Colorado certainly has a lot to offer landscape-wise, with four national parks: Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison, each with their very own splendor.
The “Centennial State” is full of other natural wonders, such as the red rocks of the Garden of the Gods or the hot springs of Pagosa Springs (the deepest hot springs in the world).
For these reasons, and so many more, the state whose summit (Pike’s Peak) actually inspired the song “America the Beautiful,” is not only an ideal playground for tourism, but also for Hollywood movie studios.
Of course, there are several movies that most anyone could guess shot in Colorado. A great deal of Stephen King’s The Stand took place and was shot in Boulder. And as in every other location in the movie, City Slickers had scenes that took place in Durango and were filmed there. But you might be surprised to learn a few others. While it was set literally across the globe (and then some), many scenes from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed in Colorado.
And although the Griswolds have always called Chicago their home, many of the exterior shots of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation were shot in Breckenridge.
Then there are movies that were clearly set elsewhere but shot in Colorado. You might have been fooled by the sets and accents, but the Hugh Jackman/Christian Bale thriller/mystery, The Prestige, was not filmed in London, but instead in parts of Telluride and Durango. And Charlie Chaplin’s classic Gold Rush took place in Alaska but had many scenes in Mount Lincoln.
In all, there are currently well over 100 films shot on location in Colorado, and it doesn’t look like it will be slowing down any time soon.
Movies Filmed in the State of Colorado
City Slickers (1991)
City Slickers, directed by Ron Underwood and stars Billy Crystal and Jack Palance, is a Western comedy film about three friends who go on a cattle drive from New Mexico to Colorado.
The shooting locations in Colorado include Durango, a historic city known for cultural attractions and outdoor activities. The main filming location is New Mexico.
1h 53min | PG-13
Dear Eleanor (2014)
Dear Eleanor is a coming-of-age film directed by Kevin Connolly and stars Isabelle Fuhrman and Liana Liberato, who play two teenage girls who travel the states in search of Eleanor Roosevelt.
The film has many Colorado filming locations, including towns in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, including areas like Longmont, Boulder, and Lyon, and Nederland.
1h 29min | PG-13
This one’s a neo-noir 1973 film directed by Terrence Malick and stars Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. The story is loosely based on the murder spree by Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate. The film is considered as one of the greatest, as well as one of the most influential of all time.
The scenes shot in Colorado include the Bloom Mansion in Trinidad and the historic Pueblo’s Rosemont Museum. Other Colorado areas includeLa Junta and Las Animas.
1h 34min | PG
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The Steven Spielberg-directed Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the third installment of the Indiana Jones franchise. Starring Harrison Ford and Sean Connery, the film has a lot of filming locations, from the US to Europe.
One of the Colorado filming locations includes Cortez, a famous tourist destination for its many prehistoric sites like the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument and the Mesa Verde National Park.
2h 7min | PG-13
The Stand (1994)
This one’s not a film, but a miniseries based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. This post-apocalyptic horror story has a long list of actors, including Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald.
The show is a story about how a lethal strain of bioweapon influenza is accidentally released. One of its settings in the book is Boulder, Colorado, which eventually became a filming location. Most of the film, however, was filmed in Utah.
6h 1min | Not rated
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
This film is the third installment of the successful National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation series. Written by John Hughes and stars Chevy Chase, the film tells the story of the Griswold family’s Christmas plans turning into a disaster.
The film has a number of locations in Colorado, including Summit County, Frisco, and Breckenridge. Another main location is the Warner Bros. Studios in California.
1h 37min | PG-13
The Prestige (2006)
Based upon the 1995 novel by Christopher Priest, this thriller about revenge and one-upping involved two rival magicians, played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. Costars included Scarlett Johansson and Michael Caine. The story was set in London in the late 1800s, with locations all over Colorado, including Durango, Telluride, and Redstone.
One key character is Nikola Tesla (played by the late David Bowie), an American scientist who did research in Colorado Springs. Nolan himself visited the area for his own research. A key location is the Redstone, Colorado home of John C. Osgood, owner of the Colorado Fuel and Iron company.
