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10 Movies That Immortalize Colorado

Colorado Culture
by Jeanette Lamb Aug 2, 2017

Over the decades, Colorado has been the setting for some of the most memorable films ever produced. Here are 10 of our favorites:

1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

This classic was shot in a variety of locations, including Durango (then called Purgatory) Colorado. The Animas River served as the setting for the well-known scene between Paul Newman and Robert Redford. High above the river, “Sundance” (Redford) owns up to his fatal flaw, “I can’t swim.”

2. The Hateful Eight (2015)

Quentin Tarantino made this movie in the San Juan Mountain region, just south of Montrose. The characters find themselves trapped together while waiting for a blizzard to pass. This film exposes viewers to some of Colorado’s most attractive yet perilous beauty — and gives viewers images of To-hell-u-ride (Telluride), one of the most spectacular towns in the state.

3. True Grit (1969)

Playing the character of US Marshall Rooster Cogburn, John Wayne fights some of the most villainous criminal outlaws around. The courtroom scenes take place in the storybook towns of Ouray and Montrose.

4. Thelma & Louise (1991)

The most famous scenes of this groundbreaking film were shot in the high desert canyons along the Dolores River in Southwestern Colorado. Well into their mad dash to get away from the police, Susan Sarandon and Gina Davis make a pit stop at a Colorado location named “Getaway Bedrock.”

5. Every Which Way But Loose (1978)

Georgetown, Colorado is just down the road from Idaho Springs. Being there is like stepping backward in time, especially if you visit the annual Christmas Market. This small town was used as a location in Clint Eastwood’s comedy adventure Every Which Way But Loose, in which he plays Philo Beddoe, an oddball truck driver with a propensity for fistfights. One scene shot in Georgetown features a bar brawl in a real Georgetown bar (The Red Ram), which later became a regular hangout for the singer and songwriter, John Denver.

6. American Flyers (1985)

Before Kevin Costner was a household name, he played Marcus Sommers in this movie, a sports drama bicycle film which was shot on 103, a road which eventually climbs to Mount Evans. In the film, the route makes up part of the arduous race Sommers and his brother must face, known as “The Hell of the West.” You can definitely bike 103 — and multiple bike paths through Clear Creek County.

7. Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)

Angelina Jolie, in the movie, leaves LA to spend an afternoon rock climbing in Colorado. The director shot her climbing sequence in glorious Glenwood Canyon on Colorado’s western slope. Bordered by the Colorado River, the canyon winds travelers through a variety of geological vistas. Hanging Lake is a semi-well-known stop between Vail, CO and the town of Glenwood.

8. Starman (1984)

This John Carpenter film was shot just beyond Glenwood in Fruita, Colorado. Starman is a science-fiction film starring Jeff Bridges as the film’s feature character He is an alien who is visiting Earth in response to a request sent into space on a galactic vessel. There is agriculture along the Dolores River here. The mountainous landscape around this river valley is accented by otherworldly, wind-sculpted rock.

9. Things to do in Denver When You’re Dead (1995)

Things to do in Denver when You’re Dead stars Andy Garcia as a retired gangster known as “The Saint.” The most outstanding scene takes place at Union Station.

10. Downhill Racer (1969)

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The same year the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, was shot, Redford took on the role of an Idaho Springs native who’s a tremendously gifted and rebel downhill skier. The film opens with Redford walking the historic streets of Idaho Springs, which you can walk in the present.

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