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Look Familiar? 10+ CLASSIC Television Shows Filmed in the National Parks

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We’re going to unmask which parks played a cameo role in some of our best loved television series | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Looking for the most comprehensive list of national parks in some of our most beloved television shows?

From Andy Griffith to the Brady Bunch to CSI to Star Trek and the Twilight Zone, we’ve got the best of the best!

There’s a connection between our parks and our television shows. In this article, we’ll boldly go where no one has gone before. We’ll take you on a trip down memory lane as we fondly look back at some of these wonderful shows and the parks which made cameo appearances in them.

National Parks In Television Shows Table Of Contents

  1. The Twilight Zone
  2. The Yogi Bear Show
  3. Gentle Ben
  4. The Lone Ranger
  5. Daniel Boone
  6. Lost In Space
  7. Star Trek & Its Spinoffs
  8. CSI
  9. Batman
  10. The Andy Griffith Show
  11. The Brady Bunch
  12. Death Valley Days
  13. Yellowstone

National Parks In Television Shows

You Are About To Enter Another Dimension | Death Valley National Park

Two episode of The Twilight Zone were filmed in Death Valley National Park | National Parks In Television Shows
Two episodes of The Twilight Zone were filmed in Death Valley National Park.

One of our most iconic science fiction television series, The Twilight Zone, has been filmed in one of our most unusual national parks. Let’s begin with the series.

The Twilight Zone was the brainchild of writer Rod Serling. Serling had been a screenwriter, playwright, television producer, and narrator/on-screen host. He’s best known for his live television dramas of the 1950s prior to creating the show he would best be known for.

 A popular and critical success, The Twilight Zone introduced many Americans to science fiction.

Television Was Never The Same After The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone forever changed television | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This show, however, was much more than science fiction. It also included forays into other genres such as comedy, horror, suspense, and the supernatural.

As writer Max Covill notes, “Television was never the same after The Twilight Zone. The seminal classic changed television forever using science-fiction to enlighten audiences towards social justice.”

“There is nothing in the dark that isn’t there when the lights are on.”

-Rod Serling

The Twilight Zone originally appeared on CBS from 1959 to 1964. It included 156 episodes. It was an anthology series which featured a new story and a different cast each week.

These characters found themselves dealing with the strange and the unknown.  They took us along for the ride and what a ride it was.

The Dimension of Imagination | National Parks In Television Shows

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Rod Serling knew that to reckon with human nature was to ricochet between unbearable depths and impossible heights.  | National Parks in Television Shows

The players were always different except for Rod Serling who introduced each episode with narration proclaiming that we were entering “the dimension of imagination.”

Serling viewed writing and storytelling as a political act, adding that it was the duty of writers to discuss socially significant content in their work whenever possible.

“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into… the Twilight Zone.”

-Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone
Rod Serling in The Twilight Zone | Courtesy of CBS

The show went on to win numerous industry awards and wide critical praise during its five-season run. If you haven’t seen it then check it out on Netflix. It’s definitely worth watching.

“The Twilight Zone is famous for its twist endings — its unexpected inversions and ironic moral lessons. In “The Rip Van Winkle Caper,” a clever scientist and his criminal cohorts steal a fortune in gold bars and then, to escape, enter a series of hidden chambers designed to keep them in a state of suspended animation for a hundred years. When they do emerge, after a century of sleep, they eagerly grab their stashed gold — only to discover that the metal, now industrially produced, has virtually no value.”

-Brian Murray, The Enduring Legacy of the Twilight Zone

A Park For Superlatives

Death Valley figures prominently in two episodes of The Twilight Zone | National Parks in Television Shows
Mesquite Flats At Death Valley National Park| National Parks In Television Shows

Death Valley National Park made a cameo appearance in two episodes of The Twilight Zone. They were “The Lonely” (1959) and “I Shot An Arrow Into The Air” (1960). Both episodes featured scenes at Zabriskie Point and Desolation Canyon.

In “The Lonely,” a convict, living alone on an asteroid, receives from the police a realistic woman-robot | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Situated on California’s southeastern border with Nevada, this otherworldly park spans over 5,000 miles of breathtaking vistas. Death Valley is a park for superlatives: hottest place on earth, lowest place in the U.S. and driest place in America.

If you travel there then you may find yourself entering that “dimension of imagination,” which Serling so artfully described.

