Pretty much every Utahn knows that many places in our state are famous for Westerns and Sci-Fi movies. But did you know that part of “National Lampoon’s Family Vacation” was filmed in Utah? How about “Better off Dead?” Some of these movies won’t surprise you — others will.
1) Monument Valley
Most famously, “Stagecoach” (1938), starring John Wayne was filmed here. The actor went on to film several other Westerns at Monument Valley. The opening scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) were filmed in Monument Valley. The Griswold’s car broke down here in “National Lampoon’s Family Vacation” (1983). “Back to the Future III” (1990) was also filmed here -- there’s nothing like seeing a Delorean and a line of Native Americans on horseback playing chicken, is there?
2) Lake Powell
When Charlton Heston first steps off his spaceship onto the “Planet of the Apes” (1968), he emerges onto the shores of Lake Powell. He came back for a cameo in the 2001 remake.
The ghost town of Grafton is where Robert Redford first fell in love with Utah. He starred in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in (1969), which was filmed in Grafton, Zions National Park and Snow Canyon. He returned to Grafton to film many more Westerns, including “The Outlaw Josey Wells” (1976) and “The Electric Horseman” (1979) and many more.
4) Lehi Roller Mills
When angst-ridden Ren McCormack has to burn off some of his rage in “Footloose” (1984), he does so in an amazing gymnastic/dance scene filmed at the Lehi Roller Mills. Other parts of the movie were filmed in American Fork, Orem, Provo and Payson.
5) Alta, Brighton, and Snowbird Ski Resorts
John Cusak suffers through his teenage angst in all three of these Utah ski resorts in the movie “Better Off Dead” (1985). Dan’s Market in Holladay is also featured in the movie.
6) Arches National Park
The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981) was filmed in Arches National Park, Dead Horse State Park and Monument Valley. The remake (2013) was also filmed in the park. Indiana Jones looks for the Holy Grail (and his long-lost father) in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) filmed in Arches National Park and Moab.
7) Dead Horse Point State Park
“Thelma and Louise” (1991) make their way across Utah, including Canyonlands National Park, Cisco, Thompson Springs, Mexican Hat, Moab and even West Valley City. The last scene in the film (probably the most famous scene in the movie) takes place at Dead Horse Point.
8) Vincent Drug, Midvale
When Smalls and Benny need new baseballs in the movie “The Sandlot,” they go to Vincent Drug in Midvale (sadly, it’s no longer in business). The boys’ houses are located in Sugarhouse, and the Little League games were filmed in Glendale and Rose Park. The pool scenes were filmed at Loren Farr Park in Ogden.
9) Mexican Hat
“Forrest Gump” (1994) traveled through Utah and captured this iconic view. It’s dubbed “Forrest Gump Point.” The view is from Mexican Hat, looking toward Monument Valley.
10) La Caille Restaurant, Sandy
Lloyd Christmas dreams of returning Mary’s suitcase to her during the movie “Dumb and Dumber” (1994) In his dream, he knocks on her door, which is really the front entrance to La Caille restaurant, where several scenes of the dream sequence in the movie were filmed. Other scenes took place at the Salt Lake International Airport, in Heber and in Ogden.
11) Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon
In “Savannah Smiles” (1982), Savannah is kidnapped in Liberty Park and ends up at Bridal Veil Falls.
12) Bonneville Salt Flats
Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum visited the Bonneville Salt Flats to film “Independence Day” (1996). Other scenes include the Utah towns of Tooele, Wendover, Lakepoint and Skull Valley. Nicholas Cage filmed “Con Air”(1997) at the Salt Flats the following year.
13) Goblin Valley State Park
With its weird formations, its a wonder that not every sci-fi movie is filmed at Goblin Valley. “Galaxy Quest” was filmed there in 1999.
14) Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City
Our State Capitol was used as a stand-in for the U.S. Capitol in “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde” (2003).
“Hulk” (2003) was filmed in Wendover and Arches National Park.
16) East High School, Salt Lake City
Every Utah tween knows that “High School Musical” (2006) was filmed at East High School in Salt Lake City.
17) San Rafael Swell
“Star Trek” (2009) was filmed at the San Rafael Swell.
This doesn’t even attempt to be a comprehensive list of ALL the movies filmed in Utah. Which of your favorites did I leave out?