The Revenant Locations
Alejandro González Iñárritu won the Oscar for Best Director for The Revenant, with Emmanuel Lubezki taking home the gong for Best Cinematography. From the outset of the project, Iñárritu was adamant that The Revenant was not going to be filmed in front of a green screen — it would instead be filmed on location as much as possible, taking the cast and crew into the heart of the untamed wilderness the film depicts.
As a result, many of the movie’s most memorable scenes were filmed in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada, a mountainous area found west of Calgary. The terrain here offers rugged beauty on an almost unimaginable scale, so it was the ideal setting for The Revenant.
But there are a few famous scenes from the movie that were actually filmed elsewhere. The brutal sequence where DiCaprio is mauled by a bear was filmed in British Columbia, while Kootenai Falls in Montana take a starring role as Glass gets washed over a waterfall.
However, when there was a lack of snow in Alberta, the crew were forced to film the breathtaking final showdown near Ushuaia, a town in Argentina near the southernmost point of South America.
So if you’re searching for the locations of the best scenes in The Revenant, here’s where you need to go.
Leonardo DiCaprio has described The Revenant as the most difficult film he’s ever made, with the brutal weather on location making many scenes a challenge.
The attack on the trappers’ camp scene in The Revenant
Stoney First Nations Reserve near Morley
It doesn’t take long for Iñárritu to plunge his audience straight into the action as the trappers come under attack from the Arikara Native American tribe. The attack is swift and brutal, with fighters on both sides of the conflict meeting painful ends. “Leave the furs! To the boat!” Glass screams, frantically fighting his way to safety.
This bloody scene was shot in the Stoney First Nations Reserve near Morley, roughly 45 miles west of Calgary. This site is off the scenic Bow Valley Trail, which lies a little to the north of the Trans-Canada Highway, and this scene reportedly required many rehearsals to ensure the carefully orchestrated chaos was captured perfectly onscreen.
Glass is mauled by a bear scene in The Revenant
This is a scene that’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. While out hunting in the forest, Glass is brutally — and we mean brutally — mauled by a bear. It’s a fiercely violent scene that feels like it’s never going to end, and one that leaves a lasting impression long after the movie has finished.
However, unlike much of the rest of the film, this scene wasn’t filmed in Alberta but in British Columbia. Leo did battle with the bear in an area known as Derringer Forest, with this The Revenant filming location found on the eastern side of the Squamish River around 30 miles northwest of Squamish. This is far from an easy site to get to and is accessed by a logging road, so it may not be an option for all movie fans to check out.
Of course, this is one of the few scenes in The Revenant where CGI was actually used. Rather than wrestling a real bear, DiCaprio was hooked up to a special harness connected to cables, allowing him to be slammed into rubber trees and create an authentic ‘mauling’.
Glass goes over the falls scene in The Revenant
Later in the film as Glass continues his epic trek through the wilderness, he’s continually tracked by the Arikara. Cornered on the edge of an icy river, our hero has no choice but to plunge into the freezing waters to make his escape.
He desperately flails through the water, diving to avoid arrows that fizz past and miss him by mere inches, and is soon out of reach of the trackers. But there’s worse to follow, as Glass finds himself being dragged downstream through churning rapids before plunging over a steep waterfall.
This memorable scene from The Revenant is one of the few scenes that was actually shot in the United States. The waterfall featured is Kootenai Falls, located near Libby in northwestern Montana, a site you may recognize from 1994 Meryl Streep film The River Wild. It’s a spectacularly beautiful location and one that’s easily accessible off US 2, so remember to bring your camera.
Fitzgerald treks through the wilderness scene in The Revenant
One of the recurring themes of The Revenant is the insignificance of man compared to the majesty of nature. There are several scenes throughout the film that showcase this with stunning effectiveness, and some of the best of them include the villain of the piece, John Fitzgerald.
As Fitzgerald treks through the wilderness, knowing that Glass is out there somewhere desperate for revenge, we’re treated to several beautiful shots showing the remote and rugged terrain.
These shots were filmed at Fortress Mountain, a ski resort found around 80 miles west of Calgary. You might also recognize some of the scenery here from Inception, another Leo DiCaprio film, so it’s well worth exploring the area to immerse yourself in the impressive natural beauty on offer.
Another interesting factoid is that the director wanted a shot of Glass witnessing an avalanche as part of his epic journey. Rather than creating this using CGI, the crew used planes to drop explosives on the mountain and trigger an avalanche, and then captured it on film using a crane on Fortress Mountain.
Fitzgerald sees a meteorite scene in The Revenant
Badlands of Drumheller, Horseshoe Canyon
Relentlessly pursued by Glass, Fitzgerald doggedly continues his own epic journey. As he also faces up to the harsh conditions and the stark beauty of the wilderness, you can see that the quest is taking its toll.
In one of the more memorable scenes in The Revenant, Fitzgerald witnesses a meteorite blazing across the sky and crashing to earth. To find this The Revenant filming location, you’ll need to head around 70 miles northeast of Calgary to the Badlands of Drumheller.
Home to spectacular and unique rock formations, the area is also known for the large number of dinosaur fossils that have been uncovered there. This particular scene from The Revenant was shot in Horseshoe Canyon, roughly 10 miles out of Drumheller, and boasts striped walls that have a huge impact when viewed on screen.
The Badlands have also featured in productions like Unforgiven and Hell On Wheels, so it’s worth planning a larger itinerary of local sights if you plan on checking out this filming location from The Revenant.
The final showdown scene in The Revenant
Olivia River, Ushuaia
Having survived more than anyone would have thought possible, Glass finally comes face to face with Fitzgerald once again and gets a chance to exact his revenge. He corners his nemesis next to a river, and as you’d expect given what’s already occurred throughout the film, the showdown that follows is quite simply brutal (and gruesome).
“You came all this way just for your revenge, huh? You enjoy it, Glass, 'cuz ain't nothing gonna bring your boy back,” Fitzgerald spits.
As mentioned above, this scene was actually shot thousands of miles away from most other The Revenant filming locations. It was shot near the Argentinian resort town of Ushuaia, on the Olivia River, and is a fitting end to an epic tale of survival.
“As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight.” This quote from Hugh Glass sums up what The Revenant is all about. Against all odds and in the face of shocking adversity, Glass relies on sheer willpower and perseverance to survive and eventually avenge his son.
But along the way he ventures through some of the most spectacular terrain ever captured on the silver screen, showcasing the wild American frontier in all its glory. It’s easy to see why The Revenant took home the Oscar for Best Cinematography, as the wilderness even manages to outshine Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his best ever roles.
So if you want to visit any of The Revenant filming locations, you’re sure to encounter some truly spectacular sights and experience Mother Nature in all her glory.