RELATED: 21+ STUNNING Things To Do In Death Valley National Park

“We’re developing a new citizenry. One that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but won’t be able to think.”

-Rod Serling

There’s National Parks In The Movies Too!

Be sure to check out National Parks in the Movies and learn about 25+ films which had some amazing cameo appearances from our nation’s parks and forests. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Check It Out: Look Familiar? 25+ CLASSIC Movies Filmed In The National Parks

He’s Smarter Than The Average Bear | Yellowstone National Park

Jellystone National Park was based on Yellowstone National Park | National Parks In Television Shows
One of the most popular children’s television shows of the 1960s was about the hijinks of a mischievous, but fun-loving bear named Yogi | National Parks In Television Shows
(Courtesy of Wikimedia)

You’ve probably seen the GEICO TV Commercial, “Yogi Bear Joins the BBQ.” Before he was doing television commercials, however, Yogi was the star of a popular children’s show. For you TV buffs, Yogi made his debut in 1958 as a supporting character in The Huckleberry Hound Show.

Yogi got his own show in 1961. He must have had a good agent. From 1961 until 1991, Yellowstone National Park’s most famous bear (please forgive me, Smokey) appeared in a succession of TV series.

There were eight shows in all. They included: The Yogi Bear Show, Yogi Bear & Friends, Yogi’s Gang, Yogi’s Space Race, Galaxy Goof-Ups, Yogi’s Treasure Hunt, The New Yogi Bear Show, and Yo Yogi. And, if that’s not enough Yogi, you can find Yogi in 2021 on HBO’s Jellystone.

RELATED: 10+ (FASCINATING) Yellowstone National Park Facts You Probably Didn’t Realize

Jellystone National Park was based on Yellowstone National Park | National Parks In Television Shows
Jellystone National Park was based on Yellowstone National Park. Even if it had been called Yellowstone, however, it was still a cartoon so you’ll have to use your imagination when visiting this park as you try to visualize Yogi’s favorite haunts | National Parks In Television Shows

A Fictitious Park Was Yellowstone | National Parks In Television Shows

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Jellystone was inspired by Yellowstone | National Parks in Television Shows

It was a fictitious name and a fictitious park where Yogi’s adventures took place (until he decided to go into outer space). The inspiration for Jellystone was none other than Yellowstone National Park.

The show’s inspired by Yellowstone’s magnificent mountains, fabulous forests, wonderful waterfalls, and gorgeous geysers. There’s a lot there to keep cartoonists busy!

Technically, of course, they didn’t actually film the show at Yellowstone National Park. Since it was a cartoon, they didn’t actually film it anywhere.

Nevertheless, the next time you visit America’s oldest national park, I hope you’ll remember when you were growing up. What was your favorite television show? And did it have a bear?

Now Here’s A Fun Fact | National Parks In Television Shows

Yogi Berra was very unhappy with Yogi Bear | National Parks In Television Shows
Yogi Berra didn’t like being confused with Yogi Bear so he sued Hanna-Barberra Studios | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Yogi Bear was similar to the name of New York Yankees star catcher Yogi Berra. Berra’s known for his famous Yogi-isms such as: “When you come to a fork in the road…. take it.”

“You can observe a lot by just watching.” “I always thought the record would stand until it was broken.” And then there’s my favorite, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Berra sued Hanna-Barberra, creators of Yogi Bear, for defamation. He didn’t like having his name mixed up with Jellystone’s best known bear. The studio claimed the similarity was just coincidental. Berra ultimately withdrew his lawsuit. Way to go, Yogi!

Another Bear, Another Park | Everglades National Park

Gentle Ben was filmed in Everglades National Park | National Parks In Television Shows
Photo of Clint Howard and Bruno the Bear from the television program Gentle Ben. This is from the series premiere | National Parks In Television Shows
(Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Now I know what you’re thinking. Yogi is make believe and so is the park he appeared in. You’re right. I owe you a real bear and a real park. And now you get both!

Gentle Ben is a character who was first created in a 1965 novel by author Walt Morey. This bear, however, was simply too cute and too cuddly to remain on the printed page.

CBS brought Ben to the little screen in 1967 with the television series Gentle Ben. The series aired 58 episodes over two seasons.

Regarding the show’s star, several black bears actually played Ben, depending on what behavior’s required for a particular scene.

