Walt Disney Pictures recently released John Carter. The film follows the story of a civil war soldier, John Carter, who is mysteriously transported to Mars. Once there he helps in the war between the Green Martians and the Red Martians. John Carter is an action-packed, computer animated thrill ride. However, what got us so excited about the film were the filming locations. Director Andrew Stanton chose to shoot the principle photography for the scenes on Mars here in Southern Utah. Because we found this one of the most appealing aspects of John Carter, we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch have compiled a list of the filming locations for you to visit.
Wayne County – the scene when John Carter first arrives on Mars was shot in our very own county. Filmed near the town of Hanksville, in the West Desert, this scene invites the audience into the bleak, stark beauty of Southern Utah. Hanksville is located an hour east of Capitol Reef National Park. Most people pass through it on their way to Lake Powell. One of the most popular activities in the Hanksville area is touring the desert on off-highway vehicles.
Kane County – Disney’s production crew much of their time filming in three major locations in Kane County. The first location was near the county seat of Kanab. Kanab is a veritable hub of national and state parks. It is located near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, near Zion National Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park (the perfect place to race dirt bikes,) and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. As you can imagine, Disney picked a prime location for the red sandstone look of Mars. In fact, on of the campaigning slogans of Kane county is, “our own piece of heaven.”
The second location in Kane County was Big Water, Utah. Big Water is a small town near the very southern most part of Utah. The town is situated in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Since most people never see this part of Grand Staircase (preferring instead Scenic Highway 12) it is worth visiting the area. The main attractions of Big Water are the great hiking opportunities, so pack your hiking boots.
The third location in Kane County was near Mount Carmel Junction. Mount Carmel is about 17 miles east of Zion National Park. (You might recognize the name from the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel in the national park.) The John Carter production team actually got permission from the national park to build a road out to a very remote location, previously only accessible on foot. An extensive amount of the principle photography was shot in the Zion/Mount Carmel area. Of course, you don’t need us to tell you how amazing Zion National Park is. But, if you need suggestions on what to see, check out this blog post.
Millard County – another filming location for John Carter was in Millard County, near the city of Delta. When visiting Delta, be sure to check out the nearby trilobite dig. It is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
Grand County – the last location was near the gateway town of Moab. Moab, Utah provides access to two major national parks, Arches National Park to the North, and Canyonlands National Park to the South. In recent decades, the name Moab has become almost synonymous with the idea of desert fun. The chief attractions are off-highway vehicle areas (where the sport of Jeeping was invented,) hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and backcountry exploration.
While Utah is no stranger to the film industry – providing location shooting for over 100 major films – we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch particularly liked how prominent the scenery was in John Carter. If you liked what you saw in the film, you’ll like it better in real-life. We invite you to come see Mars on Earth.