Guests often ask us at the Lodge at Red River Ranch to point out specific places in Southern Utah where movie productions have been filmed. Since Southern Utah has been the backdrop for over 100 major motion pictures, we thought we’d give you a list of some famous film location that you might recognize. This blog will focus on the scenes from the recent Walt Disney Pictures release John Carter.
John Carter is a film that follows the story of a civil war soldier, named, well, John Carter, who is mysteriously “telegraphed” to Mars. John Carter is an action-packed, computer animated, thrill ride about the conflicts that occurs on this distant planet. Director Andrew Stanton chose to shoot the principle photography for the scenes on Mars right here in Southern Utah. When you watch the film, keep an eye out for these locations.
Opening Mars Sequence – the scene when John Carter first discovers he is on Mars (and tries to figure out the change in gravity) was shot in our very own backyard – Wayne County. Filmed near the town of Hanksville, in the West Desert, this scene invites the audience to view the bleak, stark beauty of the Southern Utah desert. Hanksville is located an hour east of Capitol Reef National Park. Most people pass through it on their way to Lake Powell. One of the most popular activities in the Hanksville area is touring the desert on off-highway vehicles.
River Scene – The entire John Carter river sequence was shot in Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Lake Powell is a massive reservoir over 180 miles long. It is full of winding, twisting side canyons that are perfect for personal watercraft. We highly recommend that you visit Lake Powell when you get a chance. The most obvious attractions are, of course, the various water sports, and cliff jumping. But there are also some great hiking opportunities in the area, such as Rainbow Arch – the largest freestanding arch in the world.
Various Traveling Scenes and Background Compilations – Many of the shots that are used as backdrops for the traveling sequences (on the way to the River Isiss, etc.) came from Kane County. This county is located near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, near Zion National Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. All of these places offer great recreational prospects, and showcase different aspects of Utah’s beauty.
Disney filmed extensively near Mount Carmel Junction. Mount Carmel is about 17 miles east of Zion National Park. (You might recognize the name from the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel in the national park.) The John Carter production team actually got permission from the national park to build a road out to a very remote location, previously only accessible on foot. An extensive amount of the principle photography was shot in the Zion/Mount Carmel area.
Another filming location for John Carter was in Millard County, near the city of Delta. When visiting Delta, be sure to check out the nearby trilobite dig. It is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
The last location that we’ll mention was near the gateway town of Moab. Moab, Utah provides access to two national parks, Arches National Park to the North, and Canyonlands National Park to the South. In recent decades, the name Moab has become almost synonymous with the idea of desert fun. The chief attractions are off-highway vehicle areas (where the sport of Jeeping was invented,) hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and backcountry exploration
If you liked what you saw in the film, you’ll like it better in real-life. We at the Lodge at Red River Ranch invite you to come vacation on Mars on Earth.