Bruno The Bear

In Hollywood, it pays to have a good agent | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The bear with the most screen time, however, was Bruno. I guess he just had a better agent than those other bears. Maybe the same one as Yogi?

Regarding shooting locations, there were quite a few. One of the most beautiful was in the Everglades National Park in Florida. Mark (Clint Howard) was Ben’s best buddy and the son of Tom Wedloe (Dennis Weaver).

Wedloe is a wildlife officer so he often travels the Florida Everglades using an airboat or a jeep.  And you can only imagine the adventures that he, Mark and Ben got themselves into.

RELATED: All 11 Florida National Parks RANKED

Everglades National Park

Gentle Ben was filmed in a variety of spots including Everglades National Park in Florida | National Parks in Television Shows
The Florida Everglades & Everglades National Park was one of the shooting locations for the television series Gentle Ben | National Parks In Television Shows

Everglades National Park is a great place to get into some adventures of your own. It’s located in the southern tip of Florida, just west of the city of Miami. It’s a wonderful place to visit.

While you’re there be sure to check out the legendary River of Grass, which is one of the wonders of the world. But please don’t feed the bears. Or the gators for that matter.

Hi Ho Silver | Zion National Park

The Lone Ranger was filmed in Zion National Park | National Parks In Television Shows
The iconic western television series The Lone Ranger was filmed in Zion National Park | Courtesy of Wikimedia

From 1949 to 1957, The Lone Ranger saddled up on the small screen. It was the highest-rated television program on ABC in the early 1950s. According to the original storyline, a group of six Texas Rangers are ambushed and all six are thought to dead.

Well, as it turns out, one of those six rangers survived. In the hot sun, he managed to crawl to a pool of cool water. He drank the water which saved his life.

This “lone ranger” is discovered by a Native American named Tonto. Tonto buried the five other rangers, one of whom was the survivor’s brother.

Truth, Justice & The American Way

Angels Landing Zion National park
Angels Landing in Zion National Park | National Parks In Television Shows

Of course, the surviving ranger donned a mask and set off in search of truth, justice and the American way. And what better place to do this than in scenic Zion National Park.

Situated in the southwestern corner of Utah near the Nevada and Arizona borders, the spectacular features of this breathtaking park include natural rock arches.

If you’re not too busy chasing desperadoes there’s also hiking, camping, backpacking, climbing and so much more.

RELATED: Spring In Zion National Park: Everything You Need To Know

Tonto Was A Canadian | National Parks In Television Shows

Zion National Park formed the backdrop for The Lone Ranger | National Parks in Television Shows
Magnificent Zion National Park formed the backdrop for the long-running western television series The Lone Ranger | National Parks In Television Shows

On television, the Lone Ranger was played by Clayton Moore. Moore is the only person to have both his name and his character’s name on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Speaking of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Jay Silverheels, who played the Lone Ranger’s faithful sidekick, Tonto, in television and films, was born to a Mohawk chief on the Six Nations Reservation in Brantford, Ontario.

He was a star lacrosse player before moving to Hollywood to work as a stuntman. Silverheels, too, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1979.

A Different Lone Ranger A Different National Park

Johnny Depp appeared with Armie Hammer in the 2013 remake of The Lone Ranger. Check out our National Parks in the Movies to learn more. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Now here’s a fun fact. Fast forward to 2013. The Lone Ranger and Tonto appear on the big screen. In a remake of the classic television series, Armie Hammer portrayed our masked hero and Johnny Depp (yes, I did say Johnny Depp) portrayed his sidekick Tonto.  

The remake was filmed in and around the iconic sites of Monument Valley and Canyonlands National Park.

A Real Boone For Zion | Zion National Park

Daniel Boone was filmed in Zion National Park | National Parks In Television Shows
Photo of Fess Parker as Daniel Boone from the television program Daniel Boone | National Parks In Television Shows (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Daniel Boone was an action-adventure television series which aired on NBC from September 24, 1964, to May 7, 1970. The series ran for 165 episodes.

It depicts the story of Daniel Boone who was an American explorer and frontiersman. Boone became famous for his exploration and settlement of Kentucky.

The legendary Boone had battled the British in the Revolutionary War before heading out to the frontier to do battle with the Native Americans.  

Boone was captured by the Shawnee Tribe in 1778. The resourceful frontiersman managed to escape. He then returned to help defend the Kentucky settlements.

