Star Studded Journey The Canyons of Utah
You might be surprised to learn that more than 900 big screen and TV films have been shot in Utah; Hollywood first discovered its stunning scenery in the 1920’s when films like Stagecoach were filmed.
The Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission, started in 1949, is the longest ongoing film commission in the world; few people know that Thelma and Louise took their final leap at Dead Horse Point in Canyonlands National Park – not the Grand Canyon. Filming continues today – recent productions that wrapped in Utah include Gravity, and Transformers: Age of Extinction, the Lone Ranger and the Need for Speed.
This fly-drive holiday will allow you to discover some of the stars' hideouts as well as some of the most spectacular scenery and colours to be found anywhere in the world.
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Arrive in Salt Lake City, Utah. Two nights here to find your feet and explore the Mormon Capital of the World. Salt Lake is a fascinating city of contrasts, the beautiful white buildings of the Temple area, the natural majesty of the surrounding lakes and mountains and, of course, where films such as High School Musical, Independence Day and Pirates of the Caribbean were shot.
2 nights Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City to Sundance
45 minutes drive from Salt Lake City
Owned by one of the world’s most acclaimed actors, Robert Redford, and the filming site of Jeremiah Johnson, this chic eco resort is synonymous with film, as the birthplace of the internationally renowned Sundance Film Festival. If you can tear yourself away from the hotel you can take the lift to the top of Ray's Summit, enjoy hiking or mountain biking; alternatively, try your luck on the Provo River, one of the world's premier trout rivers.
1 night SundanceClose
Sundance to Moab
Around 4 hour drive from Sundance
Moab is not only the ‘adventure capital’ of Utah but it is surrounded by astonishing natural beauty. Moab itself is a bustling town with lots of hotels, restaurants and bars but you are really coming here to see the 2,000 natural stone arches of Arches National Park and the jaw-dropping Canyonlands National Park. Amongst the many activities available, Frontier America would suggest a Hummer tour, some white water rafting or some horseriding. The best accommodation is actually outside Moab; we would recommend the Red Cliffs Resort about 25 minutes out of town where the Movie Museum of Moab in housed. Sorrel River Ranch, just down the road, was where Johnny Depp stayed when they were making Lone Ranger. Notable film credits include Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade which were filmed at the Arches, Thelma and Louise's famous cliff jump was at Dead Horse Point State Park,
2 nights in Moab
Moab to Monument Valley
3 hour drive from Moab
Monument Valley is in the Navajo reservation established in 1958 on the border of Arizona and Utah; it is about 5,500 feet above sea level with temperatures averaging about 90F in summer with just 8 inches of rain per year. Yet despite these tough conditions, Monument Valley has been the setting for more Western movies than any other site in the United States. You cannot help but be fascinated with its unique sandstone formations, the Navajo Indian Nation and the Four Corners Monument which between them define this vast, open desert region. Classic films such as Stagecoach and the Easy Rider films of the 1960s were filmed here along with more recent offerings such as Forest Gump and the Lone Ranger.
You can stay either in Gouldings in the heart of the valley or the Desert Rose Inn in Bluff.
NB Be warned! if you stay in the Valley, the reservation is "dry" in all senses of the word and you will only be served non-alcoholic drinks.
2 nights Monument Valley
Monument Valley to Capitol Reef or Amangiri
Today is decision day! You can either drive to the Capitol Reef National Park or decide that you need a break from the Parks in the utter luxury of the Amangiri Resort near Lake Powell. Capitol Reef is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extending almost 100 miles.
Your hotel for the night will either be at the Broken Spur Inn in Torrey or, as they say for something completely different, an old fashioned Airstream (many of which have been used by stars such as Cary Grant whilst on location) at the Shooting Star RV park in Escalente. Between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon is one of the one of the most scenic of all the scenic byways in the USA: Scenic Byway Highway 12. There are lots of places to stop along the way, one of the more interesting is the Upper Valley Graineries
Tucked into the cliff face above this pull-out is a small stone-and-mud-daubed structure constructed by Ancient Puebloans. The structure is thought to be a storage place for corn, grain, and other foods grown and harvested nearby. A viewing tube directs your eyes to the granary that would otherwise be hard to see as it blends so well into the landscape
If you choose Amangiri, assuming you can pull yourself away from the resort, you can visit Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell and rejoin the main holiday in Zion.
1 night wherever you choose
Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon
Escalante to Bryce Canyon 1 hour drive.
See the spectacular red rock amphitheatre of Bryce Canyon and its thousands of delicately carved, brilliantly coloured spires (like giant red rock Terracotta Warriors). On a quiet day, stand in the valley floor and you will hear the rocks cracking sending pebbles bouncing down sounding like rainfall. Millions of years of wind, water and geologic mayhem have shaped and etched the pink cliffs at Bryce, which isn't actually a canyon but the eastern slope of the Paunsaguant Plateau.
The Bryce Amphitheater is one of a series of "breaks" eroded into the eastern slope of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The rock that caps the plateau has a pink hue and it varies considerably in terms of hardness. Over millions of years, softer spots have eroded away. Harder rock has remained and has been chiseled by wind and water into interesting shapes - the cliffs, hoodoos and castles that make Bryce famous.
You can drive on to Zion but we recommend a night at Ruby's Inn or the Lodge at Bryce Canyon in the park so that you can gaze at the stars at night led by expert ‘Dark Rangers’
1 night Bryce Canyon
Head to Zion National Park Zion was first inhabited over 8000 years ago by small groups of Native Americans but the name comes from the Mormons who settled the area in the 1850s. The Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep, was cut through the reddish and tan-coloured Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River and results in one of the most stunning of all the amazing US parks. Hiking possibilities are endless but amongst the favourites are The Narrows through the waters of the Virgin River or up the steep face of Angels Landing.
During your 2-day stay, film buffs can visit Grafton, the ‘ghost town’, near Springdale where the famous bicycle scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was filmed. You might like to detour to the film industry town of Kanab, close to Lake Powell and home to the Little Hollywood Museum. Kanab’s film debut was in 1924 with Deadwood Coach and when Frank Sinatra came to town with the Rat Pack, he paid for a swimming pool to be built at the Parry Lodge – where guests can still stay.We suggest staying at Zion Mountain Ranch near the back entrance to the park or Zion Lodge which is in the park.
2 nights ZionClose
Zion to Las Vegas 2.5 hours drive.
The switch from the natural beauties of the Utah National Parks to the razzmatazz of Vegas might just blow your mind, but on the assumption that you survive, we recommend a couple of days in Vegas before returning home. A visit to the Grand Canyon can form part of your stay too.
3 nights in Las Vegas
This is a selection of hotels for this itinerary. Some areas have many more choices; please use the search function above if you wish to find an alternative hotel.
Salt Lake City
Zion National Park
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