Movies Filmed in the Royal Gorge Region
Spanning the landscape of the Royal Gorge Region are golden valleys, a mountainous skyline, and sheer cliffs found within the Royal Gorge. It is no wonder our local area has been featured in several movies and films of the past century. Since 1911, the Royal Gorge Region has set the stage for many films, including some scenes of the western icon, True Grit.
Each movie filmed in the area, including Fremont and Custer Counties, has its own story. Buckskin Joe, a Wild West-style theme park and railway, previously located 8 miles west of Cañon City, was the stage for many of these films.
In the 1972 production of Brother’s O’Toole, the filming was halted due to severe weather at Buckskin Joe. Colorado’s sometimes unpredictable weather brought in a major snowstorm that dumped 8 inches of fresh snow over the area, forcing the film makers to pause their shooting.
Cannibal! The Musical is another movie filmed at Buckskin Joe. Centered on the true story of one of Colorado’s oldest and most notorious survivalists – Alferd Packer, who in 1873 traveled the Colorado Mountains with a group of men in search of gold. But in the spring of 1874, Alferd returned alone. He was later brought to Denver and questioned by authorities regarding the missing men. Alferd eventually confessed that violence erupted between him and the others and, after acting in self-defense, he was left with no choice than to eat the bodies of the dead men to survive the winter.
Filming of Cannibal! The Musical took place in 1993, however the movie wasn’t ready for production until 1996. It featured Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the adult cartoon comedy South Park, among other acting stars.
More recently, the documentary Prison Valley was released in 2010. This film about the prison industry of Cañon City focuses on the Supermax prison, also known as Alcatraz of the Rockies, which is the most secure level of custody in the country’s prison system. The film was the 2010 winner of the Association for International Broadcasting Award.
Other producers are drawn by the Royal Gorge Region’s heavy presence of prisons. The Women of San Quentin was filmed at the Colorado Territorial Prison in 1983. No inmates were featured but more than 300 local individuals of the town were used as extras.
Local residents have been included many times in the Royal Gorge Region films. Another movie that included locals in production was Spittin’ Image by director Rusty Kern of Rocky Mountain Studios. This film staged scenes on Main Street in Cañon City and included 35 local people.
In 2021, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park was asked by Amazon Studios to promote the release of Coming 2 America by hanging a 120 x 75-foot flag from the Royal Gorge Bridge, 956 feet off the ground. It was the largest flag to have ever flown at the suspension bridge. The movie is a sequel to Coming to America, a 1988 film that shows the travels of Prince Akeem from Zamunda to New York.
More Movies Filmed in Colorado
Around 50 movies have filmed scenes in Fremont County alone, where the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is located. Take a look at the following movies and when they were filmed in our local area:
- 1926 – The Great K & A Train Robbery with Tom Mix.
- 1939 – Stage Coach directed by John Ford, starring John Wayne, Claire Trevor and Andy Devine.
- 1948 – Cañon City, about a 1947 prison break from the Colorado State Penitentiary featuring Roy Best, the real-life Warden, as himself. Also in the film was DeForest Kelly, later of Star Trek fame.
- 1953 – The Outcast with John Derek, Joan Evans and Slim Pickins.
- 1957 – Saddle the Wind with Robert Taylor, Julie London, Hugh O’Brien and John Cassavetes.
- 1964 – Cat Ballou with Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye.
- 1967 – In Cold Blood written by Truman Capote filmed at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility starring Robert Blake and John Forsythe.
- 1969 – True Grit directed by Henry Hathaway starring John Wayne.
- 1971 – The Cowboys with John Wayne and Slim Pickins.
- 1973 – Scarecrow with Gene Hackman, Al Pacino and Eileen Brennan.
- 1976 – The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox with Goldie Hawn and George Segal.
- 1977 – How the West Was Won TV mini-series with James Arness, Eva Marie Saint and Jack Elam.
- 1977 – The White Buffalo directed by J. Lee Thompson with Charles Bronson, Jack Warden, Kim Novak, Slim Pickens and John Carradine.
- 1979 – The Sacketts a made for TV movie written by Louis L’Amour with Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck, Glenn Ford, Jack Elam and Slim Pickens.
- 1981 – Continental Divide with John Belushi, Blair Brown and Allen Garfield.
- 1991 – Conagher a made for TV movie written by Louis L’Amour with Sam Elliot, Katharine Ross and Barry Corbin.
- 1994 – Lightning Jack with Paul Hogan and Cuba Gooding Jr.
- 2017 – Our Souls at Night with Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, and Judy Greer
The Royal Gorge Region is no stranger to the movie industry – or to western icon, John Wayne. As you look through movies from the early 1900s to more recent years, you are likely to find a stunning shot of the Royal Gorge Region.