Boone & Crockett Clubs | National Parks In Television Shows

Legendary frontiersman and future president Theodore Roosevelt would found a club named after Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

In the 19th century, another legendary frontiersman and future president, Theodore Roosevelt, along with George Bird Grinnell, founded a series of “Boone & Crockett” clubs named after the legendary frontiersmen Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.

The club is North America’s oldest wildlife and habitat conservation organization, founded in the United States in 1887.

In the television series, Fess Parker portrayed the legendary frontiersman. In the process, he popularized the “Coonskin” cap, which is a hat made out of the skin and fur of a racoon.

As a result of the show’s popularity, coonskin caps became popular among boys in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia in the 1960s.

RELATED: America’s First Environmental Activist

The Coonskin Cap was popularized by the Daniel Boone Show | National Parks In Television Shows
As a result of the popularity of the Daniel Boone series, coonskin caps became popular among boys in the 1960s | National Parks In Television Shows (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

“I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.”

-Daniel Boone

There’s Plenty Of Room For Adventures At Zion National Park

narrows zion national park
Like The Lone Ranger, Daniel Boone was also filmed in Zion National Park | National Parks In Television Shows

Daniel Boone, like The Lone Ranger, had scenes shot in location in Zion National Park. While it doesn’t resemble Kentucky, the wide open spaces of this magnificent national park provide plenty of room for adventures nonetheless.

Travel to Zion and you, too, can follow the paths where native people and pioneers once walked. You can see massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red soaring into a brilliant blue sky.

You can experience the wilderness in a narrow slot canyon just as a frontiersman might have back in the day. Zion has a stunning array of plants and animals. So why not absorb the rich history of the past while enjoying the excitement of your own present day adventures.

RELATED: Summer In Zion National Park

Danger, Will Robinson! | Red Rock Canyon State Park

Lost In Space was filmed in Red Rock Canyon State Park | National Parks In Television Shows
Well, if it isn’t a national park then it should be. The classic science fiction television created by Irwin Allen | Courtesy Of Bill Mumy

Imagine a television series that’s unexpectedly canceled after just three seasons yet manages to exceed all expectations.

Lost In Space, the 1965 series, was inspired by the Swiss Family Robinsons. This show follows a different group of Robinsons. Like their Swiss Family counterparts, they are a pioneering family.

Unlike those Robinsons, they’re space colonists who struggle to survive on other planets.

The show ran for 83 episodes over three seasons. CBS executives failed to offer any reason why Lost in Space was cancelled though the show’s surprisingly high cost ($164,788 per episode) was likely the reason.

Major West: It’s still working. 

John Robinson: What? 

Major West: The hyperdrive. If we can’t go around the Sun, then we go straight through it, using your hyperdrive. 

John Robinson: But, without a hypergate, the exit vector’s random. There’s no telling where we’d come out. 

Major West: Anywhere but here.

Lost In Space

The “Three Season Curse” Claims Yet Another Science Fiction Series | National Parks In Television Shows

Lost In Space wasn’t the only science fiction series to be cancelled after three seasons. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Ironically, there’s another science fiction series which appears during the same time period and gets cancelled after only three seasons. Remember Star Trek? Of course you do!

It became more popular after its cancellation and has spawned a huge cult following. I’ve lost track of how many spinoffs this show has produced.

As a matter of fact, it’s the only science fiction television series to actually feature a real astronaut. And, he’s the oldest man ever to go into space. Stay tuned . . .

A New Lost In Space | National Parks In Television Shows

Suspended animation was supposed to play a part in the ill-fated Lost In Space reboot | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Fast forward to the early 2000s. A new Lost In Space was pitched to NBC. It would have followed a new family complete with a brand new robot.

After fleeing from aliens, these Robinsons run into the original Lost in Space characters played by the original cast members Bill Mumy, June Lockhart, and Jonathan Harris. They’ve been frozen in suspended animation. Talk about chilling out!

Poor Old Dr. Smith | National Parks In Television Shows

Jonathan Harris played the original Dr. Smith | Courtesy of Wikimedia

Jonathan Harris, who plays the original Dr. Smith, dies before production is to begin. And, perhaps as a consequence, the concept gets lost (in space?) and never comes to the small screen.

The third time appears to have been the charm, however, as Netflix, in 2018, finally rebooted the iconic series.

