Arizona is home to the jaw-dropping Grand Canyon, crazy desert wildlife, and very hot summers.
If you haven’t been living under a rock (see what I did there?), there’s a 99% chance that you’re familiar with Arizona’s Monument Valley. It’s one of the most photographed landmarks in the United States! It’s a pretty popular backdrop for western films, but it’s made some other, more unique, appearances, too. Check them out!
Okay, so Stagecoach is basically what you would expect to see filmed in Monument Valley. Way back in 1939, Director John Ford took the iconic American film actor John Wayne out to Arizona, and he liked it so much he returned 9 times to shoot other westerns!
#2 The Searchers
The Searchers is another movie that John Ford chose to shoot in Arizona, even though the actual setting was in Texas. His movie became so iconic, that if you visit Monument Valley, you will often see a lone man on a horse paying homage to the film at the lookout point nicknamed “John Ford’s Point.”
#3 2001:A Space Odyssey
This one might not look much like the Monument Valley that we’re used to seeing, but it is! In 1968, Stanley Kubrick chose Monument Valley (with a healthy dose of special effects, obviously) to depict an alien planet that his main character was forced to navigate. Talk about creative!
#4 Forrest Gump
Now here’s a movie everyone knows! It was here in Monument Valley that Forrest’s cross country run came to an end. U.S. Route 163 cuts right through the heart of Monument Valley, making it a great place for a scenic drive, or, uh….run.
#5 Mission Impossible II
Here is Tom Cruise doing some fancy footwork on a Monument Valley cliffside. What could possibly be a better setting for an action packed movie full of daring stunts?
Animated movies aren’t to be forgotten, either. In 2006, Disney was inspired to create the spoof town “Ornament Valley” as a home for their fun loving automobiles. In this version of the Valley, the peaks are all shaped like the hood ornaments of cars.
#7 The Lone Ranger
It’s surprising that we haven’t seen more of Johnny Depp in Monument Valley, with as many films as he has been in. In this 2013 movie, he plays the ancient Native American sidekick of a wild west law man, The Lone Ranger. It’s no wonder they chose Monument Valley as a backdrop for this adventurous story.
#8 National Lampoon’s Vacation
In this classic, we see the Griswolds pass by many iconic U.S. landmarks. Of course, Monument Valley is among them. Here we see them enjoying a pleasant drive…. or should we say flight?
#9 A Million Ways to Die in the West
This 2014 comedy/western tracks the adventures of sheep farmer Albert Stark. Unfortunately, he doesn’t exactly seem to be cut out for wild west living. But with a backdrop as beautiful as Monument Valley, we’re definitely down to watch him struggle.
#10 Transformers: Age of Extinction
There are a whole lot of epic Transformer battles in this action-packed 2014 movie. The towering rocks and shadowy light of Monument Valley only serve to bring even more visual drama to this edge of your seat film.