Where was Broken Arrow filmed?
Utah; Montana; California
Classic Truck, Desert, Truck Style,
About Broken Arrow
Released in 1996, Broken Arrow is an action thriller film written by Graham Yost and directed by John Woo. It stars John Travolta as Major Vic Deakins and Christian Slater as Captain Riley Hale. They are pilots in the U.S. Air Force assigned to a test flight mission with two live nuclear weapons. However, major Deakins has other plans that lead them to play a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
Whether you need a refresher or have been pining for an action film of the late 90s, Broken Arrow is a great movie to watch. If you haven’t seen it yet, this guide covers a few scenes (spoiler alert!) and Broken Arrow locations you might want to visit.
The movie opens with a sparring match between Deakins and Hale, with Deakins coaching Hale on how to properly dodge an opponent’s punches. Then they are assigned to an evening training mission with a B-3 stealth bomber carrying two large nuclear bombs on board. Things are going well during their flight exercise over Utah until Deakins tries to kill his co-pilot and crash the bomber.
After evading Air Force radar, Deakins distracts Hale and tries to shoot him. A struggle ensues on board, but major Deakins successfully ejects Hale from the plane and releases the bombs without detonating them. Then Deakins parachutes off the plane, crashing it in the Utah desert.
When the search and rescue team arrives at the scene, they find no warheads in the wreckage. They report it a “Broken Arrow,” which describes a situation involving the loss of nuclear weapons.
Everything is part of Major Deakins’ plan. With his partner Emmit Kelly (Howie Long), he steals the two nukes and uses them to blackmail the government. But much to his disappointment, Hale is alive and determined to stop him with the help of park ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis).
Broken Arrow Locations
The movie was mostly shot on location instead of in a studio, making the Broken Arrow action scenes more dynamic and realistic. It includes a series of fight and chase scenes involving helicopters, police cars, and trucks. That’s why it’s vital for the Broken Arrow production team to find the ideal setting where they can freely shoot those critical sequences.
No wonder filmmakers picked the landlocked states of Utah and Arizona as the primary Broken Arrow filming locations. Other areas in Southern California and Montana were also featured in the movie.
Principal photography started on April 1995, with some scenes filmed in and around Kane County’s Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Spanning more than 1.25 million acres, Glen Canyon offers scenic vistas, golden cliffs, and plenty of backcountry and water-based activities. Visitors can walk around the area, see the wildflowers in the desert, swim in the lake, hike, and more. The neighboring Marble Canyon and Lake Powell were also used as filming locations for Broken Arrow.
Some sources also reveal that several train cars were dispatched on location in Lewiston, a city in Montana. Broken Arrow production photography was finally completed in August 1995.
The character of Howie Long in the movie was actually supposed to be killed off much earlier, but the Fox executives liked his performance. In the end, his role was expanded, so he remained in the entire movie.
The lake scene in Broken Arrow
Lake Powell, UT
Do you remember the scene when Hale and Terry end up at the lake while escaping the mine with a nuclear bomb that’s about to explode? Still in shock, Terry says, “We set off a nuclear bomb,” after the reality of the event sets in. “It’s OK. The walls shielded the blast. None of the radiation leaked out,” Hale states, trying to comfort her.
This scene was shot on location at Lake Powell in Utah. It is part of the Colorado River, with almost two thousand miles of shoreline and warm water. It also offers some of the west area’s most gorgeous natural sceneries, where you can relax, play, and enjoy. You’ll also see an aerial shot of the lake in the movie, showing the picture-perfect landscape surrounding it.
There are many ways to take full advantage of your experience at Lake Powell. You can join the exciting boat tours and learn about the lake’s geology and history. You can also rent a personal watercraft or a powerboat and feel the adrenaline of being on the water while enjoying the sunset. Alternatively, you can try cliff jumping on a boat if you’re looking for more heart-pumping adventures.
Lake Powell stretches from northern Arizona to southern Utah, and there’s no direct bus or train to the area, like most places in the middle of the desert. You can fly from Phoenix and Las Vegas and rent a car or use the shuttle service. But most visitors choose to drive to the lake and bring sleeping bags, food, fishing gear, and other essentials for the trip.
Railway scenes in Broken Arrow
Central Montana Rail, Inc., 100 Railroad Ave, Denton, MT
Broken Arrow has a lot of epic fight scenes involving different vehicles, from police cars and trucks to helicopters. But the final climax sequence features a train, where a fight between Deakins with his men and Hale with the military ensues. Several dangerous sequences were also shot here, including explosions, gunfires, and high falls.
Featured in the action scenes and several exhilarating escapades aboard a train is the Central Montana Rail, Inc. It’s a privately-owned short-line railroad that operates in Fergus, Chouteau, and Judith Basin Counties in Montana. The cast and crew spent six weeks in the summer of 1995 shooting the train sequences on the Central Montana Railroad using its cars and engines.
Its main line extends about 84.2 miles between Geraldine and Moccasin towns and links with the BNSF rail at Moccasin. It no longer serves traffic, but it’s still one of the biggest wooden structures of its kind today. The best way to get there is by car, allowing you to explore the railway and marvel at the idyllic scenery.
The chasing scene in Broken Arrow
Mojave Desert, Barstow, CA
Sure, there are many chasing scenes in Broken Arrow. But think of the sequence where Deakins and his men are chasing Terry and Hale, who hijacks the Humvee carrying the nuclear weapons. Eventually, the duo escapes to a copper mine after setting Deakin’s truck on fire.
Many desert sequences in the movie were shot in the Mojave Desert in Barstow, California. It’s the smallest of the four major deserts in North America. The entire desert covers portions of western Arizona, southeastern California, and southern Nevada. It has a warm-temperate climate, which is opposite to the Sonoran Desert’s subtropical climate or the Great Basin’s cold-temperate climate.
The Mojave Desert may not seem to be the ideal holiday destination due to its vast expanse of sand. But every desert traveler is sure to enjoy the area’s stark loneliness and weather that adds to its charm. The best way to get here is by car, so you can either rent or drive your own. You can drive to the Mojave Desert from Las Vegas for about an hour and a half.
Broken Arrow is an action-packed movie of the late 1990s that will keep its audience at the edge of their seat. It has John Travolta nailing the role of a bad guy and Christian Slater on one screen. But more than its legendary cast, it will take you to some of the deserts and natural treasures that Arizona and Utah are most proud of.
It includes the Marble Canyon and Lees Ferry in Arizona and Utah’s Glen Canyon National Recreational Area and Lake Powell. Montana and California, including the Mojave Desert in southeastern California, are also significant Broken Arrow filming locations that help set the tone and mood of the story.
See for yourself where your favorite scenes from the movie were filmed. You can join a guided tour or travel on your own, discovering the film sites and marveling at the picturesque scenery. Make sure to bring your camera, as plenty of photo opportunities await you there.