Centred on the popular ski town of Park City, Sundance (21-31 January) is the largest independent film festival in the US. And the mountains of Utah are an apt setting, with the state forming the backdrop to more than 900 movies.
Over the years, Utah has appeared in an incredible roll-call of memorable films, from Stagecoach (featuring a young John Wayne in his breakout role) to 127 Hours, based on the true story of climber Aron Ralston and his infamous escape from Utah’s Blue John Canyon.
Fittingly for a state which also features prominently in Thelma and Louise, many of these destinations lend themselves to a movie-inspired road trip.
A lot of the camera action has taken place near the quaint town of Kanab in southern Utah, nicknamed ‘Little Hollywood’. The setting for scores of classic Westerns, including Clint Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales, visitors can explore its history for themselves at the Little Hollywood Movie Museum.
But it’s not just Little Hollywood that’s given Utah its big reputation in cinema circles. From stunning Monument Valley (How the West Was Won) to Lake Powell (where both the original Planet of the Apes and the 2001 reboot where filmed), the entire state is heavy with cinematic history.
Those lengthy credits, of course, also include the film that made ‘Sundance’ a household name in the first place: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was shot in locations across Utah, including the pretty town of St. George, the iconic red rocks of Snow Canyon and the majesty of sprawling Zion National Park. The film’s young star, Robert Redford, went on to shoot close to 100 movies in Utah – the state he now calls home.
Becky Johnson, Global Specialist at Utah Office of Tourism comments: “Most people will be familiar with Utah even if they haven’t visited in person. From Forrest Gump to Thelma and Louise, the Lone Ranger to Indiana Jones, some of our most stunning national parks have formed the backdrop to some truly great movies.”
British holidaymakers keen to follow in the footsteps of their favourite Hollywood legends can enjoy one of two movie-inspired trips to Utah this year.
Travel ‘low key’: AmeriCan and Worldwide Travel (01892 779 900 / www.awwt.co.uk) has an eight night holiday to Utah from £1,575 per person. Valid for travel on either 6 June or 6 September 2016, the price is based on two adults sharing a room with direct return Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick to Las Vegas, compact car hire for the full duration of the trip and room only accommodation to include two nights near Zion National Park at the Cliffrose Lodge in a canyon view room, two nights at the Shooting Star RV Resort in Escalante in a vintage-style airstream trailer, two nights in Moab at Moab Under Canvas in a safari tent and two nights at Goulding’s Lodge in the Monument Valley area in a lodge room.
Jet set like an A-Lister: Audley Travel (01993 838 755 / www.audleytravel.com) has a 10 night holiday to Utah from £4,375 per person. Valid for travel in May 2016, the price is based on two adults sharing a room with direct return flights from London Heathrow to Salt Lake City with Delta, all-inclusive intermediate grade car hire for the full duration of the trip and room only accommodation to include one night in Salt Lake City at the Grand America Hotel, two nights in Park City at The St. Regis Deer Valley, three nights in Moab at the Sorrel River Ranch Resort, one night at Amangiri and three nights at Cable Mountain Lodge in Springdale.
For more on Utah’s cinematic heritage or to plan a visit to the state, go to www.visitutah.com.