The Third Time’s The Charm

Check out these otherworldly landscapes at California’s Red Rock Canyon State Park | Courtesy of Wikimedia

As Ryan Britt notes in “Lost in Space: Why the Third Time’s the Charm,” In the new Lost in Space, the Robinsons and their fellow stranded colonists aren’t really doing a lot of traveling in space: for nearly 10 full episodes they’re stuck on the same planet.

And, while this seems like a grounding and realistic choice for the more naturalistic Netflix series, it’s actually exactly what happened in the classic series too.

The Robinsons Had More Space, But Less Park | National Parks In Television Shows

Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range. Each tributary canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes and vivid colors. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

To create the otherworldly landscape of the planet which the Robinsons were stranded on, scenes were filmed at Red Rock Canyon State Park in California. This park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations.

It’s located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converges with the El Paso Range. Each canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes and vivid colors, which make for some amazing plot possibilities.

While it isn’t a national park (yet), it’s definitely worth a visit for an experience that’s out of this world. If you go, don’t get lost.

RELATED: 11 (BEST) West Coast National Parks To Visit

To Boldly Go Where No National Park Has Gone Before | Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

The Star Trek franchise filmed 10 episodes in Vasquez Rocks Natural Park | National Parks In Television Shows
Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park was good enough for the crew of the Enterprise.  The area has been used in the filming of numerous Star Trek productions, including at least ten television episodes and two movies.

When we got to the crew of the Jupiter 2, we downsized from a national park to a state park. First the good news. We’re going to upsize from the Robinsons spacecraft to NCC-1701 otherwise known as the Starship Enterprise.

Far more leg room than that cramped craft which the Robinson Family spent so much time in.

Now the bad news. Instead of a national park or a state park, we’re moving down to a county park. If you believe that less is more, however, then there’s something here for everyone.

A Park Named After A Notorious Bandit

In 1874, Tiburcio Vasquez, one of California’s most notorious bandits, used the rocks as Vazquez Park to elude capture by law enforcement.

If you’re a Trekkie this is one trek worth making. Vasquez Rocks is named after a notorious bandit who used the rocky region to elude capture.

Believe it or not, since 1928, nearly two hundred other film and television productions have been shot at Vasquez Rocks, including many westerns. The park was acquired by Los Angeles County in 1970.

Can You Figure Out Which Star Trek Episodes Were Filmed At Vasquez Rocks?

More than one captain landed on Vasquez Rock Natural Area Park | National Parks In Television Shows (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

You could go there and play a game. See if you can figure out which Star Trek episodes were filmed at this park. Spoiler Alert: I’m about to tell you.

The climatic scene in the Star Trek episode (above) titled “The Arena” was filmed at Vazquez Rocks | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The first episode to be partially filmed at Vasquez was the episode “Shore Leave,” which is a favorite with many fans. Then came “Arena” and “The Alternative Factor.”

Next up was “Friday’s Child.” Fast forward twenty years later when Vasquez was used to film parts of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Shatner In Space | His Final Frontier

At the age of 90, William Shatner has boldly gone where no other Star Trek actor, or no actor in any genre for that matter, has gone before–into space. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Over the course of 10 minutes and 17 seconds, Star Trek’s William Shatner and three crewmates took off atop a hydrogen-fueled rocket, climbed to edge of space 65.8 miles up and enjoyed three to four minutes of weightlessness, along with spectacular views of Earth, before plunging back to a gentle parachute-assisted touchdown.

Don’t Forget The Spinoffs | National Parks In Television Shows

Command of the Starship Enterprise would be passed from James T. Kirk (William Shatner) to Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Now it’s on to Star Trek: Voyager, a spin off of the original series. Scenes were filmed at Vasquez to create the barren moon surface for “Initiations.”

Then Vasquez portrayed the Xyrillian homeworld  in the prequal series Star Trek: Enterprise. It was used for the very first episode titled, “Unexpected.”  

But wait, there’s more. Star Trek: Picard also used Vasquez for “Maps and Legends” and “The End Is The Beginning.”

In The Beginning, There Was Captain Pike | National Parks In Television Shows

The original captain of the Starship Enterprise was Christopher Pike portrayed here by actor Jeffrey Hunter | Courtesy of Wikimedia

The original captain of the Starship Enterprise is Christopher Pike (portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter). He appeared in the pilot titled “The Cage.” He’s the guy who’s supposed to play the leading role in the series if NBC gave it the green light.

