Where Was Dante’s Peak Filmed
Americana/Anywhere America, Hotel/Motel Style, Lake House
About Dante’s Peak
The movie, Dante’s Peak, was first released in theatres in 1997, written by Leslie Bohem and directed and produced by Roger Donaldson. The following guide on set locations will contain spoilers for the film. The film is a disaster thriller that starts by following volcanologist Harry Dalton and his fiancé/partner Marianne as they try to escape a volcano eruption going on in Columbia. During the escape, Marianne is killed by a piece of debris.
The movie then jumps to four years later and Harry will be investigating the area known as Dante’s Peak in Washington. He is being sent because of the seismic activity in the area. Harry meets the mayor of the area, Rachel Wando, and her two children when he first arrives, and they offer to take him in with them to visit Rachel’s ex-mother-in-law, who lives near the base of the dormant volcano.
The group explores the area and comes across two people who have been scalded and killed by hot springs water. They also see dead animals and squirrels, and Harry gets a USGS team to analyze the area. They do not find any sign of activity from the volcano, and Harry’s supervisor Dr. Paul Dreyfus does not see a reason to alert the town. Harry tries to convince the mayor otherwise, and while doing so gets close to her and her children.
After a while, the team is getting ready to leave, but sulfur dioxide is found in the water supply and other signs of volcanic activity show up quickly. The National Guard can’t get to the town until the next day, so Harry and the mayor alert the town of what is going on. There is a town meeting held at the high school, but an earthquake hits and the volcano starts its eruption.
Harry and Rachel go to find Rachel’s children and realize they went to their grandmother who lives near the volcano. All five of the characters use a boat to escape as the old woman’s house is consumed by the fire. Sulfuric acid starts to burn up the boat, but the group manages to make it to shore. As they use a truck to get down the mountain, the National Guard arrives to help the rest of the town. Harry ends up in a mine with the rest of the group he has been with, but they are presumed dead. However, Harry has managed to activate a distress signal and in a few days, they are rescued.
Dante’s Peak Locations
The filming for Dante’s Peak was done mainly in the town of Wallace, Idaho, Mount Saint Helens, Washington, and Los Angeles County, California. These locations provided the setting for the fictional town of Dante’s Peak and its dormant volcano. Much of the scenery surrounding the town was digitally added, but Wallace was the main filming location. At the end of the film, there is a shot of the destroyed town, which is actually a crater that can be found in Mount St Helens National Park in the state of Washington.
Wallace, Idaho is a stunning city used for the set of Dante’s Peak and it can still be visited today. This city is located in the Silver Valley. Many of the establishing shots of Dante’s Peak feature the landscape of Mount St Helens. The Baker Palm Springs, also found in the state of Washington, were used for some of the early scenery shots of the film. Locations in the cities of Santa Clarita and Aqua Dulce were also utilized for numerous scenes.
Marianne’s death scene in Dante’s Peak
Agua Dulce, California
One of the first scenes in Dante’s Peak shows the main character Harry as he and his fiance are escaping an erupting volcano. The two are volcanologists who analyze and examine them for a living. They manage to get to the truck, but Marianne is still killed when a piece of debris cuts through the top of the truck. During this scene, Harry is trying to urge his wife to leave so they can reach safety before it is too late, but Marianne is reluctant.
When Harry tells her that they need to leave immediately, Marianne’s response is, “Look at these readings, honey!” He tells her to forget about the readings and instructs the rest of their team to pack up and go.
As they are driving away in the truck Harry is telling his wife, “We're gonna get out. We're gonna get out. Don't worry,” but she is struck by the piece of rock and dies instantly.
The city used for filming this was Agua Dulce, California, and the more difficult shots were created in a studio. Most of the special effects and background for the opening scene were digitally added after filming.
Arriving scene in Dante’s Peak
Four years after the events that start the movie, Harry is sent to the fictional town of Dante’s Peak to examine the volcano near the town. Harry is not thrilled at the idea.
When on the phone with his boss Paul Dreyfus he says, “This is a joke right? Dante's Peak?”
When he first arrives in town he meets with the mayor, Rachel Wando. He also meets her kids, Lauren and Graham. Rachel tells Harry that it took them several years to get the town on its feet. He gets to know the family a little bit during this early scene in the Dante’s Peak movie. When Rachel asks why he doesn’t have a family, Harry explains that it has to do with his job.
