13 Top Grand Canyon Movies To Watch Before Your Trip

Into the Wild (2007) Grand Canyon Movies

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The Grand Canyon is the second most-visited United States national park with 4.7 million visitors in 2023 and it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Of course, there are one or two Grand Canyon movies for you to watch!

– This is a collaborative post with MaxTour.

Some of the movies the Grand Canyon has featured in range from westerns to rom-coms to dramas to road comedies.

Many take you deep into the canyon along the Colorado River which formed this landscape two billion years ago. Others stick to the North or South Rim so you can look out over the terrain like the stars in the films.

If you’re planning a trip to one of the most-visited national parks that’s on everyone’s bucket list, there are lots of movies filmed in the Grand Canyon you can watch to get you excited about your upcoming adventure. Some weren’t necessarily filmed there, but set there, at least, and we forgive them because they’re still so good!

I’ve listed only the best Grand Canyon films including information on where you can stream them!

Best Movies Set in the Grand Canyon to Watch Before An Adventure!

1. Ten Who Dared (1960)

English | 92m | N/A Rotten Tomatoes | Find Where to Watch

Let’s kick off the best movies about the Grand Canyon with a Disney classic, Ten Who Dared. It’s a Grand Canyon movie based on the true story of John Wesley Powell’s expedition. He was a United States Army officer and the first to travel down the Colorado River in 1869.

The film is based on Powell’s journal and it follows his team and the dangers they faced while making one of the first maps of this region. Ten Who Dared was actually shot in the Grand Canyon as well as Horseshoe Bend in Arizona and Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Westwater Canyon, and other places in Utah.

It’s a true Western movie filmed in the American West!

Ten Who Dared (1960) Top Grand Canyon Movie
Ten Who Dared | © 1960 Walt Disney Productions

2. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

English | 98m | 94% Rotten Tomatoes | Watch on Amazon Prime

This is one of those classic American family comedy movies that has (mostly) stood the test of time. National Lampoon’s Vacation was directed by Harold Ramis, and written by John Hughes.

It follows the Griswold family on their summer road trip. They’re driving from their home in Illinois to the Walley World amusement park in California, but things don’t quite go to plan!

One of the most iconic scenes from this film is when the Griswold family crashes their car in Monument Valley which is on the Utah-Arizona border. Just afterwards, they stop by a hotel near the Grand Canyon.

The father, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) tries to convince the clerk to cash a personal check because his credit card has stopped working. It’s The El Tovar Hotel near the South Rim and Grand Canyon Visitor Center and it is still operating today.

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
National Lampoon’s Vacation | © 1983 Warner Bros.

3. Grand Canyon (1991)

English | 137m | 79% Rotten Tomatoes | Find Where To Watch

Yup, it’s the Grand Canyon movie! Although Grand Canyon is a fairly obscure film about race and class divides, its quality content and ensemble cast made it a cult classic. Seriously, the Grand Canyon cast includes the likes of Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, and Alfre Woodard for goodness sake! 

I don’t want to spoil the movie too much, but this random group of people book a trip to visit the Grand Canyon together at a pivotal point. Director and writer Lawrence Kasdan (yes, of Star Wars and Indiana Jones fame) uses the symbolism of visiting such a colossal place to put the characters’ lives and troubles in perspective.

Grand Canyon (1991)
Grand Canyon | © 1991 20th Century Fox

4. Thelma & Louise (1991)

English | 129m | 86% Rotten Tomatoes | Watch on Amazon Prime

The Grand Canyon in movies doesn’t get more iconic than Thelma & Louise. In Ridley Scott’s feminist road movie, gal pals Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) drive off on a weekend trip which turns into a crime spree.

Even though this Grand Canyon film is over 30 years old and most people know the ending, I still don’t want to spoil it! But the Grand Canyon features in a big way. However, Scott used a canyon in Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah as a stand-in filming location.

I’ve personally visited Thelma & Louise Point and it’s one of my favourite filming locations of all time!

Thelma & Louise (1991) Best Grand Canyon Movies
Thelma & Louise | © 1991 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

5. Fools Rush In (1997)

English | 109m | 31% Rotten Tomatoes | Watch on Amazon Prime

Ahh, Fools Rush In. Critics did not rate it highly when it was released and it’s definitely not listed among the best rom-coms of the 1990s. But it does have a lot of redeemable qualities and it features the Grand Canyon twice!

