Posted by: Jerry Garrett | October 4, 2013

GRAVITY Filmed in “Lake Powell, Arizona”? Not Exactly

The Arizona portion of Lake Powell. (Google Earth)

The Arizona portion of the Colorado River below Lake Powell. (Google Earth)

Where was the movie “Gravity” filmed?

No, Outer Space is not the correct answer.

Almost all of it was filmed on stages at Shepperton Studios in England. But there was one particular scene (this is not a spoiler alert) that was shot on location. And just exactly where was that location?

The film’s credit roll lists a second unit shoot in Arizona. IMDB lists “Lake Powell, Arizona” as a location.

Can we narrow it down a bit more? I believe we can. Caveat: There’s a “trick question” aspect to the answer.

Lake Powell is in Utah.

So, where is “Lake Powell, Arizona”?

Below Lake Powell proper, at the Utah-Arizona state line, the Colorado River resumes for a couple of miles before the location of the Glen Canyon Dam. (Glen Canyon Dam was built 1956-66 to hold back the waters of the Colorado River – and to create Lake Powell.)

Is this the location? I think so. (Vaughn & Julie’s blog)

Water also backed up just above the dam in a side canyon, west of the river. This created a small body of water, separate from the rest of Lake Powell (which is farther up the river) known locally as Wahweap Bay. There’s a marina in the area. The satellite picture (at top) shows every bit of the lake and river which is in the state of Arizona.

Access in this area is limited by several factors, including terrain, lack of roads, the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation and the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. The National Park Service watches over much of the Wahweap region.

If you want to avoid all those factors (and the filmmakers apparently did, not having thanked any of those entities in the credit roll), your best bet would seem to be the west bank of the lake, between Wahweap and Page, where Lake Shore Drive runs. You have vehicle access there. Plus lake access. You also need some shallow water for the scenes we are talking about.

So my vote is for this scenic little bay shown here in the second photo (in the larger view, at top, this is roughly in the center left).

There is also some nice red clay in this area.

This shallow bay is less than a mile north of Page, Ariz.

This shallow bay is less than a mile north of Page, Ariz.

Interestingly, there are no reports of any sightings of either Sandra Bullock, or a film crew, in this area.

Bet nobody saw her in Lake Zurich, Ill., either.

Jerry Garrett

October 4, 2013

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Responses

  1. They were there for like 3 days for filming. Have a friend who worked at the boat harbor and helped get the film crew to the spot where they filmed.

    • Thanks! Thought I recognized the area…

  2. Hi Jerry, in the closing scene of the movie we can see a green area, small hills covered by plants no bare rocks as in the photos showed…is there a similar area in the location you recognized?

    • There’s some green around there. When I see the movie again, I’ll check out those hills.

      • Not a confirmation of a specific location at Lake Powell, but in an interview in Vulture, Alfonso Cuaron does explain the greenery:
        “in the water [shot at Lake Powell, Arizona, with significant postproduction alterations to make it green and lush and butterfly-filled]“

  3. They would still need a film permit from the NPS wouldn’t they?

    • Maybe. We used to film on BLM land in Nevada and sometimes we needed a permit, and sometimes we didn’t. Maybe they didn’t use lands under NPS jurisdiction. Almost all of Utah is under federal jurisdiction. Arizona is less that way.

  4. thank you Jerry.

    my friends and i were speculating that the lake was the actual lake zurich in europe.
    and now i think this is the right location, a beautiful place.

  5. Hello Jerry,

    I actually happened to be on set with the entire crew for this particular scene. I was hired out of a private tour group of whom I had met the owner while working at Antelope Point Marina. It was not filmed inbetween the damn and Wahweap marina, however it was fillmed up lake past Padre Butte on the south shore, right on the corner going into Face Canyon. Its tough to actually find the exact spot on google maps as this scene was shot during the summer of 2011, at the peak of the highest waters Lake Powell has seen to date since the “high-water mark” in 1980. This exact location was, of course, on NPS land and in Utah, not Arizona.

    • Thanks! That’s good to know. At least we are in the general vicinity. I’ve had people guess Switzerland!

  6. You’re saying that last scene was filmed in Arizona. Where this idea came from?! I was in cinema yesterday and it wasn’t desert. The landscape was more like Hawaii or other exotic island, not Europe !
    Maybe we can contact with film producers?

    Best Regards
    Max

    • Sorry to disappoint you. It was filmed in the location I have described. The director has confirmed this.

    • Hi, just seen the movie tonight – and I felt certain immediately that the location was one of the Lochs of Scotland. I don’t know anywhere else in the world with those green ‘lumpy’ gnarled mountain shapes – except maybe the Lake District in Northern England.
      If they filmed the scene in Arizona, I believe they superimposed a Scottish backdrop.
      Significantly – the space scenes were shot indoors – in England.
      Search Google Images for Scottish lochs and see what you think?

  7. Anyone know what location that scene is supposed to represent? It obviously isn’t Lake Powell, since they altered it with CG (same as shooting in Vancouver and calling it Vienna)

  8. To people who have never been to Arizona, we do have lakes, mountains, green hills and other non-desert terrains here. Please come visit and see for yourself.

    • Arizona has quite astonishing and varied scenery, as anyone who has ever enjoyed leafing through a copy of “Arizona Highways” can attest!

  9. The ending scene of this movie looked more like Pinar Del Rio , Cuba than anything . We all know how much Hollywood loves Fidel’s big cigar .


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