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Colorado might not have Hollywood’s stars or New Mexico’s tax incentives, but the Centennial State has used what God gave it (i.e., some of the most beautiful landscapes in the lower 48) to lure plenty of sets to its terrain. Here, we compiled seven movies in which Colorado features prominently—though not always as itself. It’s called acting, folks. So, secure your headscarves, slip into your ’66 Thunderbird, and look out ’cause our hair is comin’ down.
Blades of Glory
Ball Arena has been the backdrop of some historic sports moments over the years—most recently when the Denver Nuggets won their first NBA championship there this past June. But there’s been, objectively, no greater feat of athleticism executed in Ball Arena than when Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy teamed up to pull off the Iron Lotus. Back when Blades of Glory was filmed in 2007, the arena was still known as the Pepsi Center, and all of the comedy’s ice-skating competition scenes were filmed on location there. So next time you’re in the stands celebrating an impressive Avalanche goal, just remember that Chazz Michael Michaels walked so Cale Makar could run.
Dumb and Dumber
The Stanley Hotel is most widely associated with The Shining and for good reason: The spooky lodging helped inspire Stephen King’s book. But Stanley Kubrick’s movie adaptation of the horror novel actually used the exteriors of the Timberline Lodge in Oregon to stand in for the fictional Overlook. The Stanley did, however, get its time in the spotlight in the 1994 slapstick comedy Dumb and Dumber, when it played the Danbury Hotel—the ritzy spot from which Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne stage their ascent into Aspen society. We suggest renting a red Lambo for this leg of the trip to really look the part.
Perhaps no town in Colorado has embraced its cinematic history as enthusiastically as Ridgway, which served as the stand-in for Fort Smith, Arkansas, in this iconic John Wayne–led Western. The city has compiled an extensive list of stops for tourists to check out when visiting, including Town Park of Ridgway (where Hanging Judge Parker erected his gallows), a paddy wagon used in the film, and Katie’s Meadow (site of Rooster Cogburn’s epic charge).
The Hateful Eight
The action in Quentin Tarantino’s Western centers around a collection of unsavory types trapped in a cabin by a blizzard. So the famed director needed snow. He found it at the Schmid Family Ranch near Telluride, a picturesque 19th-century homestead in the shadow of Wilson Peak. Not that the crew seemed to enjoy the weather. “It was bitter cold,” Jennifer Jason Leigh told the Hollywood Reporter. “Do I get out of the stagecoach and walk to the tent where there’s a heater that’s a football field away? Or do I just sit in the snow?” The property continues to be a working ranch but also invites visitors in for the annual fall festival, weddings, and hunting season.
Thelma & Louise
If you find yourself in middle-of-nowhere western Colorado (maybe running from the law for a crime you had every right to commit), be sure to stop at the Bedrock Store. Thelma and Louise did. They didn’t have a choice: The building, constructed in 1882 using native stone, served as the only general store in a 30-mile radius. Although you won’t be able to go inside and have a heart-to-heart call with an FBI agent like Louise (the store has since closed), you can still score an Instagram-worthy photo in front of its quintessentially Western exterior.
National Lampoon’s Vacation
Two of the most hilarious highway scenes to appear on the silver screen feature in this movie—and both were filmed in Colorado. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Clark W. Griswold first makes eyes with the Ferrari-driving supermodel Christie Brinkley on U.S. 50 in Avondale, while Aunt Edna’s dog perishes on County Road 124 outside Hesperus, near Durango. We’d suggest you leave the pups at home for this pit stop; it could be an emotional stretch.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
If you’re treasure hunting for cinematic gold, there’s no better spot to dig than Antonito in the San Luis Valley. Not only does Indiana Jones’ boyhood home still stand there, but the owners have turned it into a bed-and-breakfast. Even if you can’t manage to snag one of the three guest rooms, you can still book a tour of the property on Sundays for a behind-the-scenes glimpse. Check out the nearby Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad during your visit to see where Indy wrestled the Cross of Coronado from the bad guys.