living it are two different things. Utah’s iconic American West offers both the picture-perfect backdrops to freedom and the roads for living it. This itinerary follows the open-road inspiration of Easy Rider.

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It launches with a history lesson in Harley-Davidson and two scenic loops, Alpine Loop and Mount Nebo National Scenic Byway, before making its way south. This itinerary opts for the winding La Sal Loop for high-elevation views over Westworld’s Castle Valley before heading south toward Bears Ears National Monument. 

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While there are many places to stop and take it all in, a focal point of this tour is Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Stop for the long, sweeping, panoramic views. Linger late. It is sunset. You are a silhouette against the horizon. Sound familiar? Easy Rider captures the moment but it’s just one of the dozens of films shot on location in Monument Valley. Director John Ford made it famous specifically in Stagecoach and The Searchers.

Natural Bridges National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The trip then turns back north with options to tour the scenic drive around National Bridges National Monument and to take the spur into the North Lake Powell region. From there, it depends on your schedule and direction. If freedom calls, some of Utah’s best drives and parks are still ahead.

Worth Pondering…

It’s breathtaking. You can’t believe it. It’s very photogenic; it has a kind of mythic feeling of age, of legend…You’ve seen it in the movies, but when you see it in life, it’s so epic in its proportions that it almost stands for the whole of the West.

—Peter Bogdanovich, filmmaker