Where Was Horizon: An American Saga Filmed?

Kevin Costner in Horizon An American Saga

The epic Western film series ‘Horizon: An American Saga’ is the magnum opus of actor and filmmaker Kevin Costner, who directed, produced, and co-wrote the movies in addition to starring as Hayes Ellison. The back-to-back released first two entries center around fictional characters and take place in pre- and post-Civil War, detailing the exploration of the American Midwest. Depicting a twelve-year span, the movies feature an ensemble cast portraying various characters and their experiences, which see them arriving in new territories away from home.

Horizon: An American Saga’ chronicles the trials and tribulations of settlers during a transformative period in history, touching upon themes of survival, exploration, and complex interactions with Indigenous peoples. The series has garnered attention not only for its historical narrative but also for its breathtaking visuals, making filming locations a subject of discussion among viewers.

Horizon: An American Saga Filming Locations

Filming of the first installment of Horizon: An American Saga began on August 29, 2022, in southern Utah and concluded in November 2022. Shooting of the second installment began in April 2023 and wrapped up in the summer of that year. The extensive production took place in the counties of Grand, San Juan, Emery, Kane, and Washington, as well as in cross-border forests, ridges, national parks, and waterfalls.

Costner, known for his passion for Westerns, returned to the genre with this ambitious project, echoing the scale of his earlier Western works, the acclaimed drama ‘Yellowstone’ and the Oscar-winning blockbuster ‘Dances with Wolves.’ Throwing his entire self into the task of making his dream project a reality, the actor is believed to have invested $38 million of his own money into the movie.

The Utah Film Commission estimated the makers to have spent more than $50 million — half of the entire budget — in the state alone, providing employment to the local community. Not a popular destination for filming, the first major film shot at Moab was the 1946 Western ‘My Darling Clementine,’ directed by John Ford, considered a pioneer in the genre. The epic narrative of Costner’s films spans 15 years of the Civil War era, which understandably required a wide range of locations across distinct climates.

Grand County, Utah

The city of Moab in Grand County was chosen as the primary destination to shoot ‘Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1’ mainly due to its red rock landscapes, which provide a striking backdrop and larger scale. The Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park is captured prominently in the film, thanks to the exquisite cinematography by J. Michael Muro. Delicate Arch, one of the most iconic landmarks in Arches National Park, also hosted the cast and crew members.

Snow Canyon State Park and the Shivwits Band of the Paiute Indian Reservation were also among the major sites featured in the period movie. When the production commenced in Moab during the summer of 2022, the temperature often soared to over 109°F, while toward the end of shooting in early winter, it dropped to a freezing 9°F, creating unending challenges for the cast and crew on both occasions.

The historic Star Hall at 159 East Center Street hosted hundreds of people who showed up for a casting call, hoping to participate in the film. Applicants, including those with horse riding skills, were evaluated for both speaking roles and extras before the costume department measured their physical and bodily features. Around the same time as ‘Horizon: An American Saga—Chapter 1,’ Grand County also hosted the production of the Hulu miniseries ‘A Murder at the End of the World.’

Washington County, Utah

Following the conclusion of the first segment in Moab, the production of ‘Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 2’ commenced with the entire team moving to Washington County, Utah. Filming started mid-April in the city of Saint George to record the sequel and several portions of the third entry, although the latter was cut short due to the SAG-AFTRA strikes and would resume the following summer.

Filming occurred in the northeasternmost part of the Mojave Desert and adjacent to the Pine Valley Mountains. Exploring the Greater Zion region, the location scouts traveled around the vast region ahead of the filming, locking the town of Springdale in their roster of places. The production also provided part-time jobs, internships, and hands-on experience for film students at Utah Tech University, offering local citizens opportunities to participate.

Notable projects shot in this area include ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ and the more recent ‘The Last Stop in Yuma County.’ The sales manager for The Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office, Joyce Kelly, praised the makers’ decision to seek their geographical needs in the area. He also highlighted the overall revenue and other benefits the movies brought along with them to Washington County.

Other Filming Locations in Utah

The state’s diverse landscapes and friendly atmosphere influenced Kevin Costner’s decision to film in Utah. The Utah Film Commission actively supported the production, and the large-scale filming of ‘Horizon: An American Saga’ brought significant economic and cultural benefits to the region. Though additional filming locations were spotted, the production team refrained from crossing the border and completed all their work within Utah.

Among the various other sites of the Beehive State that are seen in ‘Horizon: An American Saga’ are San Juan and Kane counties, along with Fishlake National Forest near Richfield City. Sulphur Creek waterfall and hiking trail around Fremont River in Capitol Reef National Park in Emery County gave the crew some of the most crucial sequences. The Jessop Ranch at Canyon Point in Kane County was another notable place the team did not miss out on capturing.

Read More: Is Horizon: An American Saga Based on a True Story?