The pilot was rejected. Undeterred, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry decided to make a second pilot. This one he called “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” And Jeffrey Hunter is offered a substantial pay raise to return for yet another second pilot. He turned it down.

So who would be the new captain the Enterprise?

The space gods were smiling. Canadian actor William Shatner beat out Jack Lord (Hawaii Five-O) and Lloyd Bridges (Sea Hunt, Airplane) for the lead role of Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

For Gene Roddenberry, the second pilot proved to be the charm and the rest, as they say, is history. And that was long before Captain Kirk decided to travel to outer space–for real!

“We prefer to help ourselves. We make mistakes, but we’re human–and maybe that’s the word that best explains us.”

-Captain James T. Kirk

Two Interesting Postscripts To Our Story | National Parks In Television Shows

Did you know that Robert Reed, better known to many of us as Mike Brady, almost didn’t become Mike Brady | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Two postscripts to this story. Jeffrey Hunter also tried out for the part of Mike Brady in the mega-hit “The Brady Bunch.” This time he lost out to Robert Reed.

As for Christopher Pike, he’s the character who refuses to die. Bruce Greenwood portrayed him in the 2009 and 2013 Star Trek films, which were directed by J.J. Abrams.

More Stunts, Less Drama

The Star Trek film franchise would be rebooted with Chris Pine as James T. Kirk | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This second film series is a reboot featuring Chris Pine instead of William Shatner as James T. Kirk (more stunts, less drama).

Were not done with the original Captain of the Enterprise just yet. In the newest Star Trek spinoff, titled Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Captain Christopher Pike (portrayed this time by Anson Mount) is back once again to command the Enterprise.

Who Done It | Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park (Again)

If you prefer crime shows to science fiction than Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is still a place you ought to check out just like CSI’s Gil Grissom (portrayed above by William Petersen) did. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Vasquez is a real sleeper when it comes to hit television series. In addition to Star Trek and its spin offs, it also played host to another hit series. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which ran for fifteen seasons, also used this wonderful location for multiple episodes.

For those of you who prefer crime dramas to science fiction, CSI follows a team of crime-scene investigators, employed by the Las Vegas Police Department, as they use physical evidence to solve murders.

A Perfect Place To Make Someone Disappear

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is a perfect place to make someone disappear. It’s a 932-acre park located in the Sierra Pelona Mountains.  

Needless to say, it’s known for its rock formations, the result of sedimentary layering and later seismic uplift. It’s located near the town of Agua Dulce. You can see it from the Antelope Valley Freeway if you’re driving by.

It’s a great place to visit especially if you love rock formations, but always remind to obey the law.

Holy Nature Trail, That’s No Ordinary Park | Bronson Canyon

Take a closer look at this tunnel. Does it look familiar? Holy Crime Fighter! Why that’s the entrance to the Batcave in the iconic Batman television series. | Courtesy of Mark S. Cramer, Wikimedia Creative Commons

This next park gives “More Than Just Parks” a whole new meaning. Bronson Canyon is located in the southwest section of Griffith Park near the north end of Canyon Drive. Now take a close look at the photo above.

If you’re shaking your head and saying to yourself, “It can’t be,” keep in mind that the filmmakers had to film in a manner which shows the entrance at an angle because, as you can see from the photo, it’s a very short tunnel.

In the case of the Batman television series (1966-68), because this cave actually was a tunnel, it was possible to film the famed Batmobile coming out of there at a high speed. Holy physics lesson!

I Only Wish I’d Kept It | National Parks In Television Shows

Batman launched a merchandising bonanza. I had one of these. I only wish I’d kept it. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

The series, which would launch a merchandising bonanza, aired on the ABC network. It was 120 episodes in all and ran from January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968.

Today you can actually find merchandise inspired by the television series on Etsy, but be prepared to pay top dollar for it.

RELATED: Meet The Real Life Batman & Robin Of The National Parks

It All Started With Adam West & Burt Ward | National Parks In Television Shows

Before Adam West and Burt Ward donned their masks, Batman was a largely forgotten crime-fighting character relegated to D.C. Comics and 1940s serials. These two changed all of that. They made the “caped crusader” part of our popular culture and helped pave the way for one of the most successful film series of all time.
(Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Who doesn’t remember that iconic series starring Adam West and Burt Ward? The enduring success of this series spawned a succession of lucrative film series to follow.