Fools Rush In follows the whirlwind and unlikely romance of New Yorker Alex (Matthew Perry) and Nevada-based Isabel (Salma Hayek). They visit the Grand Canyon once during Isabel’s pregnancy and they get re-married there at the end. 

The movie featured the Hoover Dam and lots of Las Vegas locations too.

Fools Rush In (1997)
Fools Rush In | © 1997 Columbia Pictures

6. Held Up (1999)

English | 89m | 17% Rotten Tomatoes | Find Where To Watch

You may look at the Rotten Tomatoes score of Held Up and keep scrolling. But wait! This is one of those ‘so bad its good’ films and it’s still a movie with Grand Canyon scenes, so it’s worth a watch.

Held Up stars Jamie Foxx as Michael, a man enjoying a road trip with his partner Rae (Nia Long) through the southwest. Through his own ineptitude and bad luck, she runs to the nearest airport and he gets wrapped up in criminal activities. 

There are a couple of other faces you might recognise in Held Up like Sarah Paulson and Jack Busey. 

Held Up was filmed on location in Grand Canyon National Park but from my research, it looks like they shot scenes at Quartermaster Canyon and not the South or North Rim.

Held Up (1999)
Held Up | © 1999 Trimark Pictures

7. Nurse Betty (2000)

English | 105m | 83% Rotten Tomatoes | Watch on Amazon Prime

Renée Zellweger stars as the titular character in Nurse Betty. After witnessing the death of her husband at the hands of two hitmen (played by Chris Rock and Morgan Freeman), this Kansas City waitress and aspiring nurse becomes totally delusional. She falls in love with a soap opera character played by Greg Kinnear.

In one scene, she drives off in the middle of the night and heads to William, Arizona on the Historic Route 66 where she stops at a bar. Some of the filming locations for this part of the movie include the Grand Canyon National Park and Kingman, another city in Arizona on the old Route 66.

Nurse Betty (2000)
Nurse Betty | © 2000 Gramercy Pictures

8. Bride & Prejudice (2004)

English, Hindi, Punjabi | 111m | 64% Rotten Tomatoes | Find Where to Watch

Let’s continue our discovery of the Grand Canyon in movies with something a little different. Bride & Prejudice is a Bollywood-style, present-day retelling of the famous Jane Austen novel.

Lalita (Aishwarya Rai) has come of age. Instead of marrying someone of her traditional Indian parents’ choosing, she wants to marry for love. Enter American man William Darcy.

Bride & Prejudice is a culture and country-hopping movie with filming locations in the US, UK, and India. Director Gurinder Chadha shot most of the movie in London, but the scenes at the Grand Canyon were, in fact, filmed there!

There are probably lots of other Bollywood movies shot in the Grand Canyon, but this is the most accessible film for English-speaking audiences.

Bride & Prejudice (2004) Top Grand Canyon Movies
Bride & Prejudice | © 2004 Pathé Distribution

9. A Home At the End of the World (2004)

English | 96m | 50% Rotten Tomatoes | Find Where to Watch

Despite the stars, A Home At the End of the World is one of the most under-the-radar, underrated Grand Canyon movies.

Colin Farrell stars as Bobby, a kid from a tough background who becomes friends with a repressed gay teen called Jonathan. When the two reunite in New York as adults, Bobby moves in with Jonathan and his housemate Clare (Robin Wright).

The three head to Phoenix, Arizona to attend a funeral and they make a detour to visit the Grand Canyon. This is another great example of the real Grand Canyon in movies, and not a stand-in!

A Home at the End of the World (2004)
A Home at the End of the World | © 2004 Warner Independent Pictures

10. Into the Wild (2007)

English | 148m | 83% Rotten Tomatoes | Watch on Amazon Prime

Into The Wild isn’t just one of the most popular movies that have the Grand Canyon featured but it’s also one of the most popular travel movies ever!

Written and directed by Sean Penn and based on the book by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild is based on the true story of Christopher McCandless. After college, he ceased all communication with his family, gave away his savings, and traveled across the United States alone, never to return.

