Napoleon Dynamite movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Napoleon Dynamite filmed?

2004

About Napoleon Dynamite

Not everyone might have heard of Napoleon Dynamite, but fans of great comedy classics have most likely watched and enjoyed this film. In fact, it’s so popular and well-loved that an animated sitcom based on the movie with the same name was created eight years after the film’s first release. If you haven’t seen this 2004 indie comedy film and consider adding it to your watchlist, we’ve covered some iconic and funny scenes in Napoleon Dynamite (spoiler alert!) and several spots where it was filmed.

It follows the not-so-ordinary life of Napoleon as he navigates home and school life as a socially-awkward student. He’s a high school student from the rural town of Preston, Idaho, who lives with his over 30-year-old brother, Kip, and his grandmother. Kip is unemployed but aspires to become a cage fighter.

When his grandmother is injured, breaking her coccyx after an accident while riding an ATV at the sand dunes, his uncle Rico shows up to look after them until she recovers. Rico isn’t exactly a villain, but he is someone you can consider one of Napoleon’s primary enemies. He is arrogant, petty, manipulative, and rude.

At school, Napoleon is a social outcast but doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. He does his own thing, drawing mythical creatures, sitting alone at lunch, and often telling tales of magic and unbelievable stories. He wears large glasses, has a red afro, and doesn’t have a clue how to interact with people. Because of these, it isn’t easy to take him seriously.

Then he befriends two other awkward students: Pedro, a transfer student from Mexico, and Deb, a shy girl who does various side jobs to raise money for college. As Pedro decides to run for school president, he is pitted against Summer Wheatley, a popular yet egotistical girl at the school.

The main characters are the opposite of glamorous, which adds to its charm and humor. They may seem like dumb people doing dumb actions. But soon, you’ll realize their choices aren’t dumb after all.

City Locations

Franklin County, Idaho

Location Types

American, House, Retro, Ranch, Schools/Colleges, Buildings/Offices

Location Styles

Americana/Anywhere America, Desert, School, Ranch Style

Napoleon Dynamite Locations

This cult comedy film sticks to its movie setting, so they chose to film on location around the town based on the narrative. It’s also mostly autobiographical, so there’s no need to set up an extravagant Napoleon Dynamite film set. The filming started in July and was completed by August 2003 in over 20 days.

For movie fans who wish to visit the filming locations of Napoleon Dynamite, you’ll have to go to the rural town of Preston, on the southern border of Idaho. It is approximately around 100 miles north of Salt Lake City. Our main character lives with his grandma and brother in the town’s northeastern part.

The quotable comedy film became a huge hit and helped put Preston, Idaho on the map. Fans from all over the world would visit Preston to tour the places where the movie was filmed, from the main characters’ houses to the Preston High School. It brought so much interest to the quiet town that you’ll even find a map with all the iconic Napoleon Dynamite locations.

Other places used by the Napoleon Dynamite production to bring the script to life include St. Anthony Sand Dunes in Idaho, Franklin, Idaho, and Richmond, Utah.

Fun Fact:

The title character was Jon Heder’s idea. He got it from an older Italian man he once met in Chicago who claimed his name was Napoleon Dynamite.

Grandma Dynamite ATV scene in Napoleon Dynamite

St. Anthony Dunes, Idaho

Who says grannies should just stick to baking, cooking family recipes, or attending their little backyard garden? Well, grandma Dynamite proves that older people can do some adrenaline-pumping activities too.

In one of the notable and rare Napoleon Dynamite action scenes, you’ll see Napoleon’s grandma riding an ATV on the sand dunes. Unfortunately, she wasn’t so lucky that day and fell off the ATV, injuring her tailbone. That evening, Uncle Rico arrives and informs Napoleon and Kip about the accident and that he will stay with them until she returns after her recovery.

The iconic scene of grandma jumping off an all-terrain vehicle was shot in St. Anthony Sand Dunes. It comprises over ten thousand acres of quartz sand located in the Snake River Plain in Idaho. It serves as a playground for many off-road vehicle enthusiasts and is home to one of the country’s largest herds of wintering elk. There is also a campground at Egin Lake and campsites on the dunes’ east end along the Red Road.

If you plan to visit any Napoleon Dynamite location, make sure to stop by St. Anthony Sand Dunes. It is less than five miles northwest of St. Anthony and about fifty miles northwest of the famous Idaho Falls. It’s a natural beauty to enjoy and a great place to have a blast riding four-wheelers, motorcycles, dune buggies, or even a horse.

There are several access areas to the dunes. These include the Desert Oasis access, Sand Hills Resort, and Egin Lakes Access, which provide full-service campgrounds. The easiest and most convenient way to get to the location is through a private vehicle.

‘Liger’ scene in Napoleon Dynamite

Preston High School

In one of the memorable scenes of Napoleon Dynamite, we’ll see Napoleon sitting on the steps outside of the school, drawing something, when Deb sits close to him. Curious, Deb asks what he’s drawing. Then Napoleon casually responds, “a liger." Apparently, it’s his favorite animal, which is “like a lion and a tiger mixed bred for its skills in magic,” as he explains.

The school you see in the movie is actually Preston High School. It is located in central Preston and has become one of the most visited schools in the town as a result of the film’s popularity. Many parts of the movie took place in this school, and the Napoleon Dynamite production used it for numerous exterior and interior shots.

