Cinema buffs will love Utah. Some of cinema’s most iconic moments were shot here, from Thelma and Louise’s car jump to the crash landing in Planet of the Apes. With its diverse and dramatic landscapes, from stark desert to snowy mountains, it’s no wonder filmmakers have flocked here for decades. But it’s more than just brilliant backdrops. The state also hosts the Sundance Film Festival, the first-ever dedicated space for independent filmmakers to meet, develop their projects, and collaborate with mentors. So, if you’re looking for the ultimate cinema-themed road trip, you’re in safe hands in Utah. Here are some of the most famous movies filmed in Utah.
Famous movies filmed in Utah
1. Thelma and Louise (1991)
Locations: Fossil Point, Moab, La Sal Mountains, Arches National Park
The 1991 cult classic Thelma & Louise was a massive blockbuster hit, but it really struck a chord with women. The story follows the best pal duo as they flee the law and find freedom for the first time in their lives. While the story takes place between Arkansas and Arizona, most of the movie was actually filmed in Utah. In fact, the movie’s most famous scene – the epic car chase at the end – was shot at Fossil Point. Incredibly, since the producers budget wouldn’t stretch to special effects, they really did send a real car flying off the cliff.
Other filming locations include eerie ghost towns like Cisco and Sego, the La Sal Mountains and Arches National Park.
2. High School Musical (2006)
Locations: East High School, Murray High School, St. George Area, The Entranda Inn and Canyons Complex, Tuacahn Amphitheatre
The Disney blockbuster hit tells the story of basketball player Troy Bolton and book-smark Gabriella as they fall in love and master some serious synchronized choreography. The fictional East High School is in Albuquerque, New Mexico but filming actually took place at East High School and Murray High School in Utah. That’s where you’ll find the stage where Tory and Gabrielle auditioned and where they filmed hit numbers like ‘We’re All in This Together” and “Get Your Head in the Game” and
The Inn at Entrada is another must-visit site for High School Music fans – it’s where Troy and Gabriella dance in the second movie. Then you could catch a softball game at the site where the Wildcats won the basketball game – Canyons Complex.
3. Up (2009)
It may be an animated house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit. In 2011, Bangerter Homes recreated Carl and Ellie’s house, with Pixar’s blessing, in the Utah Mountains. Every tiny detail of the replica is accurate, from the white picket fence to the couple’s armchairs in the living room.
Unlike the fictional house, this one isn’t likely to float away anytime soon either.
4. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
Locations: Salt Lake City Airport, Downtown Salt Lake City, Sandy, Devereaux Mansion, Herber City.
The screwball comedy of two good-hearted but incredibly stupid friends starring Jim Carrey captured everyone’s hearts when it came out nearly three decades ago. Most of the movie was filmed in Salt Lake City, Sandy, Heber and Park City, albeit disguised as other places.
The briefcase scene and goodbye with Mary Swanson are at Salt Lake City Airport, Harry and Lloyd’s apartment is actually in downtown Salt Lake City and Mary’s parent’s pad is really in Deer Valley. You can get up close to the horsedrawn carriage Harry and Lloyd use to leave Aspen Snow Owl Benefit. It’s parked outside the Devereaux Mansion. Plus, you can actually visit Mary’s mansion. It’s actually a cleverly disguised restaurant called La Caille, in Sandy.
5. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Locations: Grafton, Zion National Park
It’s one of Robert Redford’s most famous films, telling the story of two laid-back leaders of a criminal gang forced to flee to Bolivia when a bank robbery goes wrong. Most of the filming took place in Zion National Park. The tiny town in which Butch and Sundance hole up with Etta is actually a town called Grafton, a deserted Mormon community on the Virgin River. Butch’s fight with Harvey Logan takes place in Cave Valley, in the Kolab Region of the park. Around an hour away from Zion National Park, Snow Canyon State Park formed the backdrop for the famous chase scene too.
Robert Redford famously bought Timp Haven, a ski resort that he turned into the Sundance Mountain Resort. That then turned into the Sundance Film Festival.
6. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Locations: Arches National Park
The iconic action-adventure film, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford, is the third in the Indiana Jones franchise. It follows the story of the famous archaeologist as he hunts down his father, who disappeared while looking for the Holy Grail before the Nazis get there first.
The spectacular sandstone landscape in the opening scenes is Arches National Park. Located in Southern Utah, the park covers an incredible 120-square miles and experiences blistering hot summers and freezing winters. Familiar locations inside the park include The Windows Road, where Indian reduces the ‘Cross of Coronoado’ and ‘The Three Gossips’.
7. Independence Day (1996)
Location: Bonneville Salt Flats
This blockbuster doesn’t need much of an introduction but we’ll do our best – an alien race destroys the world and only Will Smith can save it. Filming took place all over the world, but one of the movie’s most iconic scenes is in Utah. Cranky Captain Hiller aka Will Smith famously pulls an unconscious alien across the barren landscape.
Plenty of other movies have used the stark landscape at the most poignant moments in their movies. Captain Jack Sparrow lands here with the Black Pearl in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”. In “The World’s Fastest Indian,” Anthony Hopkins spends a long time here too.