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Visit The Real Westworld in America’s ‘Natural Hollywood’

by | Dec 20, 2016 | Press Releases

The Golden Globes, Sir Anthony Hopkins and the silver screen meet in the red rocks of Utah

You might not have visited Utah yet, but if you’re a fan of HBO’s new series Westworld (aired on Sky Atlantic in the UK), you’ll certainly recognise it. Much of the hit sci-fi series – which has a stellar cast including British actors Sir Anthony Hopkins and Thandie Newton – was shot in Utah’s breathtaking backcountry around Castle Valley. And while the actors, including recent Golden Globe nominees Evan Rachel Wood and Newton herself, have justifiably taken the plaudits, Utah – particularly its Mighty Five® national parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion) – has enjoyed plenty of screen time too.

It’s just the latest starring role for the Beehive State, which has been Hollywood’s go-to outdoor filming location for more than 75 years and is also home to Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival (19-29 January 2017). Since the early 1930s, hundreds of blockbusters have been shot in Utah’s rugged wilds, from early hits like Stagecoach to classics like How the West Was Won, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Planet of the Apes. In recent years, that impressive roll call has been bolstered by a conveyor belt of hits, from Independence Day and 127 Hours to JJ Abrams big budget Star Trek reboot.

In total, Utah’s iconic, striking landscape, has now starred in nearly 1,000 films. Here are 10 of the best…

  1. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)

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

“Who are those guys?” is the common refrain in this timeless classic. In this case, it’s Paul Newman and Robert Redford. 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 to the sprawling majesty of Zion National Park.

  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 finale at Dead Horse Point State Park.

  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 against the Nazis to secure the Holy Grail.

  1. 127 HOURS (2010)

Utah locations: Moab and Salt Lake City

James Franco plays Aron Ralston – the real-life hiker who got hopelessly trapped in one of Utah’s countless slot canyons, and was forced to amputate his own arm in order to escape.

  1. FORREST GUMP (1994)

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 back drop is impossible to miss.

  1. HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1962)

Utah locations: Monument Valley, Cedar Mountain and Duck Creek Village

Set between 1839 and 1889, this epic Western follows four generations of the same family as they move west to a new life. Its cast is still one of the most stellar ever assembled, including Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, Debbie Reynolds, George Peppard, Gregory Peck and John Wayne.

  1. STAGECOACH (1939)

Utah location: Monument Valley

The tense tale of a stagecoach hunted by Apache Chief Geronimo featured John Wayne in his first starring role – and earned director John Ford an Oscar.

  1. PLANET OF THE APES (1962)

Utah locations: Lake Powell and Glen Canyon

The iconic scene of Charlton Heston emerging from his crashed spaceship was filmed on the banks of Lake Powell, while further action was shot in colossal Glen Canyon, part of the same Colorado River-carved system as the Grand Canyon. In a nice piece of synchronicity, the 2001 reboot was shot here too.

  1. DUMB AND DUMBER (1994)

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

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 in the Provo Marriott and accidentally shot an owl in Park City – the ski resort town where the Sundance Film Festival is hosted annually.

  1. STAR TREK (2009)

Utah location: San Rafael Swell

JJ Abrams’ hugely successful reboot of the classic science fiction franchise used the San Rafael Swell (where the real Butch Cassidy had his hideout) to double as an alien world.

Becky Johnson, Senior Global Manager for the Utah Office of Tourism, Film & Global Branding, comments: “Utah’s world famous national parks, as well as our 43 beautiful state parks, have been popular Hollywood filming sites for decades. Now big budget TV is following suit with the arrival of Westworld. Of course you don’t have to be an A-list actor to get out there and enjoy the incredible scenery: there’s more than enough scene-stealing beauty here for everyone.”

Be Your Own Movie Star in Utah

Trailfinders (0207 368 1200, www.trailfinders.com) has a 13-night Utah fly-drive from £1,599 per person. The price includes flights into Salt Lake City (returning from Las Vegas), car hire for the duration and accommodation in locations including Salt Lake City, Park City, Moab, Arches National Park, Capitol Reef National Park and Zion National Park. Based on two adults sharing accommodation. Valid for May 2017 departures. Book by 31 December 2016.  Later departure dates or similar packages available on request.

For more information on Utah, visit www.visitutah.com/uk