The Gold Rush (1925)
Written, produced, directed and stars Charlie Chaplin, The Gold Rush is a 1925 American comedy film about a gold prospector during the Klondike Gold Rush in Alaska.
The filming locations are mostly composed of California areas (mostly in Los Angeles), but some scenes were also shot in Colorado (Mt. Lincoln).
The film was a huge success and is regarded as one of the most important silent films of all time. Chaplin also said that this is the film that he wants to be remembered for.
Away We Go (2009)
Directed by Sam Mendes and written by author Dave Eggers, Away We Go is a comedy-drama film starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolf, who play couple Burt and Verona, who are looking for the perfect place to raise their child.
The film, which follows that couple’s road trips to visit family and friends, shot in a number of locations, including Colorado, Arizona, and Connecticut.
1h 38min | R
Independence Day (1996)
Sci-fi film Independence Day, directed by Roland Emmerich, and stars Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith, and Bill Pullman, tells the story of aliens wanting to destroy Earth.
The film has many shooting locations. The military scenes were films at the Peterson Air Force base in Colorado Springs. Others were filmed in places like the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, White Sands in New Mexico, and the Mojave Desert in Arizona.
2h 25min | PG-13
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
1994 comedy Dumb and Dumber, directed by Peter Farrelly and starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, tells the story of two friends who go on a roadtrip from Rhode Island to Aspen, Colorado.
The filming locations took place in different Colorado spots. The Aspen scenes were filmed in Breckenridge, and the film’s Danbury Hotel was filmed in the Stanley Hotel in Estates Park, Colorado.
Other locations include Salt Lake City and Park City in Utah; and Providence and Cumberland in Rhode Island.
Cop Car (2015)
Cop Car is a thriller film directed by Colorado-raised Jon Watts, and stars Kevin Bacon. It tells the story of two boys who steal an abandoned cop car of a corrupt sheriff.
The film has a lot of shots on the road, and included th mountains around Fountain, Colorado. In an interview with the Denver Post, Watts said: “I’m driving on the road I would take to get to high school every morning, except this time I’m driving with a camera on my lap filming Kevin Bacon.”
Silver City (2004)
Political satire film Silver City, directed by John Sayles and stars Chris Cooper, tells the story of Dicky Pilager, a son of a political dynasty, who is running for Governor of Colorado.
The filming locations in Colorado include Idaho Springs, Leadville, Sedalia, and Denver. Some of the popular sites include the Argo Mill and Tunnel and the Cherokee Ranch and Castle—both historic Colorado destinations.
2h 8 min | R
The Lone Ranger (2013)
The Lone Ranger, based on the famous masked Texas Ranger, is a 2013 movie directed by Gore Verbinski and stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer.
The film was shot in different states such as Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. The Colorado filming locations include Creede, known for its stunning sheer cliffs; and Alamosa, home to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
2h 30min | PG-13
The Shining (1980)
The Shining, based on Stephen King’s famous novel of the same name, is considered one of the greatest horror films ever made, is directed by Stanley Kubrick, and stars Jack Nicholson.
One of the places that inspired the novel by King is the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, but due to filming limitations, Kubrick filmed the scene elsewhere. There are, however scenes shot in Colorado, including the Kensington Apartment Homes in Boulder. Most of the film was shot in the United Kingdom.
2h 26min | R
Catch and Release (2006)
Catch and Release is a romantic comedy written and directed by Susannah Grant and stars Jennifer Garner. The film tells the story of Garner’s character Gray, who discovers the secrets of her dead fiancé.
The setting and filming locations are in Boulder, Colorado and Vancouver, British Columbia. One of the locations includes Pearl Street Mall, a popular Boulder destination surrounded by over a thousand businesses like restaurants, shops, and historic buildings.
2h 4min | PG-13
Furious 7 (2015)
This is the seventh installment of the Fast & Furious franchise (and the last movie where the late Paul Walker made an appearance).
