True Grit Locations
Unlike the 1969 adaptation of True Grit, which was largely shot around Ridgway, Colorado, the 2010 remake was filmed at various locations in Texas and New Mexico.
Fort Smith, Arkansas, the town that Mattie travels to so she can get justice for her father, was shot in Granger, Texas. Located around 50 miles northeast of Austin, Granger boasts historic streetscapes that were jazzed up in parts with timber storefronts to help give the area an authentic look.
Nearby Bartlett is home to a bank that was transformed into an undertaker’s office for the film, while memorable courtroom scenes involving Rooster were shot in Blanco, some 50 miles to the west of Austin.
But when Mattie and the lawmen head out into Indian Territory, many of the scenes were shot at locations near Santa Fe and Las Vegas, New Mexico. These include True Grit locations such as San Cristobal Ranch and Charles R Ranch.
If you’d like to check out a True Grit filming location for yourself, we’ve gathered together the locations and access details of a host of famous settings from the film (spoiler alert!). Keep reading to find out where they are and how you can visit them.
True Grit is an adaptation of a 1968 novel by Charles Portis. An earlier adaptation was filmed in 1969 and starred John Wayne alongside Glen Campbell.
Mattie arrives in Fort Smith scene in True Grit
“People do not give it credence that a young girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood, but it did happen” — this is our first introduction to Mattie, narrating as an adult the amazing adventure she embarked upon as a 14-year-old.
Mattie tells the audience the story of Chaney, about how he killed her father. And about how when no one in Fort Smith gave chase, he probably thought he’d got away with his crime scot-free. But Mattie has news for him: “You must pay for everything in this world one way and another,” she narrates.
Then we see the face of a slightly nervous-looking 14-year-old as a train pulls into Fort Smith, and she climbs down from the carriage and strides purposefully into the main street to begin her quest for justice.
The Fort Smith we see on screen is actually the town of Granger, TX, which is a 50-mile drive northeast of Austin. With buildings dating from the late 19th and early 20th century, Granger was the perfect setting to be easily transformed into Fort Smith.
Rooster testifies in court scene in True Grit
Old Blanco County Courthouse
Mattie knows that if she’s going to bring Chaney to justice, she’s going to need someone tough and uncompromising on her side. She finds exactly what she’s looking for in the form of Rooster Cogburn, the hard-drinking US Marshal who is never one to back away from a fight. Rooster is best summed up by the local sheriff: “He is a pitiless man, double tough and fear don’t enter into his thinking. He loves to pull a cork,” the man tells Mattie.
And she’s about to get a taste of exactly what he means when she witnesses Rooster testifying in court. Rooster is being grilled about killing two men and wounding another, and it’s clear this no-nonsense lawman likes doing things his own way. When he’s asked how many men he’s killed in his four years as Marshal, Cogburn’s response is blunt: “I never shot nobody I didn’t have to.”
It’s soon revealed that Cogburn has killed 23 men in the past four years. “It is a dangerous business,” he explains.
These courtroom scenes were filmed at the Old Blanco County Courthouse in Blanco, TX. Located roughly 95 miles southwest of Granger, the courthouse is easy to find on Blanco’s Main Street.
Mattie crosses the river scene in True Grit
Colorado River in Texas
After finally convincing Rooster to track down Chaney and bring him to justice, Mattie is dismayed to discover that he’s left town without her. He leaves behind a letter: “By the time you read this I will be across the river in the Indian Nation. Pursuit would be futile. I will return with your man Chaney. Leave me to my work,” it reads.
But Mattie has no intention of leaving him to his work. Instead, she climbs aboard her horse, Little Blackie, and sets off in hot pursuit. When she makes it to the river, she sees the Marshal and LaBoeuf on the other side, and Rooster has told the slow-witted ferryman not to let Mattie cross but instead take her to the sheriff.
