Continental Divide movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Continental Divide filmed?

1981

About Continental Divide

Continental Divide is a comedy-drama released in 1981 and directed by Michael Apted. It was written by Lawrence Kasdan and features Blair Brown and John Belushi. It is an American romance between two people from different backgrounds and lifestyles.

Ernie Souchak (John Belushi) is an investigative reporter with the Chicago Sun-Times. He is knee-deep in a land dealings case about a corrupt city council member. While he is on the case, he gets roughed up by two crooked cops who ensure Ernie is hospitalized for his investigations into the council members' dealings. To ensure Ernie's safety, his editor sends him out of town to the Rocky Mountains with a new assignment. The assignment is to interview Dr. Nell Porter (Blair Brown), a reclusive researcher on American bald eagles living in the Rockies for several years.

Ernie travels to the Rockies to meet Nell, but their first meeting does not go well. In fact, they are at odds with each other. After finding out why Ernie has come to meet her, Nell refuses to talk to him, even asking him to leave since she does not want to be part of an interview. She detests reporters and finds them crass and invasive. However, after figuring out how ill-equipped he is to stay in the wilderness, Nell takes pity on Ernie and invites him to stay with her. Ernie's guide will take another two weeks to return, so he reluctantly accepts the lifeline thrown to him.

Eventually, Ernie falls in love with Nell when he sees her indomitable character, strong will, and dedication. What follows is Ernie meeting with an accident and tumbling down a snowy slope, coming face to face with a cougar and getting mauled, and meeting an American football star.

Nell also falls in love with Ernie and even allows him the interview. They part ways, only to find each other again, rekindle their romance, and get married. However, is it a happily ever after, or will they be separated again?

City Locations

Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Washington State

Location Types

American, Apartment, Cabins, NatureScapes, House, Retro, Rustic, Banquet Halls, Industrial, Warehouse, Police, Restaurant

Location Styles

Americana, Bohemian, Cabin, Classic Car, Classic Truck, Dated, Hotel, Train, Mountain Huts, Rustic

Continental Divide Locations

The Continental Divide production team did a fantastic job with the various filming locations featured throughout the movie. All the filming is done in the US, with the backdrop of Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, and Washington State featuring prominently. Major landmarks and places of interest used in the filming of Continental Divide were Cedar Falls (for its historical importance), Glacier National Park (where Ernie takes a tumble), Colorado State Fairgrounds (interiors of the cabin), Amtrak Railroad Station (where Ernie says goodbye to Nell), and more.

The Chicago locations used in the film are also of interest since they are the easiest to get to. The Field Museum of National History in Chicago, where Nell lectures and the Sun-Times building where Ernie works for the Chicago Sun-Times (now the Trump International Hotel and Tower) are popular tourist attractions. The transitions to and fro of the movie with its wilderness and its urban locations, plus the trains, modes of transport, and various enroute sites, helped bring Continental Divide together.

The distance between the two main characters and the difference in opinions, mannerisms, and living styles were brought to stark contrast only because of the excellent filming locations shown in the movie.

Teaser: The Railroad Station in Chicago is the Ogilvie Transportation Center which was made to appear like an Amtrak Station.

Fun fact:

Continental Divide did alright at the box office and grossed $15 million with a $9 million budget.

Ernie meets Max scene in Continental Divide

Royal Gorge, Colorado

Ernie (John Belushi) chops wood outside Nell's (Blair Brown) cabin. As he is carrying the chopped logs inside, he is suddenly attacked by a wild man. The wild man lifts Ernie in the air, and Ernie screams, "Put me down! Put me down!" Suddenly Nell separates the men, pushing the wild man off, yelling, "Stop it! Are you crazy? You're acting like a wild animal!" The wild man, Max (Tony Ganois), tells her, "Gimme a break. I didn't kill the guy or nothing! How'd you expect me to feel?" When Ernie asks who the guy is, Nell says, "Max Bernbaum, Ernie Souchak."

Ernie is surprised and exclaims, "Max Bernbaum? The Brooklyn Behemoth Bernbaum? Three-time All-American Bernbaum? Number-one draft pick of the Washington Redskins Bernbaum? The defensive end? Who told the NFL to shove it up their defensive end? That Max Bernbaum?"

This impromptu surprise meeting between Max and Ernie is one of the best scenes in Continental Divide. Audiences see Ernie behave like a fan for the first time – he even asks for an autograph and knows all Max's stats! The film shoot location of this scene is a log cabin at the Royal Gorge in Colorado. Getting here is the fastest if you follow Co-115 S to Tunnel Dr in Canon City.

Ernie meets a cougar scene in Continental Divide

Colorado State Fairgrounds, 1001 Beulah Ave, Pueblo, CO

Ernie is alone in the cabin after his accident and is using a wooden stick for support to walk around. While he walks to the kitchen cupboards, a cougar enters the cabin through the open front door and growls at Ernie. He turns and exclaims, "Oh, Sh*t! How can I help you? We're entirely at your service. Uh, take anything you like. We got a shower and everything. You big pussycat." While Ernie continues talking to the cougar, the cougar is slowly getting annoyed and growling at him. Ernie realizes the cougar wants the piece of roast on the table and offers it. However, the cougar jumps on Ernie.

Nell is on her way back when she notices pieces of blood and roast in the snow outside. She runs in, screaming, "Ernie! Ernie!" Nell finds Ernie mauled and bleeding in the corner of the room.

