Happy 'Star Wars' Day: May the Fourth Be With You in Death Valley
Photo by Janeen Christoff
It’s true, “Star Wars” has its own holiday – May the Fourth Be With You– and those looking to celebrate can geek out in Death Valley National Park, where they will find accessible a number of filming locations used in “Star Wars” episodes IV and VI.
The sand dunes that R2-D2 rolled across are located at Mesquite Flats near the Stovepipe Wells village. The Sand People roam through Desolation Canyon and Jabba the Hutt’s palace can be found in Twenty Mule Team Canyon.
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You can easily spend a day roaming Golden Canyon and nearby Artist’s Drive and Badwater, which wasn’t used in any of the films but is the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. Golden Canyon is one of the valley’s best hiking spots. There are several long and short hikes that can be done from this point. If you are looking for “Star Wars” locales, take the main path up toward the Red Cathedral, a one-mile walk, and you’ll see the spot where R2-D2 and C-3PO roamed by its vanilla-colored walls.
Artist’s Drive is a short driving loop that takes you to Artist’s Palette where you will find not only vanilla-yellow sand but also green and pink and purple sand. It truly looks like something out of this world – and is the spot where Jawas carried off R2-D2. You can stop and hike around Artist’s Palette and it’s also a great spot for a pinic, if you are so inclined.
You can even stay in the same location that many of the actors and crew stayed when filming the movies if you book a room at Furnace Creek Resort. And the Oasis Gardens at the Furnace Creek Inn, a national historic property, were Mardji the elephant’s (aka Bantha) home during filming.
Right now is and ideal time to visit the park before it heats up during the summer months. Temperatures are hovering in the 90s, but mornings are still comfortable in the 70s and 80s for those who want to do some early exploring and evenings have similar temps and are the perfect time to take some excellent shots of the Mesquite Flat sand dunes.
For those interested in other movies and filming locations throughout the valley, Furnace Creek Resort has a map of Star Wars locations that you can pick up. Park rangers are also well-versed in finding and talking about all of the locales. And, the Furnace Creek Resort also offers a Star Wars section on its website.
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