“Look Slim, if you don’t turn around and take me across you may find yourself in court where you don’t want to be. I have a good lawyer,” she threatens, but her demands fall on deaf ears. So Mattie is forced to resort to violence to overpower the ferryman to make her escape, and she then rides a galloping Little Blackie into the river.
These True Grit action scenes were filmed somewhere on the Colorado River in Texas, to the west of Lampasas. Lampasas is found on Route 281, roughly 70 miles north of Austin.
Cogburn and Mattie prepare to ambush the Pepper Gang scene in True Grit
San Cristobal Ranch
As Cogburn and Mattie set off on the trail of Chaney and the Pepper Gang, they find two blundering outlaws by the name of Quincy (Paul Rae) and Moon (Domhnall Gleeson) sheltering in a cabin. The men surrender after Moon is shot and wounded by Cogburn, and Quincy soon turns on his partner after the other man volunteers information to Cogburn and Mattie.
Having learned that the Pepper Gang will visit the cabin later that night to stock up on supplies, Rooster leads Mattie up onto a nearby ridge so they can ambush the gang when they arrive. “We wait. They ride up, what we want is to get them all in the dugout. I will kill the last one to go in and then we will have them in a barrel,” he says.
But their plan is thrown into chaos when LaBoeuf arrives unexpectedly just before the gang, resulting in a tense and violent shootout.
The cabin in this True Grit scene was constructed at San Cristobal Ranch in New Mexico, about 30 miles south of Santa Fe. You may recognize the ranch’s terrain from a host of other productions, including titles like Cowboys and Aliens and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
Mattie falls into a pit of rattlesnakes scene in True Grit
Charles R Ranch Cave
This True Grit film scene is one of the movie’s most memorable, especially for anyone who’s terrified of snakes. Finally, after an epic journey and plenty of battles along the way, Mattie at long last gets a chance to exact revenge on Chaney. And she makes no mistakes, shooting him in the chest and killing him.
But she’s not out of danger yet, as the recoil from the weapon pushes her backward and she falls into a pit. Not only does she suffer a broken leg, but there’s a skeleton in the pit alongside a writhing ball of snakes. Even for this formidable teenager, the situation is quite simply terrifying.
She calls for LaBoeuf, and is eventually relieved to hear Rooster’s voice. “There are snakes!” she tells him with alarm, and she soon gets bitten.
This frantic scene was shot at the Charles R Ranch Cave, a former turquoise mine roughly 10 miles south of Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Mattie travels to Memphis to see Cogburn scene in True Grit
The Austin Club
The epilogue of True Grit also leaves viewers with lasting memories. Having retold the story of her epic adventure, we now see an adult Mattie some 25 years later making her way to Memphis. She’s there to catch up with Rooster, who is appearing there in a Wild West show, and we see her navigating her way around the city to find her old friend.
But, sadly, she’s too late. She learns from Cole Younger (Don Pirl), one of Rooster’s co-stars, that the old Marshal has died. “It grieves me to tell you that you have missed Rooster. He passed away, what, three days ago, when the show was in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Buried him there in the confederate cemetery,” he explains.
Of course, Mattie has other ideas about where Rooster should be buried. “I had the marshal’s body removed to Dardanelle. The railroads do not like to carry disinterred bodies in the summertime, but I had my way,” she narrates.
The Memphis streetscapes we see in this True Grit film scene were actually shot in Austin, TX. In particular, you’ll notice the gorgeous facade of what is today known as The Austin Club, a building constructed in 1878. It’s easy to locate on East 9th Street in the heart of downtown Austin.
While it was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography, True Grit didn’t end up taking home any Oscars. But it did pick up plenty of high ratings and praise from movie critics and audiences, and this Coen Brothers Western is an enjoyable escape from start to finish.
The performances are strong across the board, and this adaptation is a whole lot more faithful to the original novel than the earlier creation starring John Wayne. And with some of the best scenes in True Grit shot at iconic movie ranches and a host of easily accessible real-world locations, it’s easy to get out there and check out these silver screen settings for yourself.