A legend forged in the rugged landscapes of the American West, Disney's The Lone Ranger chose Utah as the destination for shooting several of the movie's most iconic and arresting scenes. When the movie opens in theaters on July 3rd, you'll be able to enjoy the movie, and Utah's landscapes, in their full cinematic splendor. However, if you want to follow in the footsteps of the film and visit these legendary places for yourself, create your own adventure using the destination highlights included below.
What's it like for a Hollywood star to go on-set in the wilds of Utah? Watch Disney's "The Lone
Ranger" actor Armie Hammer describe his experiences in Utah, both in and off the set.
In Moab, shots were clustered around three separate areas:
- Dead-Horse Point/Canyonlands National Park
- Castle Valley/Professor Valley
- Kane Springs/Amasa Back
All these destinations are less than an hour's drive from the town of Moab.
Dead Horse Point
Imagine waking from a bloody ambush unsure of whether you're dead or alive. As you stumble to your feet, you find yourself high atop a wooden tower perilously perched on a cliff edge thousands of feet above the river below. This is the situation John Reid finds himself in before he adopts the persona of the Lone Ranger. To capture this scene, one of the signature shots in the movie, the filmmaking crew traveled to Dead Horse Point State Park where visitors can peer from an overlook at the edge of the mesa 2,000 feet to the Colorado River below.
Go behind the scenes to see how the "Spirit Platform" scene was shot.
To the east, along the edge of the river is the Potash - Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway (Hwy 279) used for filming several train-related scenes. The train car was transported along the highway on a flatbed car during shooting. Additional staging and filming was done at the Gold Bar Group Campsite along the highway. If you drive the Potash - Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway, you'll enjoy a dramatic change of vantage from the Dead Horse Point overlook - the road hugs the river's edge and skirts dramatic cliff faces frequented by climbers. There are several good trailheads for hiking along the road, notably the Corona Arch, a one-and-a-half-mile hike up Bootlegger canyon to a beautiful free-standing arch.
Castle Valley / Professor Valley
An open basin with towering spires and canyon walls, Castle Valley, and adjacent Professor Valley, attract high-energy visitors, like Disney's The Lone Ranger filmmaking crew or the rock climbers who scale the sheer spires, as well as more casual crowd content to bask in the splendid scenery of the valley. The La Sal Mountain/Colorado River scenic drive guides you from the Colorado River through Castle Valley and up into the forested slopes of the La Sal mountains.
Kane Springs / Amasa Back
Just south of town, the Kane Springs road follows the southern shore of the Colorado River for several miles before the road turns to gravel and heads southward into a tributary canyon. Several scenes in Disney's The Lone Ranger were shot alongside this road including one memorable scene where The Lone Ranger and Tonto emerge from a river after narrowly escaping a fiery explosion. On your visit, you'll find the horses from the movie are replaced with mountain bikes and ATV's. Mountain bikers flock to the accessible beauty of the Amasa Back trail and ATV riders find the dirt roads of Kane Springs to be an enjoyable and scenic tour. Several hiking options exist here as well, including Moonflower Canyon as well as the longer, and more adventurous Hunter & Pritchett Canyon. Petroglyphs are found in several locations along the road as well, making Kane Springs and enjoyable destination for a wide-range of visitors.
Monument Valley Locations
As you drive into Monument Valley, you may feel as though you're driving through one of the classic Hollywood westerns. The feeling comes for good reason: hundreds of movies and commercials have been shot right here. And as you travel, you're following in the footsteps of legends like John Wayne and contemporaries like Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. Several key scenes from Disney's The Lone Ranger were shot here as the spires, towers and buttes make a compelling tableau for a Western adventure.
The best way to experience Monument Valley is to take a half-day or full-day Jeep tour. You can tour limited parts of the park independently, but a Jeep tour saves your vehicle from the abuses of the rough roads, provides access to a much larger section of the park and introduces you to the park's cultural heritage. The tour guides are key to unlocking the rich history, archeology and traditions of the Navajo people who continue to live in traditional hogans, herd sheep and weave rugs as they've done for millennia. If you're a photographer, consider booking a sunrise or sunset tour to travel the park during the "golden hour" to capture the park's monuments, needles and spires in their full glory. After dinner, step out on your patio to listen to the stillness of the night and bask in the brilliance of the night sky. Hundreds of miles from a major city, the stargazing in this region is simply breathtaking. For many, the vastness of the shimmering night sky, combined with the day's travels and cultural experiences, provides an awe-inspiring perspective on life that is both profound and long-lasting. Nearby Natural Bridges National Monument was the first International Dark Sky Park certified by the International Dark-Sky Association. The park has taken steps to reduce nighttime light pollution to ensure visitors today, and in the future, can enjoy the profound brilliance of the Milky Way arcing across a dark, desert sky.
Image courtesy National Park Service
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