Awards season is underway and with the Sundance Film Festival approaching (24 January – 3 February 2019), its home state of Utah is gearing up for a year of big screen anniversaries. Here are the major movie milestones to look out for and how to set-jet Utah’s larger than life locations.
The legendary setting for John Ford Westerns in the 1940s and 1950s, Utah has been described as the “the iconic American West”, its striking scenery appearing in everything from Thelma and Louise to Westworld. The connection Utah has with the Old West still lives on in the lives of many Utahns; the cowboy culture thrives in the lives of those living and working on one of the State’s many ranches and farms. Whilst the romance of life under the stars in a spectacular setting of mountains, mesas, and colourful buttes and spires is readily available for visitors to embrace.
Anniversaries for 2019 include:
Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, 50th Anniversary – Starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford this seminal Western won four Academy Awards in 1970 including Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Based on a true wild west story, the film immortalised the lawless adventures of Robert Leroy Parker – born in Beaver, Utah – and the Wild Bunch. As well as visiting movie locations including Zion National Park, St George, Grafton Ghost Town and Snow Canyon State Park, fans of the film can track down the real Wild Bunch hideouts and stay at Robert Redford’s Sundance Mountain Resort.
Forrest Gump, 25th Anniversary – Monument Valley is no stranger to appearing on the big screen, its remarkable sandstone buttes and red-sand landscape featuring in everything from The Lone Ranger to Back to the Future III and Doctor Who. It was here on Highway 163 that Forrest Gump ended his epic run around the USA.
Easy Rider, 50th Anniversary – Visitors to Monument Valley can also follow in the tracks of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, the stars of quintessential hippy, road trip film Easy Rider.
Stagecoach, 80th Anniversary – Another landmark Western, Stagecoach was directed by John Ford and saw John Wayne in his breakthrough role. It was the first of many Westerns shot by Ford in Monument Valley.
Dumb & Dumber, 25th Anniversary – The cult comedy was filmed in various Utah locations including Salt Lake City, Park City, Orem, Sandy and Heber City.
Union Pacific 80th Anniversary – Directed by Cecil B DeMille, Union Pacific tells the story of a plot to derail the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad. This cinematic milestone coincides with the 150th anniversary of the actual completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad, which occurred on 10 May 1869, when the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads were formally connected and opened for through traffic. President of the Central Pacific, Leland Stanford ceremonially drove the gold “Last Spike” with a silver hammer at Promontory Summit. Anniversary celebrations are being brought together under the name ‘Spike 150’ over the weekend of 10 May and throughout the summer of 2019.
How to explore the Utah of the movies:
Hike the Cassidy Trail – This eight-mile trail near Bryce Canyon National Park 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 in southwestern Utah, one of the prime filming locations for the 1969 movie. The trail snakes through spectacular crimson-coloured cliffs and underneath majestic clusters of 60-million-year-old limestone pinnacles and spires known as hoodoos.
Stay at Parry Lodge – Home to western legends of Utah’s ‘Little Hollywood’, Parry Lodge was founded by the Parry Brothers, Whit, Chauncy and Gronway, in 1931 to feed and house cast and crew that were filming nearby. 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.
Head to Park City, go skiing and stay at Sundance Mountain Resort – Robert Redford bought the land now known as Sundance in 1969 and envisioned the careful growth of a community committed to the balance of art and nature. Since that time numerous writers, directors, actors and artists have been inspired by the beauty of this canyon. 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.
Take a Navajo-guided tour into the heart of Monument Valley – Goulding’s Lodge offers guided jeep tours of Monument Valley led by local Navajo guides who grew up in and around the area. Take a tour at sunrise, sunset, during a full moon or opt for a full day tour. 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.
Bon Voyage (0800 316 0194 www.bon-voyage.co.uk) is offering a 10 night Utah road trip from £1,695 per person including return flights from London to Las Vegas, car hire and accommodation (2 nights in Goulding’s Lodge Monument Valley, 3 nights in Sorrell River Ranch, Moab, 1 night Austin’s Chuck Wagon Motel, Torrey, 1 nights Bulberry Inn, Tropic, 1 night Circleville in Butch Cassidy’s Hideout Motel, 2 nights Cable Mtn Lodge, Springdale, Zion National Park). The price is based on room-only accommodation for travel in March 2019.
For more information on Utah see www.visitutah.com/uk
For more information on the Sundance Film Festival programme see www.sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival
For more media information and images, please contact Sam Kirton at the Utah Office of Tourism UK Press Office on:
0778 616 6556 / firstname.lastname@example.org