The Big Valley movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was The Big Valley filmed?

About The Big Valley

With a realistic setting that presents hardships in the Western world, The Big Valley was one of the more successful westerns that aired during its era and focused on a wealthy American ranch family. Part of its appeal was described by one of its actors Richard Long, who said that “Part of the attraction of the series is that we are as a family not always right. We just do the best we can under the circumstances. No superheroes, just human beings. And that’s what people identify with.”

Loosely based on Hill Ranch, which was a ranch that was operational from 1855 to 1931, The Big Valley was a series that ran for four seasons with a total of 112 episodes from 1965 to 1969. The main characters of the show revolve around the Barkley family and how they uphold justice and equality in the face of corrupt villains in the show’s present day.

Although that becomes the focus of the series, the first season delves into the setting of the show which is set six years after the family patriarch, Thomas Barkley, dies.

One of the main characters throughout the series includes Heath Barkley, portrayed by Lee Majors, who in season one laid claim to the Barkley name as he was Thomas Barkley’s illegitimate son. The rest of the main characters are the rest of the Barkley family, Victoria Barkley, Jarrod Thomas Barkley, Nicholas “Nick” Johnathan Barkley as well as Audra Barkley.

According to “Wildest Western Magazine”, Peter Breck, who played Nick Barkley, was able to draw his gun in 16/100 of a second, making his character the fastest draw in television history! Several other recurring characters include the Barkley’s majordomo, Silas, Sheriff Fred Madden, and the youngest Barkley son, Eugene Barkley, who much like the rest of his brothers, has a temper that is quick to rise. Eugene Barkley only appeared for eight episodes, all in the first season, after that he was drafted for the military and was only mentioned one more time.

City Locations

Stockton, Newhall, Los Angeles, Agua Dulce, Tucson, Gold Canyon

Location Types

Naturescapes, Ranch, Studios

Location Styles

Desert, Dilapidated/Neglected, Federal Building, Ranch Style

The Big Valley Locations

The Big Valley is set to be in and around the City of Stockton. Although it was set to be within this area, most of the filming took place in the Southern portion of California. Several scenes were filmed within the Wildwood Regional Park that’s located in Thousand Oaks, California.

Many locations used throughout the series were shot in various ranches, sound stage studios, as well as nature reserves and parks so you may be able to visit these locations the next time you make a turn into one of the many cities that were used as a filming location of The Big Valley.

Fun Fact: The jailhouse set used for this series was the same jailhouse set that the movie Gunsmoke, shot in 1955, used.

Fun Fact:

Although Thomas Barkley was a major plot point in many instances within the series, he is never portrayed in person and the only instances the audience gets to see him are through a painting and a statue.

Opening credits scene in The Big Valley

Twelve Oaks Mansion, Covington, Georgia

With the pilot episode kicking it off with Heath meeting the Barkley brothers, the audience gets shown the opening credits scene where we get a glimpse of the famed Barkley family once more. The opening credits focus on the musical score which means that there are no dialogue lines. However, the audience gets to see the setting of the series and before the next scene begins, on a train where a railroad baron asks, “Where’s the Swinson property?”, the audience catches a glimpse of the Barkley estate’s mansion.

The Barkley mansion is a famous mansion also known to many as the mansion that inspired the famous film “Gone with the Wind” which was filmed in 1939. This mansion, showcased in the opening credits, can be reached through driving only as there are no nearby public transportation routes to get there. Drive along Floyd Street Northeast and then make a turn on Monticello Street Southwest to Ivy Street Southwest to reach the famous Twelve Oaks mansion, now the Twelve Oaks Bed and Breakfast

Brothers try to send Heath away scene in The Big Valley

CBS Studio Center, Los Angeles, California

In the first episode of The Big Valley in season one, the audience sees Heath attempt to make a claim for the name of the Barkley family, even though he is the illegitimate son of Thomas Barkley. With the brothers attempting to get rid of Heath, they offer to pay him three to four hundred and when they ask him what he thinks, Heath replies with, “What I’m entitled to. A name, a heritage, a part of it all, what’s mine.” They threaten him once more, claiming that if he doesn’t leave the valley, the brothers will finish what they started.

Most of the interior shots for the various residences showcased within the first episode of The Big Valley were shot at the CBS Studio Center located in Los Angeles. This studio served as one of the primary studios used in The Big Valley productions. The studio has grown since the shooting of this series and now boasts 18 soundstages and backlot sets including a New York City Street!