Many Continental Divide action scenes, including the cougar one in the cabin's interior, are filmed at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo City, Colorado. No animals or birds were harmed during production, and the cast and crew followed all government protocols. Getting to the Fairgrounds is quickest if you catch bus number 6, hop off at the Prairie – Tulane stop, and walk for 2 – 3 minutes at a medium pace.

Catching the eagle poachers scene in Continental Divide

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Nell is eagle-spotting, and Ernie is smoking. Nell asks Ernie, "Have you ever quit before?" launching into a discussion about how Ernie should return to Chicago as a healthy man. While Ernie finished his last smoke, he started cribbing about withdrawal symptoms when they hear gunshots. Nell realizes it's poachers shooting at the American bald eagles. She picks up her stick and runs towards the poachers. She hits them with her stick, grabs their guns, and holds them hostage while saying, "On your stomachs! We're from the Department of Interior Game Protection. Shut up, Mr. Harris!!) taking their IDs.

Nell scares them, "You've just committed a felony punishable by two to ten years in the federal penitentiary."

Since parts of the film are in the wilderness, many of the Continental Divide locations are in mountainous regions. This scene is filmed at different places in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Like the film, fans can also visit and see the wide range of birds in the park. Remember, if you notice any poachers, alert the authorities immediately! Getting here is quickest if you catch US-36 W to Estes Park and Park Ln. Once you get there, you will have to continue the journey on foot to get to various locations inside the National Park.

Rolling down the mountain scene in Continental Divide

Glacier National Park, Montana

Ernie and Nell are walking over a snow-capped mountain when Nell tells Ernie, "Let me put a rope on you. And I don't want to hear about your cousin…." Ernie interrupts, "I have this cousin in the boy scouts…" before he can finish his statement, Ernie falls and tumbles down a snow-capped slope. Nell runs behind him, screaming, "Ernie! Ernie!" but he keeps tumbling down with all his hiking equipment flying around him.

He stops rolling over and comes to a standstill but doesn't move. Nell reaches him and says, "Lie still. Put your arms down. Do you feel broken anywhere? How's your head? How many of me do you see?"

While there are many funny scenes in Continental Divide, this one is the most comic, although it doesn't end in mirth. This scene was shot at a lower, less steep slope at Glacier National Park in Montana. While it may seem like the tumble was long, it was retakes that were merged. Glacier National Park does not allow cars inside, so you must park and hike or catch the cable car to view the panoramic scenery. Catch US-2 W, turn on MT-49 N, and drive up to 2 Medicine Rd.

Nell gives a lecture scene in Continental Divide

Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL

Ernie is debating whether to go inside and attend Nell's lecture. He finally gives in and rushes into the lecture seminar. He hears Nell speaking, "The problem now is really not hunters. The laws are adequate on that score. But these invisible killers, these pesticides and pollutants, are poisoning the fish they eat, the water they drink, the air they soar through."

The audience is enthralled by the video on the projector and Nell's soothing, modulated tone. Nell lectures, "It’s not easy protecting them, but we must. We have no choice. There are only 700 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states. In all, just 2000 American bald eagles. That all that remain." Ernie looks around and sees everyone staring at Nell. He's also staring at her with adoration.

This Continental Divide filming location is the prestigious Field Museum of Natural History. Fans of Continental Divide can view the world's largest Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Field Museum, book special viewing tours of the exhibits, see Egyptian Mummies, and more. Catch bus number 6, hop off at 1100 S Columbus (Pedestrian Underpass), and walk for approximately 10 minutes at a medium pace to reach the museum.

Marry Me scene in Continental Divide

Old Cedar Falls Train Depot, Rattlesnake Lake,17905 Cedar Falls Rd SE, North Bend, WA

Ernie and Nell see each other off at the Victor, Wyoming, train stop. Nell asks Ernie, "What are we going to do?" He says, "There's nothing we can do. This is where you belong." They kiss and say goodbye to each other. While walking towards opposite sides on the tracks, Ernie suddenly turns around and yells, "Nell! Nell! Run faster! I'm walking this last bit." Nell also runs back to him, asking, "What? We just said goodbye?"

Ernie says, "I know. Let's get married. Marry me! Be Mrs. Souchak. Come on." Nell says, "But how? You won’t stay here. I can't go with you." Ernie replies, "I don't care. I want to be with you."

This emotional Continental Divide film scene with the proposal was shot at the Old Cedar Falls Train Depot in Washington. The tracks remain, but the station house is now gone. However, since it is located at picturesque Rattlesnake Lake, fans have plenty of treks, short hikes, camping grounds, and activities at the lake. You can also click pictures 'a la Continental Divide' on the old train tracks. You can get here fastest via I-90 E to Exit 32. Once you exit, get onto Cedar Falls Rd SE to reach.

Conclusion

Continental Divide was a beautiful film about how two people from different walks of life can fall in love and try to make things work. While there are ups and downs, sacrifices made, extended absences, and yearning, you can try to make things work if you want to. Continental Divide was a bit of a surprise for audiences since it was produced by Amblin Entertainment, Steven Spielberg's production company.

All the filming locations of Continental Divide made the movie extremely believable, especially the scenes in the cabin with the cougar, the eagle poachers, and Max. The unexpected tumble down the mountain, spraining the back, getting hurt, and finding ways back all made the movie an extremely wholesome experience for viewers.

The realistic locations of the cabin's interiors, the snowy mountains, and scenes in Chicago with the old Sun-Times building and the Field Museum of Natural History also gave deeper depth to the storyline, character building, and plot sequences.