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Blog Films Shot In Yosemite and Madera County
Alex Silgalis | 12/18/2020Entertainment/Theater, Family Friendly |   

Pop some popcorn. Grab your favorite pajamas. Throw on a pair of fuzzy slippers. But most of all get comfy. With travel restrictions in place, we thought why not share an opportunity to see Yosemite and the surrounding region from the comforts of your own home.

The Great Outdoors

Our personal favorite since we were kids is the Dan Aykroyd and John Candy film “The Great Outdoors.” Although it’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, most of the outdoor shots were filmed on the legendary waters of Bass Lake and surrounding area. A perfect pick for family movie night. And there are more Bass Lake movies to recommend as well - check out this piece for more movie ideas to make your own Bass Lake Movie Marathon.


If you love a fun western comedy, Maverick is right up your alley. The film is about Bret Maverick, played by Mel Gibson, who needs money for a poker tournament & faces various comic mishaps and challenges all across the western US. Filmed in various locations including the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, Lake Powell in Arizona, and the Grand Canyon National Park (just to name a very few), it is the scenes shot in Yosemite, both at Washburn Point and Leidig Meadow that catch our eye. 

Small Soldiers

Directed by the same man who brought you Gremlins, this hidden gem pits sentient AI toys against each other; the Commando Elite soldiers lead by the rough and tough Chip Hazard (voiced by the equally rough and tough Tommy Lee Jones) versus the largely peaceful alien Gorgonites, led by Archer (voiced by acclaimed stage and film actor Frank Langella). In this tale of misused military technology gone awry, none of the toys realize that they are in fact... toys.  The conflict to them, and the surrounding humans, is real.  When the battles are all said and done (and spoiler the Commando Elite are defeated) the Gorgonites continue their quest of trying to find their home world Gorgon which they mistakenly believe is in Yosemite Valley. With those views, who wouldn’t want their home planet to look like... or be... Yosemite? 

One interesting bit of trivia, many of the Commando Elite characters were voiced by the cast of famous 1967 military film, The Dirty Dozen, including George Kennedy, Ernest Borgnine.


Horror fans, you’ll LOVE this one! The film Gallows is another film that’s supposedly set in the Midwest, but actually filmed in California's Central Valley. A freak accident of a student being hung via a noose in a high school production of “The Gallows” conjures an evil spirit. Two decades later upon a revival of the play, students get caught in the auditorium with no way out. Some of the high school scenes were filmed in the Madera High School itself.

The Dawn Wall

If there’s one movie everyone should see on this list, it’s the Dawn Wall. The documentary delves into the world’s hardest rock climb and the life of Tommy Caldwell. Through the film it explores Caldwell’s inspiration that led to the seven-year project of summiting the climb of climbs known as the Dawn Wall. For more history of the rock climbing accomplishments in Yosemite, be sure to read our article: A Brief Look Into the Early Climbing Feats In Yosemite.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Hop into your time machine a few centuries later and see Captain James T. Kirk attempt to climb El Capitan free solo (which Spock illogically misidentifies as free climbing...). When Spock distracts him during the climb, he misses a hand hold and falls thousands of feet down to the valley below. Luckily, Spock catches him before he has an all-too-close encounter with the granite valley floor.  

From horror films to slapstick comedy, Yosemite and Madera County have set the perfect stage for Hollywood Magic. For more fun movie ideas, be sure to check out our Bass Lake Movie Marathon page as well.


Like what you see? Save any of these pins (or possibly all of them) to your travel planning board(s) to give you an easy way to find your way back here!  Also check out our other blog posts as well as itineraries for more ideas and pins!

Alex Silgalis

Alex founded localfreshies.com® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

Our annual Visit Yosemite | Madera County Visitors Guide can answer all your questions about visiting California's Gateway to Yosemite. From the park itself to the museums, wineries, art galleries and more throughout Madera County, our guide can help you plan the perfect vacation. Please note that we mail to the USA only, but anyone can download the guide.
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