Where They Film: Kanab, Utah

Scenic Kanab, Utah

Location of hundreds of movies and TV shows, this small town with big scenery has earned the titles Little Hollywood and Dog Town.

Kanab, Utah is a beautiful region 6 miles north of the Arizona border. Known for dramatic red-rock bluffs, deep canyons and beautiful rivers, it's easy to see why Hollywood showed up in 1924, and hasn't left.

Kanab calls itself "Little Hollywood" because of hundreds of movies and TV shows were filmed in the area -- from Tom Mix in 1924 to The Lone Ranger in 1950s to Sergeants 3 (The Rat Pack goofs in the old west). Later productions include Maverick, The Flintstones, Broken Arrow, The Six Million Dollar Man, and both the 1968 and 2001 versions of Planet Of The Apes. See this partial list: http://frontiermovietown.com/moviesmadehere.html

Kanab is also home to world-renowned Best Friends Animal Society, as seen in the TV series Dog Town. If you're an animal lover, it's worth a trip to Kanab to visit (and perhaps volunteer at) this amazing place..

That said, a journey to Kanab can feel like a trip to nowhere. It's far from freeways or major towns, tucked in the bottom of Utah just north of the Arizona border. I drove to Kanab by departing I-15 at St. George, Utah. After Kanab I went north to Bryce Canyon National Park (wow!) and ended up at Moab (Arches National Monument). In fact, Kanab can be "on the way" to Grand Canyon's spectacular but lightly visited north rim, Lake Powell, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches, Mesa Verde and plenty more amazing places. If you want to see some of the most gorgeous scenery anywhere, Kanab and all of southern Utah/northern Arizona should be on your "must visit" list.

Here are some Kanab area photos to give you an idea of the Little Hollywood sites you can see.

Kanab Canyon barn set of 1973 Disney film One Little Indian

In Utah's dramatic Kanab Canyon (you won't stop taking photos), this barn was built as a set for 1973 Disney film "One Little Indian" starring James Garner, Vera Miles and Jodie Foster. It is now just up the road from Best Friends Animal Society.

Parry Lodge, hangout of The Rat Pack in Kanab, Utah.

Imagine The Rat Pack arriving in Kanab in 1962 to film "Sergeants 3", and discovering the best place in town, Parry Lodge, lacked a swimming pool. How could Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr, plus Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, Ruta Lee, Henry Silva, and other pals, work hard in the Utah sun, then relax and party without a pool? So Sinatra's gang paid to have a pool installed at Parry Lodge, pronto. I wonder how Kanab's prominent Mormon community handled such periodic Hollywood invasions?

Clint Eastwood rides into the homestead in film The Outlaw Josey Wales

Local folks have collected some of the sets into Frontier Movie Town. It's free to visit; they hope you'll buy something in their large shop of western souvenirs, gifts and cowboy garb. One set is from Clint Eastwood's 1976 film The Outlaw Josey Wales. Here's a shot from the film.

The Outlaw Josey Wales set, now showing at Frontier Movie Town in Kanab, Utah

Here's the same set from The Outlaw Josey Wales, now showing at Frontier Movie Town in Kanab, Utah. 

Inside of Homestead set of film The Outlaw Josey Wale, now at Fronter Movie Town in Kanab

Here's the interior of the Homestead set seen in 1976 film The Outlaw Josey Wales. Don't make a false move -- that's Clint Eastwood still hanging out.

Ambush Pass in Kanab Canyon, Utah

Stick 'em up! This dramatic spot in Kanab Canyon is known as Ambush Pass, a popular place to film hold-ups and other shoot-em-ups in Utah's Little Hollywood. Today,the dirt road provides access to Best Friends Animal Society.

Abandoned set of Gunsmoke TV series.

Here's a sad site -- an abandoned set near Kanab, Utah. This town and a variety of other buildings were built in the 1960s for TV series Gunsmoke. In color episodes, watch for the unique red cliffs of Kanab as Matt Dillon deals justice to the bad guys. The sets were also used by other TV and movie productions. But, apparently, not lately, so now they sit and decay. The sets are not even a tourist attraction -- on private property, unmarked, deep in Johnson Canyon several miles east of Kanab.

(Across its 20 year run, most of Gunsmoke was filmed at Los Angeles studios, and at Porter Ranch and Iverson Ranch in the L.A. hills. Unfortunately, these legendary film locations are now filled with golf courses and homes.)

While film sets come and go in Kanab, the area always has the rugged, expansive natural scenery that Hollywood made famous.