Discover These 3 Star Wars Filming Locations in the US

Many of the most memorable sequences from the original Star Wars (including Tatooine) were filmed in Tunisia, one of several Star Wars set locations that you may see on an overseas vacation. However, certain scenes were shot in the United States, including in California’s Redwood National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Buttercup Valley in the Yuma Desert.

While the majority of the most renowned Star Wars filming locations are spread around the globe, several are located in California. It turns out that, while there are many things to do in Death Valley, finding Star Wars filming locations is one of the most unexpected.

Death Valley National Park: The Desert Lands of Tatooine

Death Valley National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States, as well as one of the most otherworldly vistas (ideal for filming).

Discover These 3 Star Wars Filming Locations in the US

Death Valley was one of the filming locations for the original Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV, previously Episode I).

A number of Tatooine scenes were filmed at Death Valley, including one of the film’s opening scenes, in which R2-D2 and C-3PO part ways after landing on Tatooine while escaping Darth Vader and taking over Princess Leia’s ship. This sequence was filmed in Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (with some video from Tunisia, North Africa).

Death Valley Filming Location:

  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
  • Artists Palette and Golden Canyon
  • Artist’s Drive
  • Desolation Canyon
  • Dante’s View
  • Twenty-Mule Team Canyon

Death Valley’s artists The Jawas abducted R2-D2 in Palette & Golden Canyon (at least partially, as this scene also includes footage from Tunisia). Other scenes shot (or partially shot) in Death Valley include Artist’s Drive (where the Jawas carried R2-D2), Desolation Canyon (the scene of Tusken Raiders getting on their Bantha just before attacking Luke Skywalker), and Dante’s View (used as an establishing shot for Mos Eisley).

Entry Fee: $30 Per Private Vehicle (National Park Entrance Fee); Open all year

In Return of the Jedi, Death Valley reappeared in a sequence filmed at Twenty-Mule Team Canyon as C-3PO and R2-D2 walk up to Jabba the Hutt’s Palace on the planet Tatooine.

Redwood National Park: The Forest Moon of Endor

Several scenes from the original trilogy’s finale, Return of the Jedi (episode VI, formerly episode III), were filmed in northern California’s Del Norte County redwoods. Many of the shots from the Endor moon were filmed in Del Norte County’s redwood forests.

Del Norte County Filming Locations:

  • Chetham Grove
  • now a cleared private logging land
Discover These 3 Star Wars Filming Locations in the US

The speeder pursuit sequence in Endor’s forests was filmed in Chetham Grove at Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, near the famous Avenue of the Giants in the beautiful Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Some sequences were also shot on private logging ground, which was cleared following the filming.

Entry Fee: None (Humboldt Redwoods State Park); Open all year

Endor is a moon in the Star Wars universe known for its seemingly endless forests and other verdant landscapes, with few oceans. It played an important role in the Return of the Jedi plot and served as the home of the Ewoks. Darth Vader’s funeral took place on Endor near the end of the trilogy.

Buttercup Valley: The Great Pit of Carkoon

Buttercup Valley, located in the desert near Yuma, Arizona, is the third Star Wars filming location in the United States. In Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, and Hans Solo were sentenced to death by being tossed into the Great Pit of Carkoon.

The Imperial Sand Dunes, a renowned dune buggy attraction, served as the filming location.

Discover These 3 Star Wars Filming Locations in the US

Buttercup Valley Filming Locations:

  • Imperial Sand Dunes

A gigantic replica spaceship was created in the desert for filming this scene (but it has since been disassembled). The filming took place in 1982, but the set took five months to complete (the team stayed in Yuma, Arizona, the nearest town).

Entrance: Permits are required from October 1 to April 15 each year for $35 per week.

Seeing the actual Star Wars filming locations can be an unforgettable experience, but there are many other popular movie filming places to visit throughout the United States after you’ve finished touring Tatooine and Endor.


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