Science Fiction in the Intermountian West

The Intermountain West region has long had a connection with cinema, especially that of science fiction. From alien planets to mysterious military bases to the stomping grounds of radioactive monsters, the Intermountain West’s varied landscapes have been used as the backdrop to a multitude of sci-fi hits. Through examining both the sites and films themselves, an understanding can be gleaned as to why each setting was chosen to represent each film’s world.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Devils Tower, Wyoming

Devils Tower, located in Crook County, Wyoming, was the first natural formation in the United States to be declared a national monument in 1906. Part of the Black Hills mountain range, the monolith was formed from cooled magma exposed through erosion…

Starship Troopers and Hell’s Half Acre, Wyoming

Hell’s Half Acre is located in Natrona County, Wyoming, and is a 320-acre park characterized by its jagged formations and caves. Native peoples of the past used the region for the herding and slaughtering of buffalo by utilizing its many narrow…

2001: A Space Odyssey and Monument Valley, Arizona

Monument Valley is a series of sandstone structures located on the Arizona-Utah border region of the Colorado Plateau. The area is defined by multiple sandstone monoliths, the tallest of which reaches one thousand feet in height. The formation is…

Independence Day and Wendover Air Force Base, Utah

Wendover Air Force Base, currently Wendover Airport, is in Tooele County, Utah, on the Nevada-Utah border. Constructed in 1940 by the Army Air Corps, the airbase was used by both the Air Corps and its successor, the U.S. Air Force, until 1965. While…

Planet of the Apes and Glen Canyon, Arizona

Glen Canyon is located in northern Arizona’s Vermilion Cliffs National Park. The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area encompasses 1.25 million acres of land spread across both Arizona and Utah. After the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1966,…