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7 real locations from outdoor movies to explore

Take a trip and see where some famous movies were filmed

Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Professional 4K Video camera on tripod shooting time lapse of downtown panorama in sunset. Rocky beach of Toronto Island. Shallow depth of field with point of the focus on rear of the camera
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As much as we might love being outdoors, there are times that call for staying in. Whether you’re enjoying a movie night in or looking for your next outdoor adventure, there are quite a few classic, quintessential films that capture life outdoors with stunning scenery: movies filmed on location.

For example, Free Solo traced rock climber Alex Honnold’s free-climb ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Apart from the jaw-dropping climb itself, one of California’s most popular parks is captured beautifully, too. That’s why these outdoor-themed movies and their amazing real-life settings are worth planning your own adventure trip around.

A River Runs Through It (1992)

A River Runs Through It
68%
7.2/10
123m
Genre
Drama, Family
Stars
Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt
Directed by
Robert Redford
Watch on Amazon
An absolute must-watch for any outdoor enthusiast, A River Runs Through It was filmed in some of the most beautiful landscapes of the western U.S. Though the book and movie are set in Missoula, Montana, the film was actually shot in a number of locations other than Missoula, including the small Montana towns of Bozeman and Livingston. But of course, the movie’s river scenes are one of the greatest appeals of A River Runs Through It.  The filming locations for those scenes included Yellowstone River, Boulder River, and Gallatin River. There were also some parts of the movie that were shot in Jackson, Wyoming. However, that was some 30 years before it was the ultra-luxe destination it is today.

Into the Wild (2007)

Into the Wild
73%
8.1/10
148m
Genre
Adventure, Drama
Stars
Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt
Directed by
Sean Penn
Watch on Amazon
Another cult classic is Into The Wild, which is also based on the book by Jon Krakauer. The movie is about backpacking through some of the most primitive and remote wilderness in the U.S. in Alaska after the main character graduates from college. While the book tracks the character from the end of his time in an Atlanta college all the way to the Alaskan forests, the movie was actually shot in a number of other states. The scenes took place in South Dakota, Oregon, and even Arizona. Of course, some of the movie was also shot in the real place — Alaska — too.

Legends of the Fall (1994)

Legends of the Fall
45%
7.5/10
133m
Genre
Adventure, Drama, Romance, War, Western
Stars
Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn
Directed by
Edward Zwick
Watch on Amazon
For those who are unfamiliar, Legends of the Fall is a historical drama about a family living in the western United States and the troubles they face, as well as the atrocities committed against Native American people. While the beloved classic movie is meant to take place in the American West, it was actually filmed in northwestern provinces of Canada, including British Columbia and Alberta. From Calgary to Vancouver, the film spans many stunning locations, such as the Ghost River in Alberta and Gastown, Vancouver. There’s even one part of the movie that was filmed in St. Anne, Jamaica. So, if this is a favorite for you, add Western Canada to your outdoors-based travel bucket list.

The Great Outdoors (1988)

The Great Outdoors
24%
6.6/10
91m
Genre
Comedy
Stars
Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Stephanie Faracy
Directed by
Howard Deutch
Watch on Amazon
Moving away from more somber and sad films, albeit stunning odes to nature, John Candy and Dan Aykroyd star in The Great Outdoors, a comedy any outdoors enthusiast has to see at some point. So many have an idealistic picture of a family camping vacation only to have it turn into a comical disaster which is undoubtedly why the comedy has such a cult following. Set in rural Wisconsin, the movie was ultimately filmed in its entirety in California, clear across the country.

The Hunger Games (2012)

The Hunger Games
68%
7.2/10
142m
Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy
Stars
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Directed by
Gary Ross
Watch on Amazon
While The Hunger Games might not be your typical idea of an outdoor movie, Katniss Everdeen’s hunting skills and love for the forests of her district in the books meant that the movies were partially filmed in one of the most underrated outdoor destinations of the U.S. — the Appalachian mountains. The first movie was largely filmed outside of Asheville, North Carolina, in small state parks with gorgeous scenery. The mountainous landscape and its forests are some of the most biodiverse places you can find and home to the oldest mountains in the world. So, if you haven’t been, add Asheville to your bucket list for hiking, foraging, and maybe even channeling your inner survivalist.

The Revenant (2015)

The Revenant
76%
8/10
157m
Genre
Western, Drama, Adventure
Stars
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson
Directed by
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Watch on Apple TV+
While we sincerely hope no one has an encounter with a bear such as Leonardo DiCaprio did in his role as a frontiersman in The Revenant, the movie does share an appreciation for the severity of the forces of nature. Though the movie was meant to take place in the Western Territories of the U.S. in the 1820s, the film was made in a number of mountainous destinations across the equator. Filming locations included Fortress Mountain in Alberta, Canada and Kootenai Falls in Montana. However, the final scenes were filmed in Argentina and Chile among Tierra del Fuego.

Dances with Wolves (1990)

Dances with Wolves
181m
Genre
Adventure, Drama, Western
Stars
Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene
Directed by
Kevin Costner
Watch on Amazon
This 1990 Kevin Costner epic, Dances with Wolves, is a historical drama about a Civil War soldier who befriends a tribe of Lakota Sioux. Though the movie is set in the American West, it was filmed in the western Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. The movie spans many locations from Calgary to Vancouver. Some of the stunning locations include the Ghost River in Alberta and Gastown, Vancouver. There’s even a scene filmed in St. Mary Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana.
Movie images and data from:
Molly Harris
Molly Harris is a freelance journalist, cyclist and outdoor enthusiast. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Lonely…
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