Filming In Death Valley

Filming In Death Valley

Written by: , November 22nd, 2015

Death Valley National Park has been a popular location to film movies and TV shows over the years. Located about 5 hours from Hollywood, it’s easily accessible to the major studios and provides one of the most unique landscapes in the world. Many popular films have been shot here including the original episode of the Star Wars epic (now known as Episode IV – A New Hope) released in 1977 and The Return of the Jedi released in 1983.

The Inn at Death Valley and The Ranch at Death Valley have provided accommodations for the actors and film crews during the filming of many of these movies or television shows. Many actors have returned again and again to enjoy the luxurious AAA Four Diamond, Inn at Death Valley for some necessary rest and relaxation after the filming has completed.

Below is a list of movies and TV shows in date order that have been filmed in Death Valley.

Click on the map image to view the locations used by various films and television shows. By clicking on the map markers, a window will open to show the various movies filmed at that location.


Wanderer of the Wasteland, 1923-24.
Director: Irvin Willat. Paramount Pictures.
Note: Based on Zane Grey’s novel. Hollywood’s first all color film.

Greed, 1924.
Director: Eric von Stroheim. Starring: Jean Hersholt, Zazu Pitts and Gibson Gowland. [V]

The Air Mail, 1925.
Director: Irvin Willat. Paramount Pictures.
Note: Filmed at Rhyolite. Willat restored the “Bottle House” to use in this film, a modern Western.

The Brute, 1927.
Warner Brothers, Inc.

Unknown Cavalier, 1928.
Starring: Ken Maynard. Warner Brothers, Inc.

Death Valley, 1928.
Starring: Carroll Nye, Beda Rae, Sam Wells, Raymond Wells, Grace Lord and Rex the collie.

Real Man’s Law, 1928.
Starring: Oliver Hardy.

The Rainbow, 1928.
Starring: Dorothy Sebastian, Lawrence Gray, Harvey Clark, Sam Hardy and Kate Price.

Twenty Mule Team, 1940.
Director: Richard Thorpe. Starring: Wallace Beery & Leo Carrillo. Metro Goldwin Mayer
Note: Filmed in Golden Canyon. Story about an Arizona borax mine.

The Bride Came C.O.D., 1941.
Director: William Kieghley. Starring: James Cagney and Bette Davis.
Warner Brothers, Inc. [V]
Note: Shot at Mesquite Sand Dunes.

Escape in the Desert, 1945.
Director: Edward A. Blatt. Starting: Irene Manning and Alan Hale. Warner Brothers, Inc.
Note: Remake of Petrified Forest.

Death Valley, 1946.
Starting: Helen Gilbert, Robert Lowery, Nat Pendelton, Sterling Halloway and Paul Hirst
Note: Filmed in 20 Mule Team Canyon.

Yellow Sky, 1948.
Director: William Wellman. Starring: Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter and Richard Widmark.
20th Century Fox.
Note: Filmed near the Ranch. About the search for a lost mine in Arizona.

Three Godfathers, 1948.
Director: John Ford. Starring: John Wayne, Ward Bond, Harry Carey, Jr. and Pedro Armendarys. RKO Argosy Pictures. [V]
Note: Filmed near the Ranch.

The Walking Hills, 1948.
Director: John Sturges. Starring: Randolph Scott and Ella Raines. Columbia Pictures.
Note: Filmed near Stovepipe Wells.

The Gunfighter, 1950.
Director: Henry King. Starring: Gregory Peck, Helen Westcott and Millard Mitchell. [V]
Note: The opening titles were filmed in Death Valley.

Rocket Ship X M, 1950.
Director: Kurt Neuman. Starring: Hugh O’Brien, Lloyd Bridges, Ona Munsen, John Emory and Noah Beery, Jr. [V]
Note: Filmed at Mesquite Sand Dunes. Originally titled “Rocket Ship to the Moon.”