Preston High School is still a functioning school today, so you’ll have to report to the security desk in the main building to get permission to visit. Since it’s in a central location, it’s easily accessible by bus.

You can talk a photo of the building, check out the classrooms, and walk the halls as Napoleon did in the movie. And see if you can still find the multi-colored locker doors used as a backdrop in several remarkable scenes in the film.

Kip and Uncle Rico bowling scene in Napoleon Dynamite

Pop’N Pins Lanes & Island Bowl Grill

While uncle Rico doesn’t seem to have a good relationship with Napoleon, he remains on good terms with Kip. They appear in various scenes together, hanging out, talking about relationships, and chatting like old friends.

In one of the scenes, you’ll see Rico and Kip talking about the money-making scheme that the former has in the works. Then, there’s a part where Kip throws the ball at the bowling alley, bouncing off the gutter and blocking railings a few times before striking the pins. Later in the next shots, you’ll see the bowling lane behind Rico and Kip as they stand immersed in their conversation.

The scene was shot in Pop’N Pins Lanes & Island Bowl Grill, a vintage bowling alley at 441 South Highway 91, Preston. Its appearance in the comedy film made it famous among visitors who would stop by to take pictures, dine, and play.

The bowling center offers open bowling, leagues, and more, whereas the island Bowl Grill boasts excellent Hawaiian cuisines. It provides a dining space and catering services for parties and events. It is open from Monday through Friday, from 11 am to 8 pm. If you want to visit where Kip showed off his bowling skills, make sure you stop by the bowling center. It’s hard to miss as you drive along the highway.

Napoleon suit scene in Napoleon Dynamite

Deseret Industries Thrift Store

Pedro and Napoleon are now getting ready for the school dance. While Deb has prepared something for Pedro, Napoleon plans to wear “just like a silk shirt or something” for the occasion. Pedro must’ve thought (as we probably all agree) that it wasn’t the best idea, so he tells his friend he should get a suit.

The duo goes to the thrift store and finds something nice on a mannequin. Then later, Napoleon appears looking dapper in a beautiful three-piece rusty orange suit. The color choice is brilliant, as it perfectly matches his red Afro. Just don’t pay too much attention to his foliage green socks, and you might be convinced to wear this attire at a formal party.

If you’re curious about where they bought the fabulous suit for the dance, it’s in Deseret Industries Thrift Store located at 36 South State Street. It’s on the west side of US Highway 91 or State St south of Oneida street. Since it’s a low-budget film, most of the wardrobe in the movie was actually sourced from this store.

Chicken farm scene in Napoleon Dynamite

Ritewood, Inc., Franklin, Idaho

Another unforgettable Napoleon Dynamite film scene is when our main character and friends work for a chicken farm. Their task is to put the chickens in their cages that day by noon. As the owner gives them instructions on how to handle the chickens, the concerned Napoleon asks, “Do the chickens have large talons?”

But before trying their hands at chicken farming, they’re given some refreshments. It includes some boiled eggs, sandwiches, and what looked like orange juice with a raw egg stirred in it. So no one can blame Napoleon when he gags after trying the drink.

The shots of the chicken farm where they earn six dollars were filmed on Ritewood Egg Farm’s property in Franklin, Idaho. The character of the supervisor in the movie is loosely based on one of the chicken farm’s founders and a former Franklin resident, Marlow Woodward.

The Ritewood Egg Farm is still in business today. It’s been in the industry for over 50 years and is the only business you’ll find in the area. To get to the company, you’ll have to head east on Main Street from US Highway 91. Then turn left on 300 East, stay on Maple Creek Road and turn left at 4000 East.

Kip’s wedding scene in Napoleon Dynamite

Lamont Reservoir

If it’s your first time watching the film, don’t turn your TV off until you get to the post-credit scene. Otherwise, you’ll miss Kip and LaFawnduh’s sweet, touching, and fun wedding. Kip sings his bride a love song, inspired by his love for all things technology.

Like most weddings where not everything goes according to plan, Kip’s singing is interrupted by Napoleon’s grand entrance arriving on a horse. He apologizes for being late and proclaims he “just got done taming a wild honeymoon stallion” for the bride and groom. He asked Deb to take a photo of him on the horse before the newlyweds took off for their honeymoon.

The scenic outdoor wedding venue in the movie is the 84.5 Lamont Reservoir in Franklin County. It is three miles east of Preston, providing excellent fishing opportunities during weekends or summer holidays. Even if you only came here to visit one of the Napoleon Dynamite filming locations, don’t miss the chance to enjoy the scenery and go fishing. So bring some fishing gear and fish from a float tube, a boat, the shore, or any ADA-accessible dock.

Conclusion

If you’ve never been to Idaho, exploring the different Napoleon Dynamite locations around the town should give you enough reason to take a trip to this tranquil place and discover its natural beauty. While in the area, take time to admire its picturesque mountain landscapes and enjoy its outdoor recreation areas.

Start your adventure at Preston High School and walk around the grounds and halls. Take a picture in front of the school building where Napoleon had an interesting conversation with Deb about his favorite animal. Invite your friends to play bowling at the retro bowling alley or schedule a drive to the sand dunes. Whether you’re traveling solo or with a group, you’ll definitely have fun exploring the numerous settings and unique places where the famous cult comedy Napoleon Dynamite was filmed.