Moab and Southeastern Utah Feature

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Where the West Was Filmed

Were it not for Hollywood—with a little help from Harry Goulding—Monument Valley might have remained a quiet, hidden enclave of the Navajo Nation. Goulding urged John Ford to help bring the beauty of Monument Valley to the attention of the American public. Ford began in 1938 with his classic movie Stagecoach, and the film notoriety never ended. Ford subsequently filmed My Darling Clementine, War Party, and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon during the 1940s. Then came Billy the Kid, Kit Carson, Fort Apache, How the West Was Won, The Living Desert, The Searchers, and Cheyenne Autumn. And those were just the John Ford Westerns.

The area is as popular a film location today as it was in the 1940s and '50s, when Americans (and Hollywood) were just learning about it. Monument Valley is frequently seen as a backdrop for automobile and other commercials. Dozens more films have been shot in the area, including a few classics (and nonclassics): 2001: A Space Odyssey, Easy Rider, The Moviemakers, National Lampoon's Vacation, Back to the Future Part III, Forrest Gump, Pontiac Moon, Waiting to Exhale, and Windtalkers.

While many people associate Monument Valley with filmmaking or as a home to the Navajo Nation, others cannot think about the area without remembering Harry Goulding and his wife Mike, who established the trading post there in 1923. The Gouldings offered crucial trading services to the Navajos for more than half a century. Today Goulding's Trading Post is on the National Register of Historic Places, and still provides lodging, meals, and other services to tourists who visit the area.

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