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Visiting The Set - Desolation Canyon
Desolation Canyon

Desolation Canyon is found at the end of a small dirt road off of the road to the Badwaters, a short ways before Artist's Palette. Cars can make it on this dirt road with little difficulty. After parking your car at the end of the road, walk further away from the main road you turned off of (over all those tricky hills and such), and keep looking to your right until the peaks start to line up. Then move away from the canyon, *not* towards it, until things line up. We hiked up into the canyon for about an hour looking for the exact location because we didn't appreciate the scale of the film shots, and should have just backed up a bit instead of hiking so deep into the canyon. Maybe the 97o heat was getting to us. After hiking so far up into the canyon decided to head back to the ranger station and try to talk to Charlie again. We couldn't find Charlie, but we did talk to another ranger who was kind enough to show us some slides they had taken during the original 1976 shoot! It was quite cool to stumble onto these never-before-seen photographs. Cooled off now, we decided to head back and look for the obvious...this time we found it easily. We noticed none of the sites are very far from a road. The film crew didn't want to haul a lot of equipment all over the desert.

Comparison Shot - Spring 1976 vs. Oct. 2000

GPS Coordinates
N 36o 23.622'
W 116o 49.890'
Elevation: 43 ft.

As you can see, almost nothing in Bantha Canyon has changed. Most everything here is rock so it makes sense that it wouldn't. Our shots were not taken at the same time of day as the original shots, which explains why the shadows are all different. You'll notice in the image above that you can't see as much of the mountains in the background (on the horizon) as in the film shot. The film shot was taken from an elevated position. I searched around for something they might have been standing on, but the area is very flat. They must have had some kind of lift/platform that they brought out for this shot, and probably the others as well.

Comparison shot - Spring 1976 vs. Oct. 2000

Comparison shot - Spring 1976 vs. Oct. 2000

GPS Coordinates
N 36o 23.622'
W 116o 49.848'
Elevation: 52 ft.

This image was scanned from Insider #48. As you can tell by the circles, this is the same location. We found it by looking for what we dubbed "nose rock"...a protusion from the cliff which looks like a nose. It almost makes a whole face, as you can see some other lines inscribed in the rocks appear to form an eye (also circled.) The lowest circle shows a slight overhang, which has since collapsed. You will see this wall by standing right where the Bantha stood when the Tusken Raider jumped onto him, and turning 180 degrees away from the road. Wala! There is nose rock.

Comparison shot - Spring 1976 vs. Oct. 2000

This is the image Luke sees when looking through his Macrobinoculars. Strange how our hero was sitting in Tunisia when he looked through them, yet he sees a location in Death Valley, CA... We were able to I.D. this location by noting the overhang seen through the binocs is the same one seen in the Insider pic. Unfortunately, the pic we took is from a diff. angle, and we should have been much further to the right. Still, by looking at all the evidence you can clearly see this is the same place!

Checking reference images on the laptop

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(c) Copyright, site concept by Jason Freiert, 1999
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