The Movie Waffler 5 Iconic Filming Locations in American Westerns | The Movie Waffler

5 Iconic Filming Locations in American Westerns

When it comes to the beginning of the Silver Screen, American Westerns dominated the theaters. Huge stars like John Wayne showed off the American West as an adventure waiting to happen. If you’re a fan of Westerns, there is a good chance you’ve seen these five iconic filming locations.

Grafton Ghost Town

Nothing suits an American Western more than a good, old ghost town. Luckily for filmmakers, they don’t even need to create sets for them because they actually exist in the American West. One of the popular ghost towns is called Grafton, which is located in Utah. The town, located just south of Zion National Park is estimated to be the most photographed ghost town in the West.
First settled in 1859, Brigham Young commissioned this town as part of a cotton-growing project in Utah. The original settlement was called Wheeler, but was quickly destroyed by weeks-long flooding of the Virgin River. The town was then rebuilt and named New Grafton. Continued flooding and difficult farming conditions made New Grafton a not-so-ideal place to live. Then in 1866 when the Black Hawk War erupted, the town was evacuated to Rockville in fear of Indian attacks. It was never resettled.
This iconic ghost town was preserved in 1997 by the Grafton Heritage Partnership whose sole goal was to protect, preserve, and restore Grafton. The ghost town lives on through prominent films such as In Old Arizona, and the widely popular Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Monument Valley

Another iconic Western movie location is Monument Valley. This section of the Colorado Plateau is categorized by its towering buttes that can reach 1,000 feet above the valley floor. It is located on the Arizona and Utah state line, near the Four Corners. Monument Valley is probably one of the most recognizable regions because of its wide usage in American Westerns. In fact it is probably what most people think of when they imagine what the West looks like.
Stagecoach starring John Wayne, is probably one of the most notable films shot in Monument Valley. However, it is far from the only one shot there. Back to the Future: Part III, Forrest Gump, National Lampoon’s Vacation, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and more recent films such as The Lone Ranger, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and Transformers: Age of Extinction, all feature scenes from Monument Valley.
Today, Monument Valley is widely popular for its tourism. Visitors from around the U.S. come to tour the valley either by driving through via public access or through a private tour that allows them to further navigate the beauty of the valley

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is another location that was used for American Westerns and is still continued to be used today for films. This 242,000 plus acre national park is located in southwestern South Dakota. The park is identified by its eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires along with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. Today visitors can stay overnight in one of the two campgrounds.
Regarding American Westerns, you may recognize the Badlands from films such as How the West Was Won and Dances with Wolves. Additionally, scenes from Armageddon and Starship Troopers were also filmed in the Badlands.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Established in 1931, this monument is located in northeastern Arizona and is within the confines of Navajo Nation territory. The Navajo Nation preserves its rich history formed by the indigenous Ancient Pueblos that used to live there. The monument is comprised of three major canyons including de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument. It is one of the most visited monuments in the United States. One of the more popular movies filmed here, The Sea of Grass, starred Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. More recently, the remake of The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp was filmed in Canyon de Chelly.

Grand Teton

Finally, we head to the Grand Teton, a range of mountains within the Rocky Mountains. Located in Wyoming, the Grand Tetons are a popular place for mountaineering. The classic The Mountain Men starring Charlton Heston and Brian Keith was filmed in Grand Teton National Park. Other movies filmed in the location include Shane, Django Unchained, and Any Which Way You Can.