Star Wars may have been based in a galaxy far, far away, but fans don’t have to go quite so far to walk in the footsteps of Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and R2-D2.

By Melissa Locker
December 09, 2015
Rocky landscape at sunset
Credit: Gary Yeowell

When production costs on Star Wars: A New Hope went over budget, the producers headed just five hours from Hollywood to turn Death Valley National Park into Tatooine—home planet of Jawas, sand people, the Skywalker farm, and Jabba the Hutt. The desert landscape worked so well that the crew returned to Death Valley to film some of the most memorable scenes from The Return of the Jedi.

USA, North America, California, Death Valley National Park, Zabriskie Point at sunset
Credit: Alan Copson © 2012

What was once a closed filming location is now open to the public—including guests at Death Valley’s Furnace Creek Resort, who can grab an interactive map from the hotel and take a quick drive to visit some of the sites from the films. Head to Stovepipe Wells area to see the Mesquite Flat sand dunes, which stood in for Tatooine’s Dune Sea in Star Wars. While R2-D2’s and C-3PO’s tracks may be long gone, that just means the Imperial Stormtroopers can’t track you as you make your way to Old Ben Kenobi's hut, located somewhere near Artist’s Drive and Palette in the Black Mountains. Look out for Sand People when you stop to take a picture in Desolation Canyon.

death valley
Credit: National Park Service

While you may not be able to see the town of Mos Eisley from the top of Dante’s View, you will get an eyeful of Death Valley’s incredible landscape. When you’re tired of dodging imaginary Stormtroopers, head back to Furnace Creek to wash off the desert dust in the spring-fed swimming pool, which exactly what some of the actors and film crews from the movies may have done when they stayed at the resort.