Director John Ford’s 1964 frontier epic ‘Cheyenne Autumn’ follows a band of Cheyenne Indians as they embark on a long and arduous journey. With no choice but to leave their barren reservation, the Native Indians head to their ancestral homelands. Unfortunately, they are confronted by the US Army, making their trials all the more precarious.
The film is based on the real-life Northern Cheyenne Exodus of 1878-79 but takes a significant amount of artistic license. Shot in the quintessential Western-style, ‘Cheyenne Autumn’ is a visual feast that makes the audience wonder about the grand locations which serve as its magnificent backdrop. To answer this burning question, let’s take a look at where the iconic movie was filmed.
Cheyenne Autumn Filming Locations
‘Cheyenne Autumn’ was filmed in various locations around Utah, California, Arizona, Wyoming, and Colorado. Much of the movie’s breathtaking backdrops were lensed in outdoor sites; however, the production team spent some time filming in the studio as well. Principal photography reportedly kicked off on September 23, 1963, and wrapped up on January 6, 1964. Here are more details about the locations used to bring the film to life.
The cast and crew recorded multiple scenes in and around the city of Moab in Grand County, Utah. The Fisher Towers Trail, located about 16 miles North East of Moab, appears in the movie. Furthermore, some scenes were lensed at the nearby Fisher Canyon and the Fisher Towers in Professor Valley. All the sequences featuring the Colorado River were filmed in Moab, and the White’s Ranch near Milepost 14 on the Utah highway was also utilized for production purposes.
Other Locations in Utah
Many sequences were taped at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park near the Arizona-Utah border and the Goulding’s Lodge at 1000 Gouldings Trading Post Road. Some parts of the Cheyennes’ travels were filmed at Park Avenue viewpoint in Arches National Park in Utah. Other locations that lend their breathtaking landscapes to the film include Castle Creek in Castle Valley and Mexican Hat, situated on the San Juan River in South-Central San Juan County.
Los Angeles County, California
The movie’s studio portions were lensed in California at the iconic Warner Brothers Burbank Studios on 4000 Warner Boulevard in the city of Burbank in Los Angeles County. The Dodge City sequence was taped on Midwest Street inside the studio compound, and Stages 6 and 9 of the production facility were used as well. Interestingly, a few scenes were reportedly recorded in the Encino neighborhood in Los Angeles.
Ventura County, California
Some on-location filming took place at Janss Conejo Ranch in the city of Thousand Oaks in Ventura County, the southernmost county along the California Central Coast. The ranch is a part of the giant Rancho El Conejo, a former 48,572 Spanish land grant that hosted the production of the popular Western series ‘Gunsmoke. Purchased by the Janss brothers in 1910, the Janss Conejo Ranch was initially used to raise thoroughbred race horses.
Locations in Arizona
‘Cheyenne Autumn’ uses Arizona’s characteristic landscape, and the shooting seemingly took place in the vast Sonoran Desert and parts of Monument Valley that fall in Arizona. Another iconic local aspect that appears in the movie is the historic Magma Arizona Railroad, and scenes depicting it were shot in Superior, a town in Pinal County. Finally, the crew also spent some time lensing in the town of Kayenta in Navajo County.
Fort Laramie, Wyoming
Wyoming was seemingly used to depict the US Army side of the narrative. For this, filming went underway at Fort Laramie National Historic Site at 965 Gray Rocks Road in Fort Laramie, a town in Goshen County. Incidentally, the fort was a military post during the western Indian Wars in the 1800s and was located south of the town across the North Platte River and at the mouth of the Laramie River.
Montrose County, Colorado
Colorado’s famous Gunnison National Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Montrose County also make appearances in the film; the lengthy production schedule included a visit here. The film crew seemingly shot a few scenes in the nearby town of Gunnison as well. Known for its diverse landscape comprising deserts, river canyons, and the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, Colorado has hosted many filming projects, such as ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ ‘The Shining,’ and ‘The Prestige.’
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