The landscapes in southern Utah look like something right out of a movie, and that’s because there are a lot of movies filmed in Southern Utah! Their red rock canyons and unique rock formations have been shown in a lot of Hollywood movies from western classics to sci-fi hits and everything in between. If you’ve ever visited this area you know exactly why it’s the perfect backdrop for a wild west shootout or an extraterrestrial landing! In this article we’ll be taking you through 6 of the most famous movies that were filmed in this expansive desert.
High School Musical 2
This is one of the more recent films to be shot down here. Made as a sequel to the first film shot in Salt Lake City, Utah, it takes place just outside Snow Canyon. This movie was created to show the summer vacation of the teen stars from the original movie, and it was a massive success. It quickly became one of the highest rated Disney Channel Movies ever made and its soundtrack was a huge hit! If you haven’t seen the movie yet you should definitely check it out, and if you’re looking for a vacation like theirs, Southern Utah is the perfect place for you!
Planet of the Apes
The 1968 and 2001 sci-fi classics both had scenes filmed in the southern Utah desert. Lake Powell, located on the Arizona Utah border, was the crash landing site of the spaceship near the beginning of the movie. After their descent, two astronauts find themselves on this post-apocalyptic planet full of intelligent apes. Their adventures take them through the desert where you can spot the beautiful Utah landscapes in the background of the films.
The Lone Ranger
This is one of the best remembered movies filmed in Southern Utah, a 1950’s classic follows the titular Lone Ranger and his companion, a native american named Tonto on an adventure to stop a wealthy rancher who is attempting to start a war with the native americans to take control of a mountain rich with silver. The stunning backdrops in the movie showcase the beauty of Utah as they ride through the desert to stop the impending war. Much of the filming was done in Kanab, a town in southern Utah that has been home to a lot of movies since the 1920’s.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
This action packed movie takes place all throughout southern Utah. As the two outlaws evade the authorities they begin their trek through the west, featuring scenes from Snow Canyon, Springdale, and Zion National Park. You can follow the trail of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid through southern Utah and see a lot of familiar landscapes as you journey through the vast Utah desert.
You may recognize Lake Powell in this 90’s hit. This is the spot where Johnny Utah skydives with his comrades over the beautiful redrock scene below. Skydiving is actually a very popular tourist activity in southern Utah because it provides visitors the opportunity to feel the same excitement you can see in the film. This Lake is also the location for Maverick, Gravity, and a number of other movies filmed in Southern Utah as well as some TV shows. If you want to check a lot of movies off your list, this lake is a must-see.
The third movie in the series, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade opens in Arches National Park in southern Utah. Indy as a young boy scout is horseback riding through the park when he finds a group of treasure hunters that had just uncovered a crucifix. He steals the artifact to give it to a museum, and the ensuing chase takes young Indy through the Utah desert on horseback, car, and then a circus train! This film showcases many of the incredible natural monuments found in this area such as Park Avenue, Courthouse Towers, Balanced Rock, and Double Arch.
This list just barely scratches the surface of the impact this beautiful area has had on our culture. With some of the most unique landscapes on the planet the possibilities here are endless. If you’re looking for an exciting idea for your next family vacation, come check out southern Utah and explore some of the most famous sites from your favorite movies. While you’re here, stay in Coral Springs Resort to experience the best southern Utah has to offer.