Since the studio is located in the city, there are many ways to get there. Try taking a bus route that runs along Laurel Canyon Boulevard. You can then hop off by Ventura Plaza and then the studio is a few minutes' walk from the plaza.

Victoria travels to Strawberry scene in The Big Valley

Corriganville Park

Seeking to learn more about Heath’s past before the unveiling of the family patriarch’s statue, Victoria decides to visit Heath’s birthplace. As she arrives in the dilapidated town, she begins to learn more about the secret past of Thomas Barkley, who had an affair with a woman named Leah who gave birth to Heath.

A conspiracy occurs involving some of the residents in Strawberry and a character called Martha fears that the truth will be revealed. Near the end of the episode, we see a distraught Martha looking for Phelps, and when he asks her what she wants him to do, she replies with, “Kill them.” Phelps unsuccessfully completed his task, dying in the process and we see an unharmed Victoria arrive to see the statue of the late Thomas Barkley.

The exterior for the town of Strawberry was shot at the Corriganville Movie Ranch. This movie ranch has since been turned into a 246-acre park that offers several trails and is now called Corriganville Park. With several of The Big Valley’s action scenes taking place along this movie ranch, you’re sure to feel in the mood for a western draw when visiting this area.

To get to the now Corriganville Park, you can travel along Kuehner Drive and then make a turn along Smith Road, which leads directly to the park.

Heath Barkley talks to the foreman scene in The Big Valley

Franklyn Reservoir

In season one of The Big Valley, Heath is forced to face his past when he comes across Matt Bentell, played by John Anderson, who was the commander of a confederate prisoner of war camp in New Mexico. Matt Bentell is now the foreman of the logging camp that the Barkleys own and it becomes apparent that the two don’t get along. Heath mentions to Matt, “I’ve been in this saddle since sunup, can’t you move any faster?” Although the setting of this scene is gorgeous, the words exchanged between Matt Bentell and Heath Barkley are not.

Franklyn Reservoir was chosen as The Big Valley’s film set for this episode, so it was relatively easy to create a beautiful setting while keeping the audience engaged with the content. The road leading up to this area is relatively straightforward.

Drive along North Beverly Drive and make a turn on Franklin Canyon Drive. You will eventually reach the location where The Big Valley production team decided to film one of its many episodes. The Canyon has trails as well as adequate parking lots for your vehicles if you’re interested in hiking the area.

Victoria Barkley delivers good news scene in The Big Valley

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

As Victoria Barkley watches the three clueless bandits attempt to open the safe, the audience feels a sort of empathy for them as they’re forced into this life rather than choosing to rob for fun. Towards the end of the episode, the audience sees Victoria Barkley make a short exchange with the train station manager. He asks her, “They didn’t get it open, did they?” To which she says, “No, and here’s your combination!”

With the background being so scenic, it's evident that the studio filming this episode went elsewhere to find a set that could fit the deal. As a result, the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park became the chosen location to host some of The Big Valley action scenes, particularly this scene in the tenth episode of season 2.

Getting to this location is an easy task as there are many ways, including public transportation. By simply driving along Escondido Canyon Road, you’re bound to come across the Nature Center.

Heath attempts to run away scene in The Big Valley

Santa Monica Mountains

With Bettina’s supposed husband dead in the fourteenth episode of the third season, she enlists Heath Barkley to be her slave. However, with some quick thinking and fast reflexes, Heath is quickly able to escape his role as a slave from Bettina. Moments later, however, Hermit returns and asks, “Where’s Barkley?” to which Bettina replies, “He attacked David and he ran off over there.”

This scene in The Big Valley was filmed along the Santa Monica Mountains. The scenic location helps build a sense of being one with nature as well as a pastoral setting which helps put into perspective just how outdated these people are.

To get to this location where Heath was almost turned into a slave for the rest of his life, you can drive along North Beverly Drive and then make a turn on Lake Drive.

Conclusion

Although westerns are generally known to be a masculine genre, The Big Valley takes this genre and makes it so that it stands as one of the best female-led Western Series ever produced.

With the strong leadership of Victoria Barkley, it's plain to see how her sons followed in her footsteps. With each episode delving into a different challenge for the family, viewers are able to connect with the characters a bit better, cementing The Big Valley as one of the best western series of the 60s.