Travel

Real life Westworld

Westworld fans, experience sun and sand in the American South-west this holiday season

For fans of HBO sci-fi Western series Westworld itching for Season 2, it is time to start planning a trip to the American South-west.

You are invited to enter the world of multi-coloured land of mountains, canyons and deserts, although unfortunately, no androids are included.

As Dr Robert Ford, played by Anthony Hopkins, says: "Its not a theme park, but an entire world."

In the late 1940s, legendary film-maker John Ford discovered the area's rugged beauty and filmed many Western movies there including Stagecoach (1939), which starred John Wayne in his first Western movie.

The towns Westworld is set in were inspired by those in the Ford movies.

Monument Valley in Arizona and Castle Valley in Utah, where many of the Western classics were filmed, were picked to be featured in Westworld because of their dramatic landscapes.

Westworld was also filmed on studio backlots in California, including the Paramount Ranch in Agoura, Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita Valley with permanent replicas depicting different towns used in other Western movies such as The Magnificent Seven and Django Unchained.

To help you travel easy and enjoy a fantastic holiday while visiting these spectacular national parks, Trafalgar has eight different itineraries that head out to the American South-west.

MOAB, UTAH

The dramatic eastern Utah landscapes around Moab feature prominently as the backdrop to the futuristic theme park.

From Moab, you can visit several of Utah's most diverse national parks, including Canyonlands National Park and the magnificent Arches National Park where weather has eroded the sandstone into more than 2,000 arches.

Head onto State Route 128 outside Arches National Park where you can recognise many of the landmarks in the show. In fact, one of the show's first scenes with Teddy (James Marsden) sitting inside a train heading towards the park was filmed on this highway.

To shoot the scenes, the train car was mounted on the back of a truck trailer and to capture the desert backdrop outside the windows, the truck was driven up and down the highway.

Did you know: Many dinosaurs have been found in Moab, such as a large camarasaurus and a brontosaurus from the Jurassic age.

CASTLE VALLEY, UTAH

Located between the Colorado River and La Sal Mountains, Castle Valley has the highest density of natural arches in the world, with peaks and red rock towers higher than 3,700m.

A quiet oasis away from the busy town of Moab, this is a small town of about 400 people, a great place to set base when visiting the nearby national parks.

To capture the epic scenic shots depicting the park, the cameramen floated down the Colorado River at times, and for some other scenes, helicopters were used to film aerial views.

Did you know: Ford filmed his last four movies in Castle Valley, around 24km north-east of Moab.

Inspired by Ford, director-writer of Westworld Jonathan Nolan said he picked Castle Valley as a key location because it was a beautiful place featuring geography that is "exquisitely exclusive in America".

MONUMENT VALLEY, ARIZONA

Situated between Utah and Arizona, this is one of six Navajo-owned tribal parks, and is a great place for you to get to know about Navajo culture and try their cuisine, including fry bread.

To get up close to the 305m-high sandstone clusters, you can explore the Monument Valley floor in an open-air vehicle. Best time to enjoy the breathtaking scenery is when the sun sets over the red cliffs.

The red mesas and buttes surrounded by vast sandy desert are the iconic backdrop for some of the horseback riding scenes with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Teddy.

Did you know: Other famous movies that have filmed here include Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014) and Forrest Gump (1994).

DEAD HORSE POINT 
STATE PARK, UTAH

Located on the edge of Canyonlands National Park and at the end of a mesa 610m above the Colorado River, the state park is a peninsula of rock atop sandstone cliffs featuring a dramatic view of the winding canyon.

The natural rock formations were created by the deposition of sediments by oceans, freshwater lakes, streams and wind over millions of years.

The mysterious section of the park where the maze is located and where the Man in Black (Ed Harris) scalps one of the hosts was filmed here.

Did you know: The final Grand Canyon scene of Thelma & Louise (1991) was filmed here.

Located near the park is the Poison Spider Dinosaur Trackway that leads to two rock slabs with footprints of carnivorous dinosaurs.

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