Warning: Due to COVID 19 some information in this article (e.g. operating hours) may not be up-to-date.
If you’re planning a travel to California, and you also happen to be a Star Wars fan, you’re very lucky because you’re in the right state to visit some of the places that were the setting for some of the most memorable scenes of the original Star Wars trilogy.
The locations of Star Wars in California are also almost the only ones you can visit in the United States, since most of the movies were mostly filmed in other countries. If you decide to take this trip to a “galaxy far, far away”, you can also visit some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Golden State. So let’s begin and let the force be with you.
- Endor Filming Location: Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park
- Star Wars in Death Valley National Park
- Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area
- Other Places Related to Star Wars in California
- Lucasfilm Headquarters
- Hollywood Walk of Fame
- Star Wars in Disneyland
- Star Wars in Legoland
Endor Filming Location: Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park
Welcome to the Woods of the moon of Endor, also known as the Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park area, home of the Ewoks and the scene of the empire’s final defeat.
In fact, many of the scenes used in the film were shot on the private property of a lumber company, the Miller-Rellim Redwood Company near Smith River, which, in addition to not being open to visitors, has not retained its original appearance. You can try to relive the atmosphere of the film by walking along park trails, more precisely in Cheatham Grove, where the scenes of the chase on the speeder bikes were filmed.
Cheatham Grove is easily accessible as it is located near Highway 36, which runs parallel to the Van Duzen River. There is a short trail that leads into the woods that begins in a small parking lot.
If you are in this area, I highly recommend that you drive through the Avenue of the Giants, a scenic road lined with impressive trees, and a visit to the most famous Redwood National and State Parks where you can keep walking along the trails as if you were on Endor with the Ewoks.
Star Wars in Death Valley National Park
Although most of the scenes set on the planet Tatooine were shot in Tunisia, some sequences were set in Death Valley. The places that Star Wars fans will recognize are:
- The Artist’s Palette: Once you park your car, you will have to climb a small hill right next to the parking lot, where you will look over the area used for the scene where R2-D2 crossed a canyon alone. Also in this area, if you head to a promontory south of the parking lot, you will find yourself in the place where R2-D2 is taken onto the Sandcrawler (although in this case there is no unanimous agreement among fans).
- Twenty Mule Team Canyon was used as a location in Return of the Jedi when C-3PO and R2-D2 try to reach Jabba the Hutt‘s palace.
- The argument between R2-D2 and C-3PO on which direction to take once they landed on Tatooine took place in Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and its hills in the background.
- The gorges of the scenic Golden Canyon are where the Jawa are hiding while waiting for the right moment to capture R2-D2.
- From the scenic summit of Dante’s View, you can see the setting of Mos Eisley, which Obi-Wan, Luke and the droids observed from the top of a promontory. When you are on this spectacular plateau, I suggest you listen to this soundtrack.
But there is more to see in this national park besides Star Wars filming locations. You can discover all the secrets of Death Valley, the best viewpoints, and all the precautions to follow by reading our post devoted to Death Valley.
Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area
Some scenes from The Return of the Jedi were shot in California very close to Yuma, Arizona and the Mexican border. More precisely, they were filmed in Buttercup Valley (or Imperial Sand Dunes) within the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.
In the scenes filmed in this area, also known as Algodones Dunes, you see the great ship that belonged to Jabba the Hutt and the moment when Luke Skywalker was in danger of being thrown into the jaws of the Sarlacc that lives in the Great Pit of Carkoon.
It is basically an expanse of sand surrounded by dunes, which can only be reached by means of a suitable vehicle, such as a dune buggy, (this form of recreation is the main reason why this area is used), or on foot, but in this case, you will need a large supply of water, sunscreen, and the appropriate clothing. For this reason, visiting this area is usually not recommended. However, if you would like to visit this place, check out the official website of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
Other Places Related to Star Wars in California
In addition to the places we have described so far, California is also home to other attractions related to Star Wars. You may be wondering why the well-known Skywalker Ranch on the outskirts of San Francisco is missing from the list. Since it is neither possible to visit it nor to see it from the road, I think it would be almost pointless to go there.
We have already mentioned Lucasfilm’s headquarters in our article on Silicon Valley. It is located in San Francisco and even if it is impossible to go on a tour inside the building if you are in the area, it is at least worth it to take a picture with the statue of Yoda.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
As you walk on the well-known Hollywood Walk of Fame, you will, of course, find many “stars” who have been part of the Star Wars saga. If you are in the area, you should visit the Chinese Theatre where you will find the handprints and signatures of the protagonists of Star Wars.
Star Wars in Disneyland
After the acquisition of the Star Wars brand by Disney, Disneyland had the great idea to design an entire theme area dedicated to the “Galaxy Far,far away”. In 2019, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was inaugurated, which introduces Star Wars fans to a new planet called Batuu, designed specifically for Disneyland. For more information, read our article dedicated to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
In addition to Galaxy’s Edge, in Disneyland you will also find the following two attractions:
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue: Board a Starspeeder 1000 and head on an unforgettable journey through the galaxy.
- Star Wars Launch Bay: Here you will find exhibitions, an infinite array of Star Wars memorabilia on display, a replica of the Cellar of Mos Eisley and so much more.
You can find all the information you need by reading our article about Disneyland.
Star Wars in Legoland
An entire section of Legoland is dedicated to the world of Star Wars. As many as 1.5 million lego bricks have been used to recreate some of the most famous scenes of the Star Wars series (one for each episode).
Update: Unfortunately, this section of Legolandwas dismantled in January 2020.
Warning: Operating hours can change and closures for extraordinary events can occur, so we strongly suggest to check the venues official websites.