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The United States National Parks have been inspiring writers, photographers, and artists since they were first seen by mankind. The filmmakers of Hollywood are no different. They look at these awe-inspiring landscape and recognize the beauty and how it will add an extra dimension to their films. There have been numerous movies filmed in the National Parks. Here are but a few where a National Park had a starting role:

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Cover image: NPS Photo

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Movies Filmed in the National Parks

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wyoming

Steven Spielberg’s iconic science fiction film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” prominently features America’s first National Monument. Devil’s Tower National Monument provides the backdrop as the alien mothership arrives on earth.

Image from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Star Wars Films

Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada

Death Valley has started in many films. There is a multi-page list of films, but only one film series has a dedicated tour and page on NPS’s website. Star Wars is that film or films. The park features in both Episode IV – A New Hope and Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi as part of the planet Tatooine.

Image from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Redwoods National and State Parks, California

Who doesn’t love the cute Ewok of the Planet Endor? Those cute furry Ewok live in a thick forest planet. That forest isn’t fiction. Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi film the pivotal battle in Redwoods National and State Parks.

Image from Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah

When director Franklin J. Schaffner was looking for an inhospitable landscape to be the backdrop for his upcoming science-fiction film “Planet of the Apes,” he settled on the lakeshore of the freshly dammed Lake Powell. This dammed section of the Colorado River made the perfect site for Charlton Heston to land on the Planet of the Apes.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York

The Statue of Liberty makes an appearance at the end Planet of the Apes. She is seen half-buried in the sand by Heston’s character letting him know that the apes had taken over from the humans

Image from Planet of the Apes (1968)

The Shining (1980)

Glacier National Park, Montana

Few roads are as iconic as the Going-to-the-Sun Road and this remote mountain road was a perfect road to set the stage for Stanley Kubrick’s psychological horror film. The road is seen in the beginning of the movie as Jack Nicholson’s character Jack Torrance and family drive to the hotel where he will be winter caretaker.

The movies hotel is actually the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, Oregon.

Glacier in The Shinning
Image from The Shining

Rocky IV (1985)

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

In Rocky IV, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) starts retraining back into the boxing ring to for a bought with a Soviet Union fighter. While set in the snowy mountains of Russia, Grand Teton National Park was used to stand in for the Soviet Union. Stallone’s character was shown training in man locations around the park.

Several of the US National Parks are graced the silver screen. Here is a list of movies filmed in the National Parks.
© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Zion National Park, Utah

When Robert Redford was cast as the Sundance Kid, the long time Utah resident couldn’t wait to show off the amazing scenery of his home state. He convinced the producers to film in the state and show off its amazing landscape including Zion National Park.

Several of the US National Parks are graced the silver screen. Here is a list of movies filmed in the National Parks.
Image from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Forrest Gump (1994)

National Mall, Washington, D.C.

Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump is a roller coaster of American history. The film follows Tom Hanks’ character Forrest through his life. One of the film’s most iconic moments was when he attends an anti-war rally at the National Mall and reunites with his girl Jenny in the Reflecting Pool.

Several of the US National Parks are graced the silver screen. Here is a list of movies filmed in the National Parks.
© Paramount Pictures

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

Redwood National and State Parks, California

Redwood National and State Parks stars in another film on this list. Jurassic Park’s sequel “The Lost World” uses the forest as a backdrop for Ingen’s second Costa Rica island of dinosaurs.

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Several of the US National Parks are graced the silver screen. Here is a list of movies filmed in the National Parks.
Image from The Lost Word: Jurassic Park
Jennifer is a long time national park blogger and the founder of National Park Obsessed. She is a dedicated National Park lover who is working on visiting all 62 US National Parks. She has currently been to 53 of the National Parks. She is dedicated to sharing her knowledge of the Parks with others and helping them learn to love the parks as much as she does.

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