King Solomon’s Mines, 1950.
Director: Compton Bennett. Starring: Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger and Richard Carlson.
Metro Goldwin Mayer. [V]

Cattle Drive, 1950.
Director: Kurt Newman. Starring: Joel McCrea, Dean Stockwell and Chill Wills. Universal Pictures.

The Golden Horde, 1951.
Director: Sherinan Starting: Ann Blyth and David Farrar. Universal Pictures.

Escape from Fort Bravo, 1953.
Director: John Sturges. Starring: William Holden, Eleanor Parker and John Forsythe.
Metro Goldwin Mayer.

War Paint, 1953.
Director: Lesley Selander. Starring: Robert Stack, Joann Taylor, Charles McGraw and Peter Graves. United Artists.

Ropes End, 1953.
Starring: Robert Holden and Elenor Parker. Metro Goldwin Mayer.

The Law and Jack Wade, 1957.
Director: John Sturges. Starring: Robert Taylor, Richard Widmark and Patricia Owens.
Metro Goldwin Mayer.
Note: Filmed at Artist’s Drive, Badwater and Zabriskie Point.

Desert Hell, 1958.
Director: Charles Marquis Warren. Starring: Brian Keith and Barbara Hale.
Note: Filmed at Sand Dunes. French Foreign Legion battles warring Arabs.

Spartacus, 1960.
Director: Stanley Kubrick. Starring: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons and Tony Curtis. [V]
Note: Filmed at Ryan Borax Mine and Zabriskie Point.

One Eyed Jacks, 1961.
Director: Marlon Brando. Starring: Marlon Brando and Karl Malden. Paramount Pictures. [V]

The Greatest Story Ever Told, 1965.
Director: George Stevens. Starring: Max Von Sydow, Charleton Heston and Carroll Baker. [V]
Note: Test shots were filmed at Dante’s View, but it is unknown if scenes made final cut.

Robinson Crusoe on Mars, 1964.
Director: Byron Haskin. Starring: Paul Mantee, Vic Lundin and Adam West. Paramount Pictures.

The Lively Set, 1964.
Director: Jack Arnold. Starring: James Darren, Pamela Tiffin and Doug McClure.
Universal Pictures.
Note: Filmed at Emigrant, Furnace Creek.

Reward, 1965.
Director: Serge Bourquignon. Starring: Max von Sydow, Ivettex Mimieux, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. and Gilbert Roland. 20th Century Fox.
Note: Filmed at Indian Village, Salt Creek, Devil’s Golf Course and Zabriskie Point.

The Professionals, 1966.
Director: Richard Brooks. Starring: Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin and Jack Palance. Columbia Pictures. [V]
Note: Filmed at Sand Dunes, Stovepipe Wells and Desolation Canyon.

Zabriskie Point, 1970.
Director: Michelangelo Antoniomi. Starring: Mark Frechette, Daria Halprin and Harrison Ford.
Metro Goldwin Mayer. [V]

Vanishing Point, 1971.
Director: Richard Sarafian. Starring: Barry Newman, Cleavon Little and Dean Jagaer. [V]
Note: Filmed at Goldfield.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, 1973.
Director: Hall Bartlett. [V]

Star Wars, 1977.
Director: George Lucas. Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford.
20th Century Fox. [V]
Note: Re-released in 1997. Filmed between Stovepipe Wells and Death Valley Junction, Ubehebe Crater and Badwater.

Winter Kills, 1979.
Director: William Richert. Starring: John Huston, Elizabeth Taylor, Jeff Bridges and Anthony Perkins. [V]
Note: Re released in 1983. Filmed in and around the Furnace Creek Inn.

Death Valley, 1982.
Director: Dick Richards. Starring: Peter Billingsley, Paul LeMat and Catherine Kicks.
Universal Pictures. [V]

The Fourth Wiseman, 1983.
Starring: Martin Sheen and Alan Arkin.
Note: Filmed at Artist Drive, Twenty Mule Team Canyon and Sand Dunes. May have actually been a television show.

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, 1983.
Director: Richard Marquand. Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams.

The Visitor, 1984.
Tri-Productions Film Company.
Note: Filmed at Zabriskie Point, Golden Canyon, Badwater. Based on an old Ray Bradbury script about Mars.

