What Movies To Watch Before Traveling to Rustic Places in the United States
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What Movies To Watch Before Traveling to Rustic Places in the United States

Moviemakers often go to great lengths to give audiences stunning views of some of the world’s most interesting spots. Their hard work makes it easy for all of us to kick back in a chair and get a sneak peek of destinations before we travel. This includes many locations in the United States. Here are some movies that feature landscapes from the states and territories where Rustic students travel:


Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 & Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2008

The production crew hit the road to film a number of scenes in the first iconic movie in this series. The storyline has viewers believe the treasure hunting sequences take place in Peru, but they actually were filmed in Kauai, Hawaii. This includes the famous scene where Harrison Ford’s character has to outrun a boulder. The sequence was shot in and around the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge.

The crew returns to Hawaii for the 2008 movie – this time shooting near Hilo on the Big Island. The “Amazon” rainforest scenes take place here, along with some parts filmed at the foot of a waterfall.

Avatar 2009

This award-winning movie is the highest grossing movie filmed in the state. The tropical scenes of the planet Pandora were shot in the rainforests of the Hamakua Coast, Oahu, and Kauai. Portions also were filmed in the picturesque Keahua Arboretum in Wailua that is used as an outdoor classroom for the University of Hawaii.

Hunger Games: Catching Fire 2013

The second movie in this series was partially filmed in Oahu. The island provided the backdrops needed for the film’s Quarter Quell arena. Most of the 300-crew members who worked during the weeks they filmed were Hawaii-based employees. Locations shown include Kuilima Bay near Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s rugged north shore, the Manoa Falls trail, Heeia State Park, and Keehi Lagoon beach.

Jurassic Park Movies 1993 – 2022

The scenery in Hawaii was used extensively in these films. This includes some moments shot at the 4,000 acre Kualoa Ranch in Oahu, which also was used for the shows Lost & Hawaii Five-0, along with the movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Another easily recognizable spot is Manawaiopuna Falls in Kauai, which is now commonly referred to as Jurassic Park Falls. In addition, Halona Beach with its picturesque cove was used for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides.

Part of the first Jurassic Park also was filmed in the Dominican Republic. The famous mosquito frozen in amber is at the Amber Museum in Puerto Plata.

Puerto Rico

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2011

Hawaii is not the only state where this movie was filmed. The U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico also hosted production for two scenes. One was filmed in Fort San Cristobal in San Juan, showing a carriage arriving at King Ferdinand’s palace. A second scene was shot on Palominito Island, which is a small uninhabited island by Puerto Rico. It was used for a scene where the character Jack Sparrow leaves Angelica on a beach.

Captain America: Civil War 2016

This movie opens with scenes from Iceland, standing in for Siberia. The story progresses to Lagos, Nigeria, but the actual scenes were filmed in Puerto Rico’s financial district in San Juan. The rest of the film was shot in Atlanta, Georgia and in Berlin and Leipzig, Germany.

Goldeneye 1995

This James Bond movie was shot in several countries. The part of the story that is supposed to take place in the Cuban jungle actually was filmed in Vega Baja in Puerto Rico. Beach scenes also were shot in Puerto Rico at Playa Ojo de Agua. In addition, the portion of the movie with the hidden satellite telescope was shot at the famous Arecibo Telescope, which was one of the largest radio telescopes in the world. It was scheduled to be demolished due to safety concerns, but the telescope collapsed on its own in December 2020.


Into the Wild 2007

This movie was based on the nonfiction book by Jon Krakauer. It tells the story of Christopher McCandless who hiked across North America into the Alaskan wilderness in the early 1990s.

The film crew captured the beauty of Alaska but was not able to film in the remote location where McCandless spent his last days. They set up a shoot 50 miles south of the actual location. Other spots they filmed include Denali National Park and Anchorage.

The Big Miracle 2012

This movie starring Drew Barrymore focused on an international effort to rescue whales trapped under ice. Unlike other movies on this list, this film was shot entirely on location in Barrow, Anchorage, and Seward, Alaska. Filmmakers utilized Alaska’s only public aquarium and ocean wildlife rescue center –  the Alaska Sea Life Center – for some of the scenes. The crew also had to transform parts of Anchorage to look like Barrow when it became too cold to stay in that town.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country 1991

Filmmakers traveled to the Chugach State Park about 50 miles east of Anchorage to film scenes that take place at a Klingon penal colony featured in the story.  The film shows portions of the Knik Glacier. This ice field is more than 25 miles long, providing an other-worldly place for movie lovers and travelers alike.

These movies are just a few of the many productions that showcase the stunning landscapes of the world. Later we’ll have another blog on films that were shot in other countries Rustic students see during their travels. Stay tuned!


About the Author

Mary Rogelstad

Content Writer

Mary is a Content Writer at Rustic Pathways. She has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. Prior to covering student travel, Mary created content for the music education company J.W. Pepper & Son. She also was a writer and producer at CNN International and a communications director for a social service agency and a K-12 private school.