Where was Planet of the Apes filmed?
Trona Pinnacles, California; Lake Powell, Arizona; Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Desert, Americana/Anywhere America, Foreign, Mountain Huts
About Planet of the Apes
The 1968 film Planet of the Apes is considered a classic of Hollywood cinema. So when director Tim Burton released his re-imagining of this sci-fi blockbuster in 2001, he had pretty big shoes to fill.
Enter Mark Wahlberg, who plays the starring role as Leo Davidson, an astronaut who works aboard the Oberon space station training apes for missions into space. When a powerful storm is headed for the station, an ape named Pericles is sent out in a pod to study the storm. But when Pericles’ pod drops completely off the radar, Leo launches his own pod into the storm in a desperate bid to rescue his ape friend.
And that’s when things take a turn for the worse. Leo loses touch with the Oberon and manages to survive a violent crash-landing on a strange planet. And when we say strange, we mean the planet is ruled by talking apes who keep humans as slaves, often brutally mistreating them. Not only that, but Leo has somehow been transported thousands of years into the future, so he’s a very long way from home indeed.
If he’s going to survive and make it back to Earth in one piece, Leo is in for the fight of his life. And while he finds help in the form of the human resistance and Ari (Helena Bonham Carter), an ape who protests the cruel treatment of humans, he’s severely outnumbered. And with the fearsome General Thade (Tim Roth) and Colonel Attar (Michael Clarke Duncan) desperate to punish any attempts at uprising, Leo’s escape from the planet is going to be far from easy.
If you want to visit the filming location of Planet of the Apes, you’ve come to the right place. Below we’ve gathered the details and settings of some of the best scenes in Planet of the Apes, so keep reading to find out how you can check them out for yourself.
Planet of the Apes Locations
Where do you go if you want to visit the faraway ape-ruled planet from the 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes? While many scenes were filmed in the studio in LA, there are still a few important Planet of the Apes locations found in the real world around the country.
One such spot is the Trona Pinnacles in central California. Situated in the California desert, these unique rocky spires certainly do look like they could be on another planet, and it’s here that the film shoot scene where Leo discovers what’s left of the crashed Oberon spaceship.
To further capture the mood of being a long way from home, the production also filmed scenes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. With its eye-catching black lava fields, the area is the perfect fit for the apes’ planet.
Finally, Burton also paid homage to the 1968 original by using Arizona’s Lake Powell as a filming location. It’s the site of an ape army camp and also where we see huge ape effigies along steep cliffs.
The part of Linus in Ocean’s 11 was originally offered to Mark Wahlberg instead of Matt Damon, but Wahlberg turned it down so he could work on Planet of the Apes.
Ape effigies scene in Planet of the Apes
After making a desperate escape from the city, Leo sets off across the countryside to try and find a way off this godforsaken planet. Along with Ari and Krull (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), with him are other humans fighting in the rebellion.
And as our adventurers climb up a steep cliff, one of those humans, a young boy named Birn (Luke Eberl) recoils in alarm when his hand closes around the foot of an imposing ape effigy.
“The apes put them where they don't want us to go. Crossing means certain death,” Daena (Estella Warren) explains. And when Leo asks what’s so important on the other side of the hill, Daena explains that their trail leads to the ancient ruins at Calima.
The cliffs where these Planet of the Apes action scenes were filmed are found at Lake Powell in Arizona’s north, which also featured in the 1968 film. Lake Powell is located around 130 miles north of Flagstaff, and the production filmed at a beach known as Independence Bay.
Leo finds the Oberon scene in Planet of the Apes
Leo has no idea what is lying in wait for him at the ancient ruins of Calima, which also happens to be where he’s picked up the signal from an emergency beacon. The apes claim it’s where creation began and where Semos, the first ape, came to life. And after a nerve-wracking ride through an ape army encampment and across a river, Leo and his friends finally arrive at Calima.
There, Leo is stunned to find the crashed ruins of the Oberon spaceship. Inside the ship, where the animal cages were kept, a partially obscured “CAUTION: LIVE ANIMALS” warning sign is only showing six of its letters: “CA LI MA.” “It’s…my ship,” a stunned Leo utters.
This Planet of the Apes filming location is found at the Trona Pinnacles in the California Desert National Conservation Area. These tall spires really stand out from the surrounding desert landscape and are found near Ridgecrest in central California. You might also recognize the area from its appearance in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
Battle scene in Planet of the Apes
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Leo has finally found the Oberon and started to piece together how he ended up on the planet of the apes. But he’s not going to get off the planet without a fight, as General Thade raises an army to quell the human uprising.
And in a violent encounter, the ape army attacks — and is repelled in shock when Leo blasts them using the remaining fuel from the Oberon’s tanks. Many of the remaining apes are terrified, but Thade refuses to be cowed. “We will attack,” he orders.
The battle scenes from Planet of the Apes were filmed In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Specifically, the solidified black lava fields near Mount Kilauea were used to create a battlefield that looks exactly like it’s on another planet. According to Lonely Planet, the best way to check out this terrain is to tackle the Kilauea Iki Trail, which is a difficult 3.3-mile loop from the Kilauea Iki Overlook.
It may not have received the same level of critical or even audience acclaim as the 1968 original, but the 2001 version of Planet of the Apes is still a memorable watch. From its violent battle scenes to Leo’s eventual escape, it’s a worthy installment in the Planet of the Apes franchise.
Even better, it’s easy to get out there and check out some spectacular Planet of the Apes locations for yourself. So stop staring at a screen you “damn dirty human” and check these locations out in person.