There are so many Into the Wild shot in awesome locations including Denali National Park in Alaska and Salvation Mountain in California. The one we’re interested in is the Colorado River which Christopher attempts to kayak along to get to Mexico undetected. 

Into the Wild (2007) Grand Canyon Movies
Into the Wild | © 2007 Paramount Vantage

11. Due Date (2010)

English | 95m | 40% Rotten Tomatoes | Watch on Amazon Prime

Due Date has a simple premise. Robert Downey Jr. plays Peter Highman, a man who needs to fly home to Los Angeles from Atlanta to be there in time for his wife to give birth. Zach Galifianakis plays Ethan Tremblay, a man planning to spread his father’s ashes at the Grand Canyon and who manages to get Peter on the No Fly List.

The filming location used wasn’t in Grand Canyon National Park, it was just south on the Hualapai Indian Reservation in Arizona. The landscape is still beautiful!

Due Date (2010)
Due Date | © 2010 Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures

12. Parks & Recreation (2009 – 2015)

English | Season 4, Episode 6 | 30m | Find Where to Watch

Okay, so technically I’m talking about an episode in a TV show and not a film, so it doesn’t really belong on a list of Grand Canyon movies. However, its an episode from my favourite comedy sitcom, so I hope you will forgive me!

In a Parks & Recreation episode called ‘End of the World’, a local cult predicts that the end is nigh. Inspired, April (Aubrey Plaza) asks her husband Andy (Chris Pratt) what is on his bucket list. One of his dreams is to visit the Grand Canyon before he dies, so they take off from Indiana and drive all night.

They arrive at an incredible sunrise view of the canyon, only for Andy to ask where the presidents’ faces are. He got the Grand Canyon confused with Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Whomp-whomp.

Parks & Recreation (2009 - 2015) End of the World Episode Grand Canyon
Parks & Recreation | © 2009 – 2015 NBC

13. Vacation (2015)

English | 99m | 27% Rotten Tomatoes | Watch on Amazon Prime

We’ve almost come full circle as there are officially two movies with Grand Canyon scenes in the National Lampoon or Vacation film series! 

In this movie, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) is all grown up and has fond memories of going on vacation to Walley World. Of course, their road trip does not go exactly as planned. Along the way, they attempt to go rafting along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon but Chad (Charlie Day), their recently dumped rafting guide, is less than competent.

Although the movie did great at the box office, it’s not as critically acclaimed as its predecessor! However, if you’re looking for a fun family comedy and want to watch new movies at the Grand Canyon, it’s still a great option.

Vacation (2015)
Vacation | © 2014 Warner Bros. and RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC

Other Grand Canyon Movies: The Thief of Bagdad (1940), The Trial of Billy Jack (1974), Hanky Panky (1982), Maverick (1994), Joe Dirt (2001), Next (2007), The Darkness (2016)

Book Your Tour from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon with MaxTour

There are four ways you can visit the Grand Canyon: by car, by flying then picking up a rental car, by helicopter, or by tour. 

I’m from the UK but I’m currently planning a move to Utah. So, I can tell you that the best city in the American West to travel to (for a convenient airport and an awesome trip) is Las Vegas!

That’s where MaxTour comes in.

MaxTour offers small group tours from Las Vegas to the incredible scenic destinations nearby. We’re talking about places like Antelope Canyon, Hoover Dam, the Seven Magic Mountains, and, yes, the Grand Canyon! 

Many of their overnight tours include visits to multiple spots like this incredible trip to the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon

You don’t have to deal with rental cars, park shuttles, or waiting in line. Every tour offers a friendly tour guide, refreshments, pit stops, and a comfortable van.

If you don’t believe me, you can read the flawless five-star reviews from happy day tourers about MaxTour on TripAdvisor.

Check out their range of half-day, one-day, and two-day Grand Canyon Tours here.

Grand Canyon Movies: That’s a Wrap!

Those are all the best Grand Canyon movies out there for you to watch so you can get excited to visit! Are you planning a trip to the Grand Canyon?

Have you watched any of the films I’ve recommended or have more to add?

Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks again to MaxTour for collaborating with me on this post!

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