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2024 Marks 100 Years of Utah Film and Television

by | Apr 16, 2024 | Press Releases

March 2024: From Thelma & Louise to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Utah’s iconic landscapes have been featuring in popular TV shows and movies for 100 years.

Once known as “Little Hollywood,” Utah’s unforgettable terrain has made the state a popular backdrop for filmmakers since the production of two 1924 silent films, The Deadwood Coach and The Covered Wagon. Over the years, Utah has slipped into countless roles, sometimes as different states or even different planets. The iconic red rock backdrop has set the scene for many blockbusters from the opening scenes of Misson Impossible II, the race back in time in Back to the Future III and the real-life landscapes of Westworld to name just a few.

The Utah film commission will celebrate the 100-year milestone and all the people, locations and productions that have made Utah. America’s film set® with a year of exhibits, events and film screenings across the state. To learn more on how to join in the celebrations see: https://film.utah.gov/100years/

Here’s where to go to put yourself right on the set of just some of your favourite Utah movies:

  1. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)

Utah locations: Zion National Park, St. George, Grafton and Snow Canyon

Paul Newman and Robert Redford played the iconic roles, but the real Butch Cassidy was born and bred in Utah and the film stays true to his roots, shooting plenty of action in locations from the pretty town of St. George and nearby Snow Canyon State Park to the sprawling majesty of Zion National Park.

Hike the Cassidy Trail – This eight-mile trail in southwestern Utah’s Red Canyon can be tackled on foot, by bike or in the saddle and is the same one the notorious Butch Cassidy used to evade the law, becoming part of what was known as the “Outlaw Trail”. Red Canyon remains a relatively hidden gem in the Dixie National Forest between Bryce and Zion national parks.

  1. THELMA AND LOUISE (1991)

Utah locations: Canyonlands National Park, Cisco, Dead Horse Point State Park, La Sal Mountains, Thompson Springs, Mexican Hat, West Valley City and Moab

The story of two unlikely outlaws (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) and their climactic road trip was filmed predominantly in Utah, including the unforgettable climax at Dead Horse Point State Park where they take their final, fatal plunge.

  1. INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989)

Utah locations: Moab and Arches National Park

Harrison Ford and on-screen father Sean Connery team up in a race to secure the Holy Grail. Visit Arches National Park and take a hike to the famous Double Arch where River Phoenix portrayed the adolescent Indy in the movie’s memorable opening sequence.

  1. FORREST GUMP (1994) – Celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2024

Utah locations: Monument Valley and Mexican Hat

“Run Forrest, run!” And run he did, all the way to Highway 163 in Utah’s Monument Valley. The dramatic red rock backdrop is impossible to miss and make sure you stop to take a selfie at ‘Forrest Gump Point’ near mile marker 13.

  1. DUMB AND DUMBER (1994) – Celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2024

Utah locations: Lakepoint, Provo, Orem, Park City, Sandy and Salt Lake City

Plenty of choice here! Playing the ridiculous Lloyd Christmas, Jim Carrey drives a limo to Salt Lake City Airport, dreams of returning a beautiful woman’s briefcase at upscale (and real) French restaurant La Caille, narrowly escapes death at the Provo Marriott and accidentally shoots an owl in Park City – the ski resort town where the Sundance Film Festival is hosted annually.

  1. Footloose (1984) – Celebrating 40th Anniversary in 2024

Utah Locations: Payson, Utah

Northern Utah stars alongside Kevin Bacon in this iconic film that will make you want to put your dancing shoes on! Filmed entirely in Utah, the alpine scenery of the north of the state is a great backdrop to this story about a teenager determined to bring dancing back to a small American town.

Places to stay:

Parry Lodge – Home to western legends of Utah’s ‘Little Hollywood’, Parry Lodge was founded by three brothers in 1931 to feed and house cast and crew that were filming in the Kanab area. It has hosted some of the biggest names from the golden age of film from John Wayne to Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck and Ronald Reagan. The barn is now a western theatre where guests can watch some of the films made in the area. And Kanab’s landscapes have been used in multiple classic Westerns of both big and small screens, including Gunsmoke and The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Twilight Moon Ranch – Located only 25 minutes from Park City, this private ranch is featured in Yellowstone. The ranch sleeps 22 guests and includes a Viking BBQ fire pit, an in-ground hot tub, and a private trout fishing lake for guests to enjoy.

Sundance Mountain Resort – Robert Redford bought the land now known as Sundance in 1969. The resort was the starting point for the Sundance Film Festival – now held in Park City 45 minutes away – and boasts 450 skiable acres; visit during the festival for some of the best skiing in the Sundance and Park City area as the slopes empty during the main events.

Goulding’s Lodge – Goulding’s Lodge offers guided jeep tours of Monument Valley led by local Navajo guides who grew up in and around the area. Experience spectacular canyons, buttes and mesas and stop at locations where John Ford, John Wayne and many other legendary figures of the southwest have left their footprints. When the sun sets guests can watch the iconic backdrop in action on screen in an old western film or two shown nightly at Earth Spirit Theatre.

For more information on Utah and to plot a cinematic drive through the state see: www.visitutah.com