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This Is Where Pale Rider Was Actually Filmed

Following the release of "Heaven's Gate" in 1980 — Michael Cimino's bloated, much-maligned follow-up to "The Deer Hunter" — Hollywood understandably went cold on Westerns for a while. Thankfully, the genre's greatest champion, Clint Eastwood, was there to reinstate the Western's critical and commercial capabilities with his 1985 film "Pale Rider." 

The film marked over 25 years of Eastwood's association with the American West, having starred in the 1959 TV Western "Rawhide" even before his many '60s collaborations with Sergio Leone. Indeed, many years of Eastwood's career are marked by iconic Westerns, ranging from 1966's "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," 1976's "The Outlaw Josey Wales," and 1992's "Unforgiven."

1985's "Pale Rider" falls in between the latter two aforementioned westerns and is best remembered as one of the highest-grossing Westerns of the '80s (via Box Office Mojo). The film details the ruthless behavior of a wealthy mining baron's thuggish henchmen towards the small-town miners and their families. When an enigmatic man known as Preacher (Eastwood) arrives in town to protect the prospectors, he finds himself in the middle of an ugly feud.

In its exploration of hydraulic mining and land ownership, "Pale Rider" is the Eastwood film that most closely looks at the ecological consequences of corporate greed. It was crucial, therefore, to shoot "Pale Rider" in a landscape that best exemplified the simultaneous expanse and fragility of the American West. Here's where Eastwood filmed his '80s Western classic.

Pale Rider was filmed in Idaho and California

According to the story, the events of "Pale Rider" take place just outside of LaHood, California, a fictional mining town surrounded by snow-capped mountains. However, most of the filming actually occurred in the vicinity of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in Central Idaho, just north of the resort town Sun Valley. Much of the scenery, shot in 1984, features the jagged, unforgiving Sawtooth Mountains, as well as the White Clouds Wilderness and the Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness areas (via The Clint Eastwood Archive).

Other integral scenes in "Pale Rider" were filmed in central California in the shadow of the Sierra Nevadas. Train station scenes were shot around Jamestown, and feature the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, which also famously appeared in 1952's "High Noon." The sequence that takes place in a Wells Fargo office was filmed in Columbia, California, also located in Tuolumne County (via Movie-Locations). A real-life Gold Rush town founded in 1850, Columbia can also be seen in "High Noon." For all the references to classic Westerns, it's clear that Eastwood strived to showcase the mountains themselves, which serve as the thematic and geographical backdrop to "Pale Rider."