The filming locations include different countries, from United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi) to Canada (Ontario). One of the locations in the United States includes Colorado, specifically Teller County in Aspen Ranch. The famous airdrop scene was filmed at Pike’s Peak near Colorado Springs.
2h 17min | PG-13
True Grit (1969)
Although another adaptation was done in 2010, this Western starring John Wayne was the first of Charles Portis’s 1968 novel about Rooster Cogburn trying to catch Tom Chaney. It also gave the actor his one and only Oscar for Best Actor. The story was set in Arkansas and Oklahoma, with filming done in and around Montrose and Ouray.
2h 8min | G
Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead (1995)
Starring big Hollywood names including Andy Garcia, Steve Buscemi, and Christopher Walken, this crime movie about one crook’s last job before going straight was named after Warren Zevon’s 1991 song. Locations for the film included Denver (unsurprisingly) as well as some areas of California.
1h 55min | R
Blades of Glory (2007)
This sports comedy paired (literally) Jon Heder and Will Ferrell as figure skaters, who despite their disdain for one another, are forced to skate as doubles if they ever want to compete again. Filming locations included Colorado State University in Fort Collins as well as the Pepsi Center (now Ball Arena) in Denver.
1 h 33 min | PG-13
Continental Divide (1981)
The first of close to 100 films (and counting) to be produced by Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, this romcom starred John Belushi as a newspaper reporter sent to the Rocky Mountains to gain information on bald eagles. Filming took place in several states including Custer, Pueblo City, Royal Gorge, and Hermit Lake in Colorado.
1 h 42 min| PG
Find out if Rodney Dangerfield finally does “get some respect” in this comedy where he plays a coach for a girls’ soccer team in Denver. The film costars the late Jonathan Brandis, who impersonates a young girl in order to join the team and help them win. Filming locations included Denver, Englewood, and Littleton.
1h 30min | PG-13
A pro at the action/adventure movie genre, this film had none other than Sylvester Stallone in its starring role as a mountain rescuer. And like the Rocky franchise, he was also involved in the screenplay. Although the film was set in the Rocky Mountains, the majority of it was filmed in Italy, with only a few scenes done in Durango.
1 h 52 min | R
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Director Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, this revisionist western starred Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and a host of others, who become trapped together during a blizzard. The majority of the film was shot in Telluride. It won an Oscar for Best Original Score.
2 h 47 min | R
Aspen Extreme (1993)
Two friends (Paul Gross and Peter Berg) relocate from Michigan to Aspen, looking for a change of pace. But as with any life changes, plenty of obstacles stand in the way of these ski instructors. Filming was done in Aspen, as well as Michigan, California, and even British Columbia. Soap opera veteran Finola Hughes costarred.
1 h 57 min | PG-13
Die Hard 2 (1990)
John McClane is back in this sequel; this time promising to die harder. Bruce Willis reprised his role and just like the first, this one also takes place on Christmas Eve, this time at Dulles Airport in Virginia. Filming locations included the now-defunct Stapleton International Airport in Denver, and also Mead and Breckenridge.
2 h 3 min| R
The Legend of Billie Jean (1995)
This drama starred the not-actually-related Helen Slater and Christian Slater (in his third movie role) as brother and sister. The story about a young woman who must constantly battle evil men takes place in Texas, where some filming locations were done. Copper Mountain and Curtain Ponds stood in for the Vermont scenes.
1 h 35 min | PG-13
Our Souls at Night (2017)
Based upon the 2015 novel by Kent Haruf, this romance film released through Netflix starred Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, in their fourth film collaboration. The story took place in a fictitious small city in Colorado with filming locations in both Colorado Springs and Florence.
If you’re not convinced that Colorado is a great destination for filmmaking, here are few more fun facts. Denver, known as the “mile high city” due to it being one mile above sea level (5,280 feet), has the largest city park system in all of the United States. It’s also one of the “Four Corners” states, the only area in the country where four states connect, along with Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona.
Denver is also one of the few places you can watch a professional football game (Broncos), a hockey game (Avalanche), a baseball game (Rockies), and even a basketball game (Nuggets) all in the same city.