The Oasis, 1984.
Starring: Dori Brinner, Richard Cox

The Hitcher, 1986.
Starring: Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh. [V]
Note: One gruesome scene filmed at Shoshone and Death Valley Junction.

Cherry 2000, 1988.
Director: Steve DeJarnatt. Starring: Melanie Griffith, Ben Johnson and Harry Carey, Jr. [V]
Note: Filmed in Goldfield.

Charles Manson Superstar, 1989.
Starring: Melanie Griffith, Harry Carey Jr.

Homer and Eddie, 1990.
Director: Andrei Konchalovsky. Starring: Whoopie Goldberg and James Belushi. [V]
Note: Filmed in Goldfield.

The Doors, 1991.
Director: Oliver Stone. Starring: Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Frank Whaley and Kevin Dillon.
Note: Scenes filmed at Sand Dunes.

Confessions of a Hitman, 1994.
Starring: James Remar, Michael Wright.

Highway 395, 1999.
Starring: Fred Dryer.

Gerry, 2002.
Director: Gus Van Sant. Starring: Matt Damon, Casey Affleck.

Tree of Life, 2011.
Director: Terrence Malick. Starring: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain.
Note: Scenes filmed at Badwater Basin.

Valley of Love, 2015.
Director: Guillaume Nicloux. Starring: Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert. [V] French film with English subtitles
Note: Scenes filmed at Furnace Creek Ranch, Inn at Furnace Creek, Badwater Basin, Zabriskie Point and other points of interest in Death Valley

Television Shows

Tarzan, November, 1951.
Producer: Sol Lesser.
Note: Filmed at the Sand Dunes.

Death Valley Days, June, 1952.
Flying A Studios Gene Autry Production.

Death Valley Days, February 1953.
Episode: “She Burns Green.” Flying A Studios Gene Autry Production.

Death Valley Days, November 1953.
Episode: “The Big Team Rolls,” “Jim Dayton’s Treasure,” “Yaller.” Flying A Studios Gene Autry Production.

Ambush at Stovepipe Wells, April, 1958.
Note: Park Superintendent appears in this briefly.

The Twilight Zone, June 1959.
Episode: “The Lonely” (aired: 01/16/60). Producer: Metro Goldwin Mayer.

Branded, January 1965.
Starring: Chuck Connors. Producer: Cecil Baker. Madison Production.

Death Valley Days, September, 1965.
Episode: “The Dry Water Sailors,” “Red Shawl.” Producer: Madison Production.

The Trek, October 1966.
Producer: Milas Henshaw. Bill Burrud Productions.
Note: Documentary about Manly and Rodgers narrated by Victor Dory

Death Valley Days, October, 1967.
Episode: “Green is the Color of Gold” (aired: 03/26/68), “Out of the Valley of Death” (aired: 04/09/68), “Dress for a Desert Girl” (aired: 04/16/68), “A Friend Indeed” (aired: 04/27/68).
Note: Filmed at the Ranch, Inn. Mustard Canyon, Gold Course, Badwater, etc.

Cosmos, January 2 7, 1979.
Episode: V – “Mars and the Mind of Man.”

In Search Of, August 8, 1979.
Note: Filmed at Marble and Emigrant Canyons.

CBS Afternoon Playhouse, 1980.
Episode: “Escape from Death Valley.”
Note: Filmed at Salt Springs, Artist Drive, Zabriskie Point, 20 Mule Team Canyon and Sand Dunes.

The Jackass Trail, 1980.
Producer: JDH Productions. Note: About Jean Dehave cross country trip.

The Hitchhiker, June, 1983.
Producer: Corzaon Productions (Canada).
Note: The series titles were filmed at the curve north of Harmony Borax and at Badwater. The series originally aired on HBO and now airs on USA.

Ride with Norman Reedus, 2016.
Producer: Left/Right Productions. Note: Featuring Norman Reedus who plays the role of Daryl Dixon in “The Walking Dead” series.