Moab Museum of Film & Western Heritage

celebrating the spirit of America's Western heritage as showcased by films made in the Moab to Monument Valley region of Utah

Film Highlights

Film History

The most notable titles from a century of filmmaking in the Moab to Monument Valley region of southeastern Utah

  • 1925: The Vanishing American is the first film made in southeastern Utah

  • 1939: Director John Ford gives John Wayne his big break in Stagecoach, partially filmed in Monument Valley

  • 1949: George White and friends establish the Moab Movie Committee (later Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission)

  • 1950: John Ford is the first filmmaker to use Moab area locations in the Western Wagonmaster

  • 1950: A military fort is built at the White Ranch for John Ford’s Rio Grande

  • 1953: Taza, Son of Cochise, starring Rock Hudson, is partially filmed at Red Cliffs Ranch

  • 1960: Ten Who Dared, based on John Wesley Powell’s expedition, is partially filmed at Red Cliffs Ranch

  • 1964: Cheyenne Autumn, partially filmed at Red Cliffs Ranch, is John Ford’s last Western

  • 1968: Stanley Kubrik uses Monument Valley for outer space exploration in 2001: A Space Odyssey

  • 1971: The cult classic Vanishing Point is one of the first films in the American muscle-car chase genre. The 1997 remake was also partially filmed in the Moab area.

  • 1983: The Griswolds make an unscheduled stop in Monument Valley for National Lampoon’s Vacation

  • 1989: Steven Spielberg brings River Phoenix to Arches for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

  • 1991: Ridley Scott directs an all-star cast in the Oscar-winning film Thelma and Louise

  • 1994: Forrest Gump finishes his cross-country run in Monument Valley

  • 1999: Galaxy Quest brings Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, and Sigourney Weaver to Goblin Valley

  • 2002: Windtalkers celebrates Navajo military servicemembers in WWII

  • 2010: Aron Ralston’s true story of survival in Canyonlands is told in 127 Hours

  • 2013: Johnny Depp becomes Tonto in The Lone Ranger

  • 2014: Mark Wahlberg and Optimus Prime visit Hole ‘N The Rock in Transformers: Age of Extinction

  • 2018: The Coen Brothers apply their signature style to the Western with The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

John Ford

Highlights of director John Ford’s career in the Moab to Monument Valley region, also known as “John Ford Country”

  • 1939: John Ford is enticed to Monument Valley by the Goulding’s for the film Stagecoach

  • 1946: John Ford builds “Tombstone” in Monument Valley for My Darling Clementine starring Henry Fonda

  • 1948: Fort Apache is the first film in John Ford’s “cavalry trilogy”

  • 1949: She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is John Ford’s second “cavalry” film

  • 1950: John Ford is the first filmmaker to use Moab area locations in the Western Wagonmaster

  • 1950: Rio Grande is the first movie filmed at Red Cliffs Ranch and last of the “cavalry trilogy”

  • 1956: The Searchers is considered to be one of the most influential Westerns ever made

  • 1960: Sergeant Rutledge is the first Western to feature a Black hero, played by Woody Strode

  • 1963: John Ford, Henry Hathaway, and George Marshall direct How the West Was Won

  • 1964: John Ford’s last Western, Cheyenne Autumn portrays Native American hardships

John Wayne

Every film The Duke made in the Moab to Monument Valley region, including the movie that launched him into stardom

  • 1939: John Wayne gets his big break in Stagecoach and reignites America’s love of Westerns

  • 1947: John Wayne plays a renegade who falls in love with a Quaker in Angel and the Badman

  • 1948: John Wayne reunites with director John Ford for a “cavalry trilogy” beginning with Fort Apache

  • 1949: His role in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon was one of John Wayne’s personal favorites

  • 1950: John Wayne co-stars with Maureen O’Hara in Rio Grande, filmed at Red Cliffs Ranch

  • 1956: John Wayne is driven by revenge in John Ford’s epic masterpiece, The Searchers

  • 1961: John Wayne makes his first appearance as “Big Jake” when he stars in, and partially directs, The Comancheros

  • 1963: John Wayne plays General Sherman in How the West Was Won

  • 1965: John Wayne makes a cameo appearance in The Greatest Story Ever Told

Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Notable Sci-Fi and Fantasy pictures made in the Moab to Monument Valley region

  • 1968: Acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick is the first to use southeastern Utah locations to represent outer space in 2001: A Space Odyssey

  • 1983: Peter Strauss and Molly Ringwald star in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

  • 1984: Jeff Bridges plays an alien on Earth in Starman, directed by John Carpenter

  • 1988: The water supply in a small Utah town is contaminated, turning locals into deranged killers in Nightmare at Noon

  • 1989: Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat blends comedy, horror, and Western genres with stars David Carradine, Bruce Campbell, and John Ireland

  • 1990: Marty McFly assumes the alias “Clint Eastwood” when he goes back to the past to save Doc in Back to the Future III.

  • 1999: An all-star cast is led by Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver in the sci-fi parody Galaxy Quest

  • 2012: John Carter, based on the influential novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, utilizes landscapes in Moab and Monument Valley for Barsoom