The December #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover Ends with the Top 15 Film Locations on National Conservation Lands.
1. Pacific Crest Trail, CA-OR. Wild (2014) chronicles Cheryl Strayed’s (Reese Witherspoon) 1,000 mile journey on the trail that challenges, strengthens and ultimately heals her. The 2,650 mile trail includes segments on BLM lands in California and Oregon.
2. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, OR. In The Ring (2002), the lighthouse takes on an eerie glow for scenes from this supernatural horror flick starring Naomi Watts.
3. Paria Canyon Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, AZ. The deep canyons, tall cliffs and pinon covered uplands were backdrops for scenes from Billy the Kid (1941) and later the Outlaw Josie Wales with Clint Eastwood (1976).
4. Unaweep Canyon Wilderness Study Area, CO. Follow Thelma and Louise – the famous roadtrip duo– along a scenic byway backed by several Wilderness Study Areas (Sewemup Mesa and Palisade) with towering cliffs.
5. Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument, NM. Terminator Salvation (2009), Natural Born Killers (1994) and Wild Hogs (2007) are among the films that used the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge to film dramatic scenes above the canyon and churning river almost 600 feet below.
6. Fort Ord National Monument, CA. The Bugle Sounds (1942) stars Wallace Beery as a cavalry sergeant reluctant to replacing horses with modern equipment.
7. The San Juan Islands National Monument, WA. The film location for Free Willy II (1992) included the islands and surrounding rocks and islets of this national monument.
8. Rogue Wild and Scenic River, OR. Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon floated the river during the River Wild (1994), preceded by John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn who were filmed on the river in the 1975 film Rooster Cogburn.
9. Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, UT. The Pariah townsite in the southern part of the monument included a movie set which was built in the early 1960s for Sergeants Three, a Western featuring Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. It also provided settings for the television series Death Valley Days and Gunsmoke. The last movie filmed there was The Outlaw Josie Wales in 1976.
10. California Coastal National Monument Point Arena, CA. This spectacular coastal landscape capped by California’s tallest lighthouse provided a dramatic setting for the ending scenes of Forever Young starring Mel Gibson (1992) and Need for Speed (2014).
11. Valley of the Gods and Road Canyon Wilderness Study Area, UT. This iconic red-rock landscape was the backdrop for Forrest Gump (1994) when Forrest, played by Tom Hanks, ended his cross-country run.
12. Red Rock National Conservation Area, NV. Red Rocks featured Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger in Bells of San Angelo (1947) and was a location for The Stalking Moon with Gregory Peck in 1968.
13. Organ Mountains National Monument, NM. In Due Date (2009) with Robert Downey, Jr., the Organ Mountains were used extensively as a backdrop for the movie, once being cited in the film as mountains in Dallas, Texas, which is actually quite flat!
14. Saint Anthony’s Dunes Wilderness Study Area, ID. Although Napoleon Dynamite (2004) was not actually filmed here, St. Anthony’s gets a prominent mention when Napoleon’s grandma breaks her coccyx riding a bike in the dunes and leaves him in the care of his uncle. A proclamation by the Idaho State Legislature commending the movie’s portrayal of the state calls out Saint Anthony’s as a “long honored Idaho vacation destination”
15. Blackfoot River, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, MT. Flowing just east of Missoula Montana, the Blackfoot was made famous by Norman Macleans novel “A River Runs Through It” and a movie of the same name starring Brad Pitt (1992). Filming was conducted on several other river segments, as fishing on the Blackfoot had declined since the Macleans fished there. However, the movie sparked a restoration effort and the Blackfoot is once again a popular flyfishing destination.
Thanks for following the #conservationlands15 posts all year. Check back on Dec. 20th for the 12 Days of National Conservation Lands, an end-of-year recap of our monthly Top 15 posts!