Setting can play as pivotal a part in a film as actors, and when it comes to dramatic locations, a green screen’s got nothing on Colorado.
Our journey through a selection of the state’s real- world movie sets starts in La Junta, home to shooting locations for the 1962 series “How the West Was Won”; 1974’s “Mr. Majestyk,” with Charles Bronson; and 1973’s “Badlands,” an early project by director Terrence Malick, starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek.
From the dusty high plains, we travel west to Cañon City and more “High Noon”-type action. Buckskin Joe Frontier Town and Railway, the former movie set built in 1957 of historic structures relocated from the central part of the state, is closed, but visitors can cruise by the place where stars such as John Wayne (“True Grit,” “The Cowboys”), Jane Fonda (“Cat Ballou”) and Kevin Kline (“Silverado”) once rattled spurs. Historic Hotel St. Cloud (hotelstcloud.com), Tinseltown’s “home away from home” during the area’s movie boom, is in the midst of a major restoration project.
John Wayne’s iconic performance as Rooster Cogburn in the 1969 film “True Grit” carried him from Cañon City west to our next pair of destinations, Ridgway and Ouray, where the movie’s courtroom scenes were filmed.
Take a short drive to Telluride’s New Sheridan Hotel (newsheridan.com), featured in the 1969 western “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Though the film is set in Wyoming, Quentin Tarantino shot almost all of 2015’s “The Hateful Eight” west of town at Schmid Ranch (schmidranchtelluride.com), a family farm that’s been in operation since 1882.
From Telluride, head northwest into Mesa County to follow part of the route renegade besties “Thelma and Louise” (1991) took on their ill-fated run for the border. Scenes were shot in Unaweep Canyon and a now-closed store in unincorporated Bedrock.
Travel back to the turn of the 20th century – and about 20 minutes south of Carbondale – where Redstone Castle stood in for the Colorado Springs stomping grounds of Nikola Tesla in 2006’s “The Prestige.”
Continue east to Breckenridge for another city that doubled for one of its neighbors – in this case Aspen, the fabled destination of the two bumbling protagonists in the 1994 Farrelly Brothers flick “Dumb and Dumber.”
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