“Well, for one thing: I move around a lot. Mexico, Alaska, South America, The Philippines, New Guinea, basically where there's a volcano with an attitude,” Harry tells her.
Around the same time, this is going on Karen from Money Magazine is naming the town the second most desirable place to live. Just like most of the scenes of the town, Wallace, Idaho was used as the location for this scene. Most of the movie was filmed on-site in this Idaho town.
Exploring the base of the volcano scene in Dante’s Peak
Baker Palm Springs, Washington
After Harry meets mayor Rachel and her family they invite him to go to the base of the volcano with them where Rachel’s former mother-in-law, Ruth, lives. The old woman is basically a hermit. The group explore the base and lake by the volcano and quickly notice dead trees and squirrels. They also come across two dead people in the hot springs, one of the first scenes depicting something dangerous going on in the movie. While establishing shots show Mount St. Helens in Washington, the hot springs used in this scene are also in Washington. Baker Palm Springs’ hot springs were used for the setting where the dead bodies are found.
Ruth quickly dismisses the dead squirrels, saying they are dropping dead all over the area. Later when Harry is bringing up this and other activity he recounts a story of how frogs are boiled alive.
“My 9th grade science teacher always said that if you put a frog in boiling hot water, it would jump out. But put it in cold water, and heat it up gradually, it would slowly boil to death,” Harry says.
When asked if that is his recipe for frog soup, Harry responds with, “It's my recipe for a disaster.”
Examining the crater scene in Dante’s Peak
Mount St. Helens, Washington
Despite trying to convince the mayor and other town officials to warn the townspeople, Harry’s efforts prove to be useless. Harry decides to go with his team member Terry to examine a crater in the volcano, hoping to find more evidence that something is wrong. However, a rockslide traps both of them and causes Terry to get a broken arm. This scene was filmed in Mount St Helens, Washington at the crater found in the national park. Just like many of the other locations used in Dante’s Peak, this crater can be seen today. The two men have to be rescued by a helicopter.
When in the hospital being treated for his injuries, Terry tells his other team member, Nancy, “The doctor said I can get out of the hospital as soon as they make sure that my head's ok.”
Nancy says, “Ok, see you in 10 years, then!”
After this action-packed scene, Harry starts trying to convince his boss Paul to put the entire town on alert, but he refuses. The following couple of days do not reveal any volcano activity.
Town meeting scene in Dante’s Peak
When Harry and his team are getting ready to leave, believing the volcano will not erupt, he goes to say goodbye to Rachel. However, while this is happening a lot of seismic activity is detected. This leads them to call a town hall meeting at the local high school. During this meeting, an earthquake hits and the volcano has its first eruption. One team member points out all of the activity suddenly showing up on the computer.
Nancy’s response is, “Why look at the computer when you can look at the real thing?”
The town panics when the earthquake hits and they rush out of the school, despite Harry calling for them to stay calm. Harry and Rachel go to get Lauren and Graham, only to find out they have gone to get Ruth who refused to leave her home.
The scenes of the town meeting were filmed on location in Wallace, Idaho, like many of the scenes in Dante’s Peak.
Fleeing in a motorboat scene in Dante’s Peak
Harry and Rachel manage to reach Ruth and the kids, but just as they do, both of their vehicles are consumed by lava. This leads the group to escape on a motorboat in the lake. However, the water is full of sulfuric acid from the volcano and begins to burn the boat. When they get close to shore Ruth jumps into the water and starts pushing the boat. In doing this, Ruth dies but ensures that the others reach the shore unharmed. On the shore the group finds a ranger truck to take down the mountain. Ruth comes with them but is dying from the acid burns in the water. Lauren offers her grandma a crystal.
Ruth tells Lauren, “Oh, ladybug, that's so nice, but you keep it for your luck, okay?”
Ruth apologizes to Rachel, and states her son was a fool for leaving them. The group is getting close to the ranger station, but Ruth doesn’t make it.
She dies after saying, “I get to stay on my mountain.”
Mirror Lake in Sagle, Idaho was used for the scenes of Ruth’s house and the lake around it.
Dante’s Peak is full of action scenes, with stunning locations used for filming that are still around today. Roger Donaldson directed this disaster thriller movie, and it was written by Leslie Bohem. Pierce Brosnan stars in the 1997 movie, alongside Linda Hamilton and Charles Hallahan. This film is considered a top disaster movie, even today.