There is a long list of Hollywood greats who have acted on the nation’s outdoor stage. From far-away galaxies to jurassic jungles to the rustic Wild West, our epic American landscapes have played just about every role imaginable.
In addition to all they give us environmentally and leisurely, our National Parks and forests continue to bring authenticity to some of our favorite films. In honor of National Parks Week, here's a look at some of the best National Parks and forest cameos in modern cinema.
1. Butch, the Kid, and Zion National Park.
Featured in: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
A young Paul Newman and Robert Redford star in a classic western about two bank- and train-robbing bandits. Much of the stunning natural scenery featured comes courtesy of Utah’s 229-square-mile Zion National Park.
2. A long time ago in a desert far, far away, C-3PO & R2-D2 came to Death Valley National Park.
Featured in: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
According to Death Valley National Park, while many of the shots for A New Hope were taken abroad, the 1977 Star Wars film crew and George Lucas came to Death Valley to film some short transition scenes. Filler shots were taken at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Desolation Canyon, Golden Canyon, Dante’s View, and Artist’s Palette.
The scene where the Jawas come to take R2-D2 to the sandcrawler was filmed at Artist’s Palette and needed actors. A number of small children from the Death Valley Elementary School were chosen for this role. These children were Park Rangers’ kids who lived in Death Valley National Park. They wore heavy costumes made out of burlap, and one got to wear a mask with glowing eyes. Tim Donaldson who lived with his family in the park during the filming shared a photograph of himself dressed as a Jawa:
3. Phone home, or visit the Ewoks at Redwood National Park.
Featured in: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
4. Go on an Indiana Jones Adventure at Arches National Park.
Featured in: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
May 1989: Indiana Jones 3 released. Audiences ooh & ahh at Double Arch--& maybe at Harrison Ford, 2. (kt, photo JWF) http://t.co/OddEwx7jYz— Arches National Park (@ArchesNPS) May 28, 2013
5. Run with Forrest Gump at Glacier National Park.
Featured in: Forrest Gump and The Shining
This road is seen briefly in the film Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump jogged through Montana on his trek across the United States and back. As Forrest reminisces with Jenny, he remembers running across the U.S. and remarks, "Like that mountain lake. It was so clear, Jenny. It looks like there were two skies, one on top of the other." The shots in the background are Going-to-the-Sun Road and Saint Mary Lake.
Going-to-the-Sun Road is the only road that crosses Glacier National Park and is noted as one of the first National Park Service projects specifically intended to accommodate the automobile-borne tourist. The road, a National Historic Landmark and a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, spans 50 miles across the width of the park.
This road is also shown in the opening credits of the 1980 film The Shining, as Jack Torrance's Volkswagen glides past Saint Mary Lake.
6. Live long and prosper at Yosemite National Park.
Featured in: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
7. Monkey around at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Featured in: Planet of the Apes, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Gravity, and the TV series, Dr. Who
8. Train like Stallone at Grand Teton National Park.
Featured in: Rocky IV
The Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming stands in for the icy "Russian" wilderness where Rocky trains.
9. Dance with wolves at Badlands National Park.
Featured in: Dances with Wolves
The wagon ride from ‘Fort Hayes’ to ‘Fort Sedgewick’ was filmed in the Sage Creek Wilderness Area of Badlands National Park.
10. Stand alongside the Lone Ranger at Canyon de Chelly National Park.
In the modern take on the Lone Ranger, Johnny Depp (Tonto) and Armie Hammer (the masked hero) journey throughout the rugged western lands of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. While much of the movie was filmed in and around the spectacular sites of Canyonlands National Park, the film crew also headed to Arizona's Canyon de Chelly National Monument for a few scenes.
May the odds be ever in your favor at Dupont State Recreational Forest.
Featured in: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Brevard’s Dupont State Forest became ideal for photo-ops as it's one of the most recognizable locations in the first Hunger Games film. The Hunger Games are set in the dystopian future, which requires two young representatives from each of the 12 districts to participate in a fight to the death.
Many scenes that take place inside the game’s arena were filmed against the woodlands and its impressive waterfalls. Today, Triple Falls has become one of the most visited areas inside Dupont State Recreational Forest for Katness cosplayers and Hunger Games nature tours.
Fall in love at Wormsloe Historic Site.
Featured in: The Last Song
2010's tearjerker "The Last Song," starring Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, was filmed primarily on Tybee Island and in nearby Savannah, Georgia. When Ronnie (Miley Cyrus) goes to the home of Will (Liam Hemsworth) and his family for the first time, they cruise down Oak Drive at Wormsloe Historic Site, which is regulated by Georgia's Park Service.
Want to know if a park near you had any starring roles? Check out a larger list of movies filmed at National Parks here.