Born To Be Wild movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Born To Be Wild filmed?


City Locations

Rainier, Thurston County, Washington and Seattle, King County, Washington and Jenner, Sonoma County, California

Location Types

Highway, Animal Facility, House, NatureScapes, Ranch

Location Styles

Americana/Anywhere America, Beachfront, Exotic/Tropical, Van/Bus/RV Style

About Born To Be Wild

This is a coming-of-age story with a message but a rather unique twist. This all plays out in a true comedy that tells the story of turning your life around, and also the love for animals. Rick is a troubled boy, a juvenile delinquent who gets himself into a whole heap of trouble over time. His mother, Margaret, is very troubled by his behavior and knows that something needs to be done.

Margaret has seen him get into trouble for the last time, and so she decides to take matters into her own hands. She decides on a rather unconventional punishment in hopes that this will help him learn his lesson. She puts him in charge of cleaning out the cage of a gorilla named Katie. He hates the job of course, but it becomes quite interesting as Katie is being taught to use sign language to communicate.

Katie is taken away for another life, and it is then that Rick realizes that he actually cares for and loves the gorilla. This takes him on a cross-country adventure to try to rescue Katie and find her a new home. The story unfolds and has many twists and turns, but it is a story about a troubled child turning his life around and how his love for an animal changes who he is. It is a very interesting journey indeed!

Born To Be Wild Locations

The 1995 Born To Be Wild film production was directed by John Gray and produced by Robert Newmyer and Jeffrey Silver. It was filmed over several months in different cities in Washington and California. Some of these Born To Be Wild locations include Rainier in Thurston County, Washington, and Seattle in King County, Washington as well as Jenner in Sonoma County, California.

We have tracked down several film shoot scenes that you can actually visit. However, if you have not watched the film but plan on doing so, beware! There are spoilers in these individual scenes as well as in the introduction and conclusion.

Ricks’ ultimate punishment scene in Born To Be Wild

Rainier, WA

We will see later on that this doesn’t end up being a huge punishment. However, it is at the pivotal point of the movie that Rick has been in so much trouble that his mom has had it. He is a juvenile delinquent, and she just isn’t sure what to do anymore. Try as she might, she can’t seem to keep him out of trouble anymore. She knows that it’s time for some more extreme punishment somehow.

In one of the best scenes in Born To Be Wild, this is where she comes up with the idea of having Rick clean Katie’s cage. Could she really do this? She lays out the punishment that he will spend two hours each day cleaning up after the gorilla. This does not come as good news to Rick, to which he says “There’s gotta be a law or something against this.” This is the beginning of the end, or so Rick thinks—but this is where the movie takes a very interesting turn.

There are times along the way when Katie drives Rick crazy. In all reality, she is a gorilla trying to make her way in the world, and that can be tough sometimes. Though Rick has been pushed to the limit, he has also grown very connected to this gorilla. He has turned his life around and shown compassion for this animal and sees that she needs to be free.

This filming location of Born To Be Wild takes place in a different area of Rainier, Washington. Known for its namesake mountain, Mount Rainier, as well as lots of green spaces. In fact, this lovely city boasts eight acres of public parkland. With a small population of just over 2,300 people, small-town life can be felt wherever you go. To reach Rainier, you can take Highway 507 from just about anywhere.

Man vs. gorilla scene in Born To Be Wild

Seattle, WA

This is an unlikely pairing between Katie and Rick. It feels like it’s a rough start, particularly because Rick doesn’t even want to be there. He has no idea that there is a wonderful relationship that could lie ahead. He doesn’t realize that the two will get to be good friends and enjoy each other’s company, nor that they will come to really communicate with each other in an effective way.

Early on it was rough for everyone, particularly since spending time with Katie and cleaning up after her was a true punishment. As Rick evaluates the situation with sheer frustration, he yells out “I can’t believe I’m wrestling a gorilla for my dinner.” He feels that he’s in a useless and very frustrating situation that he can’t get out of. Though it will get better, right now there are a lot of negative feelings.

He really starts to realize the extent of this when he says the very pivotal statement, “She thinks. She feels things. I mean if we don’t help her, who will?!” He wants the best for her, and that’s why he has set out on this adventure. He doesn’t want her to be kept captive, and he wants others to see this. He has surprised even his own mother with the true compassion that he has shown, and this is where the true connection of the story has taken place.

Many of the Born To Be Wild locations are filmed in Seattle, Washington. This is a large city on Puget Sound with thousands of acres of green space and parks. It is also home to the iconic Space Needle, standing 605 feet in the air with a viewing deck for some great views. It is a major city with various transportation options. By vehicle, you can take Interstate 90 to Interstate 5 or Highway 99.

The chase continues scene in Born To Be Wild

Goat Rock Beach, Sonoma Coast State Park, 3095 CA-1, Bodega Bay, CA

This is not going to be an easy task for Rick or Katie for that matter. They are in a full-speed chase and aren’t making any friends along the way. Though Rick is only trying to set Katie free and find her a new home, it is not coming across the right way. This has turned into a battle, though there are some rather enjoyable scenes to watch unfold. We sometimes forget as the audience that this is a gorilla that we are dealing with.

As the chase continues, now the police are involved. They are now being chased by a police car, which only makes matters worse. Now we find ourselves at the point in the movie where Katie is learning to run so that she can be free. As Katie follows Rick over the fence and she masters it, he yells “Hey that was pretty good. You guys are getting a lot faster.”

The journey to set Katie free has not been an easy one, that’s for sure. Though Rick’s intentions are good, and he is trying to do what’s best for this gorilla, not everybody sees it that way. Not only that but seeing the sheer size of Katie alone is rather intimidating or concerning to some people. This is the very situation that presents itself when Rick and Katie find themselves face-to-face with a farmer as they are on his property.

This is one of the funny scenes in Born To Be Wild that makes audiences laugh out loud. The antics of both Katie and Rick are hilarious as they outrun the old man. You can find this film shoot location at Goat Rock Beach in Jenner, California. It is located in the Sonoma Coast State Park about 25 miles east of Santa Rosa. You can reach this lovely park by taking Highway 116 to Highway 1, the Coast Highway.


This is such a unique and fun movie that stands the test of time. Though the concept isn’t new of a kid overcoming the odds, the plot and the way that the story unfolds is. This was one of the early films that used animatronics to portray Katie the gorilla. Though it seems outdated now, it was a very interesting storyline at the time.

This is a wonderful story to see how a teen can overcome a troubled past. It is also a great story to talk to how a true connection can unfold between a human and an animal. The journey that they take to find Katie a home and set her free is heartwarming and well worth the watch. You can really get a feel for what this boy goes through, and though the ending is a bit unexpected in some ways, it is certainly a memorable story.