Travel to a galaxy far, far away
Wayward Nerd’s guide to experiencing Tatooine right here on earth...in Death Valley National Park, CA
There is probably not a single Star Wars fan alive that hasn’t dreamt of traveling to the distant galaxy. George Lucas transported us there through the triologies. You can recreate the experience by visiting the filming locations in Death Valley National Park, including the Mos Eisley Overlook where Obi-Wan warns Luke, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.” R2D2’s solo journey through the beautiful canyon where he is captured by the Jawas is not to be missed. This itinerary focuses on these two main filming locations, both of which are easily accessible by car with very little hiking required, and primarily handicap accessible. While not difficult, keep in mind that this is the desert and plan accordingly.
Before you go, take a few tips. First, rewatch “Star Wars: A New Hope” and take screen shots of the locations. Plan out your wardrobe if you want to completely recreate the scenes or just pack a pocket R2 unit. Go over the top and load the Star Wars soundtrack onto your phone for complete transportation to Tatooine. Paper maps of the area are highly recommended especially the Death Valley National Park map (free at the park). Do not forget to pack a camera with video capabilities, a cooler, snacks and beverages. Remember, it’s a desert.
From Las Vegas
Although Death Valley National Park is in California, Las Vegas is a perfect place to begin the journey. Maybe, just maybe, George Lucas was thinking of Las Vegas when writing that famous line. Perhaps? Still, Las Vegas has much to offer as a jumping off point. From Las Vegas, travel to Death Valley via I-15 to US-95, then NV-37/CA-127. Most of the drive consists of a smooth, two-lane highway. The trip to the park entrance is approximately two hours.
The Area 51 Alien Center (truck stop) at Jct US-95 and NV-373 is a good place to stop for a bathroom break.
Death Valley National Park
Purchase your day pass at the self-service kiosk or buy a National Park Annual Pass before arriving. You’ll save an hour by going to the Mos Eisley Valley Overlook (Dante’s View) first before the Visitor Center. A few things to keep in mind at the park.
Parts of the area have no cellphone service, don’t rely solely on devices
It gets dark in Death Valley after sunset, as in pitch black. Plan accordingly, a flashlight may be needed to find your car!
Mos Eisley Valley Overlook
N 36º 13.244’ W116º 43.598’
Truly breathtaking. A pivotal moment in the film as Luke Skywalker is beginning his hero’s journey, Obi-Wan Kenobi stands overlooking this view, and gives his famous warning to him.
N 36º 27.70’ W116º 52.00’
Furnace Creek is the location of the main visitor center. A few dining options and picnic tables are available.
N 36º 21.815’ W 116º 48.169’
This is the canyon where we see R2-D2 as he makes his way solo before being taken by the Jawas. The viewing area is just steps from the north side of the parking lot. For handicap accessibility, note that while the parking area is paved, the viewing area is gravel. The Sandcrawler Station scene is Artist’s Drive looking west.
Sunset at Furnace Creek Inn
N 36º 27.70’ W116º 52.00’
At the end of the day, stop for a cool drink (and bathroom break) and watch the sun set on your day on Tatooine. Furnace Creek Inn sits atop a hill above Furnace Creek.
Add a night
There is a lot to see in Death Valley and many more filming locations. For a longer trip, stay overnight in Death Valley, stargaze in the evenings and visit additional filming locations the next day such as: Road to Jabba’s Palace, Landspeeder Road, Jawas Crevasse, Bantha Canyon, and Artoo’s Dunes.
Nerd-Out in Vegas
There’s still more to do in Las Vegas after soaking up all the Star Wars locations the desert has to offer.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
A great picturesque morning trip to the western edge of Las Vegas. There are areas that overlook Las Vegas. It makes you ponder where George may have came up with that line. Las Vegas in the 1970s must have seemed like a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Where the Streets Have Star Wars Names
Southwest of I-515 and Tropicana Avenue in Las Vegas, you will find Star Wars street names. Look for: Lucas Avenue, Skywalker Avenue, Tarkin Avenue, Vader Avenue, Kinobe Avenue, and Leia Street.
A vintage toy store in the Fremont Street Experience. Shop for the vintage Star Wars toy to take home as a souvenir.
Ready to go? Download a complete one-page itinerary.