Another "Star Wars Canyon"
Over the past few weeks I've been blogging about the STAR WARS filming locations in Death Valley National Park. Including a couple of locations that aren't technically within the Park boundary, I've made this into a seven-part guide (eight, if you include this post).
- Outside The Park (Randsburg & El Mirage Lake)
- Mos Eisley Overlook (Dante's View)
- The Dune Sea (Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes)
- Artoo's Arroyo (Artist's Palette)
- The Sandpeople Attack (Desolation Canyon)
- The Jawas Hunt R2-D2 (Golden Canyon)
- On The Road To Jabba's Palace (Twenty Mule Team Road)
As I was writing these posts, I stumbled across another STAR WARS connection. There is a canyon just outside of Death Valley National Park in the Panamint Valley (the neighboring valley to the west). This canyon, like a certain canyon in Tunisia, has also been given the informal nickname of "Star Wars Canyon."
It's real name is Rainbow Canyon and it's located just northwest of Panamint Springs. Father Crowley Point is a scenic viewpoint on its southern rim, just off of HWY 190. From here, you can occasionally watch jet fighters from the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake scream through the canyon on training exercises. Apparently, this part of the flight path is known by the pilots as The JEDI Transition. I am unsure if "JEDI" is a military acronym or if it is a reference to the STAR WARS films. Perhaps it's both. Regardless, having seen this in person, I can tell you that it is completely thrilling to watch - although, it's really more TOP GUN than it is STAR WARS.
As mentioned above, Rainbow Canyon & Father Crowley Point can be found west of Death Valley National Park on HWY 190. If you are traveling from Death Valley, Father Crowley point is 64 miles from Furnace Creek and 39 miles from Stovepipe Wells. Alternately, it is 43 miles east of Lone Pine. See also: wikimapia | googlemaps
More and more when I come across webpages of those who have visited these places and others like them, I find myself reading declarative statements of fact.
"We were the first to visit..."
"I was the first to discover..."
"No one has ever found this spot before..."
I should like to point out that any such language on my own pages - that has somehow managed to slip past my own internal filters - merely refers to my own personal sense of discovery. I have no doubt what-so-ever that every location I have visited and and likely every shot I have matched up in Death Valley, Tunisia, and elsewhere, was likely done so by others long before me. This certainly pertains to those shots that I hadn't seen matched up prior to my visit(s) as well. The shots in filmed in Golden Canyon come to mind as does the matte painting location off of Twenty Mule Team Road.
STAR WARS has been around since May 1977 - and a little longer for those who were actually involved with its creation. It's not really a stretch of the imagination at all to think that these places have been visited before. The real stretch would be to believe that they haven't.
Having said that, it doesn't mean you can't hunt these places down for yourself. Even though they are fairly well known at this point, you can still experience your own personal sense of discovery (as I did). In fact, I encourage you to do so! Even without the connection to STAR WARS, Death Valley National Park is a fantastic place - and it's never been easier to visit. With the internet at your disposal, it's also never been easier to find specific information about the STAR WARS scenes that were shot there. In addition to my own entries listed at the top of this page, the following links have a lot to offer:
- http://starwarslocations.com/ - This website is run by my friend Bill Chirrick, with whom I had originally planned to visit Tunisia back in 1999. These days, the facebook page is more active than the website, though you can still find some helpful galleries there (such as Bill's).
- http://www.starwars.com/ - The official Star Wars website.
- http://starwars.wikia.com/ - Wookieepedia, the fan-created online encyclopedia of all things Star Wars.
- http://www.nps.gov/deva/index.htm - The official page for Death Valley National Park.
These books also have been extremely helpful:
And, of course, the movies are indispensable. Speaking of which, the latest one opens this evening and from what I'm hearing, "it's really, really good."