Star Wars trek: Buttercup Valley - Feb 3, 2001

Star Wars stories
After my great trip in 1999 to Star Wars filming locations all over the world, I found myself very anxious to find some others a little closer to home. My first trip would be to the Imperial Sand Dunes in Buttercup Valley near Yuma, Arizona. This is where the Jabba's Sail Barge scenes for Return of the Jedi were filmed. New scenes for the ANH Special Edition were also shoot near Yuma according to Star Wars Galaxy 6. I didn’t really have a lot to go by to find the exact spot but it was only a 4-hour drive away so why not go check it out.
My first stop was in Yuma to see where the cast and crew stayed during filming. The Making of ROTJ mentioned that they held a “Morning storyboard conference held at the Pueblo Coffee shop counter near Stardust Motel” but I guess that has since been demolished and a Fry’s Grocery store built in its place.

The vague directions I had, were again from The Making of ROTJ and started in Yuma:

"18 miles due west of the town, on Interstate 8, past Sidewinder road, past the Sleepy Hollow Dump Depot, past a highway sign saying, "Mexico Next Right," and about a mile past the freeway comfort station turnoff, was Buttercup Valley"

"the cavalcade rolls away from the Stardust. It goes 23 blocks north to the Colorado River, then turns west on Interstate 8 and rolls on into California toward Buttercup Valley"

It ended up being very easy to find by taking the Grays Well rd. exit off I-8 and you right away come across a sign welcoming you to the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. From here though, I wasn’t too sure where to go. Another quote in The Making of ROTJ says "we were 2 miles off the road and the area had to be maintained daily". Since I didn’t have an off-road vehicle and didn’t even know the right direction, this was as far as I got. The dunes were beautiful and it was very easy to imagine being on the planet Tatooine in a galaxy far, far away. I walked in a little to get some pictures of the dunes but that was it for this journey.

See more pictures from my trip here.

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