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Movies — Eastern Sierra Landscapes

I’m a fan of westerns and I also love the Eastern Sierra, particularly in autumn. A few movies show off some of the scenery in a way I found interesting in terms of my own experience, and might be of interest to anyone looking to visit the general area.

  • Pale Rider has some very nice late autumn first-snow footage as well as some general Eastern Sierra scenery.
  • High Plains Drifter takes place near Mono Lake (“Lago”).
  • Joe Kidd appears to have been filmed at least in part near the Alabama Hills.

Never mind the reviews by film critics, who apparently just don’t like westerns. Make sure to watch in BluRay or HD.

For weather, see Dennis Mattinson’s Eastern Sierra Weather Center.

Dan M writes:

Let's not forget the Alabama Hills, one of Ansel's favorite workshop sites and the most over-filmed landscape in world history:

What's weird is to camp there and realize you're camping right on the scene of several movies. In the 90s we camped at the wonderful spot that looks out over a level plain leading up to that last (and I think biggest) ridge of the Alabama Hills on the west side, the ridge that runs slightly off parallel to the first slope of Mt Whitney, below the Whitney Portals road switchback. There's no mistaking that camp spot, as it's up about 75-100 feet above the plain and the very last high ground before that flat plain leading to the big ridge. Maybe 50 feet below that campsite is where one of the scenes from Kevin Bacon's Tremors took place. The big ridge is prominent in the background throughout that Tremors scene and in the foreground you can see some distinct marker rocks that lead up to our old campsite, which was probably covered up in film equipment and vehicles during the film, since the flat area below had to be kept clear for the scene.

This site is amazing. The guy has cataloged some of the movies and TV series filmed at The Hills and located specific spots where scenes were filmed.

I loved 'Paladin'. Way, way ahead of it's time. It was 25 years before some (not all) of TV drama caught up to it. To have wandered the same hills as in some Paladin scenes is incredible.

One of the spots here in E. TN we used to take my son and his young friends for fossil hunting is near the red river drainage on the east side of the Cumberland Plateau. The hairy, muddy drive up the mountain begins off TN Hwy 116, going up Fork Mtn. This is just NE of Petros, TN. The ridge you have to cross from Petros to there is the ridge where James Earl Ray was found after his escape from Brushy Mtn Prison in Petros. The little community on the river, just below the strip mine road turnoff (fossils) is where the mine scenes were filmed in October Sky.

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