Beginning with Michael Keaton in the 1980s through its “Dark Knight” phase with Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale in the early twenty-first century, and now featuring Ben Affleck as part of the “Justice League,”

Even Affleck, however, grew a bit for the cape so Robert Pattinson has replaced him as our newest caped crusader. Batman has truly become a cultural phenomenon.

Batman Popularized Some Of Gotham City’s Most Famous Villains | National Parks In Television Shows

The Batman Television Series gave us some of our most iconic screen villains | Courtesy of Wikimedia

Would there have been a film series if the television show had not popularized Batman? As Michael Kennedy writes, “The Batman TV show also helped establish what would become Gotham City’s most famous criminals, including The Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and of course, Catwoman.

While its campy and comedic nature is today sometimes the butt of jokes, it’s important to remember just how big a deal the Adam West show was during its run.

This was an age before Batman had dozens of live-action adaptations, and West’s performance helped solidify The Caped Crusader as one of DC’s most iconic superheroes in wider pop culture.

“You can’t get away from Batman that easy!”

-Robin (a.k.a. Burt Ward)

Only Three Seasons | National Parks In Television Shows

Holy Nielsen Ratings, after only three seasons one of America’s favorite television shows came to and end | Courtesy of Wikimedia commons

So, why did such an incredibly popular series end after only three seasons? Remember: Lost In Space and Star Trek also had a three season runs yet sparked a huge following, films, and much, much more after going into syndication.

Like a meteor streaking across the sky, Batman captured our attention like few televisions shows ever have.

But, after sitting on the edge of our seats for two full seasons waiting to see if our caped crusaders could escape from yet another peril, interest began to fall off in season three. I’m wondering if rising blood pressures had something to do with that?

Now Here’s A Fun Fact

Legendary singer Frank Sinatra could have been Batman’s arch-nemesis the Joker. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Now here’s a fun fact. Believe it or not, NBC was ready to pick the show up for yet a fourth season. That was until they discovered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Batman sets had been destroyed.

The network simply didn’t want to cover the expense of rebuilding those sets so they abandoned the project.

Now here’s another fun fact. It’s another famous “what if.” It involves legendary singer Frank Sinatra. He was very interested in playing the role of the Joker in the series, but Caesar Romero had already been signed for the part. Can you imagine the Joker singing “Fly Me To The Moon?” Me neither!

Holy Close Call | Our Dynamic Duo Almost Didn’t Become Our Dynamic Duo

Can you imagine Lyle Waggoner as Batman? It almost happened. Photo courtesy of Greenway Productions / 20th Century Fox Television

There was not one but two screen tests filmed to decide on the casting of Batman and Robin in the classic 1966 TV series. One featured Adam West and Burt Ward. The other featured Lyle Waggoner and Peter R.J. Deyell.

Waggoner lost the role to West. He did manage to end up as Wonder Woman’s sidekick however.

And Then There’s The Curious Case Of The Penguin

Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy were both offered the role of the Penguin. Both turned it down though Tracy had an interesting proposal for the show’s producer. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

And while we’re on the subject of what might have been, two actors who could have played Batman’s arch-nemesis the Penguin, but turned the role down, were none other than Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy.

While Mickey Rooney turned down the role outright, Spencer Tracy is a more interesting story. He would only do it if he could kill Batman. “…I got a letter from William Dozier, saying perhaps I had some grandchildren who would be thrilled to have me do a cameo in Batman,” Tracy recalled.

“My reply cited what Maggie Sullivan said when she was offered an Andy Hardy family picture. She said, ‘I’ll do it when it is titled ‘Death Comes to Andy Hardy.’ I’ll do a Batman when it’s called ‘Death Comes to Batman.'”  (Source: MeTV, 12 actors who almost played superheroes and villains on TV)

The Joker (portrayed by Caesar Romero) and Penguin (portrayed by Burgess Meredith) are two of the fans all-time favorite Batman villains so it’s all’s well that ends well when it comes to the show’s casting decisions. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Griffith Park Is One Of America’s Most Magnificent Parks

Griffith Park offers a truly stunning panorama of sights. Travel the scenic road from the observatory up to Mt. Hollywood in Griffith Park and you’ll be treated to a truly breathtaking ride. As you do, be sure to look west towards Mt. Lee and the famous Hollywood Sign.
(Courtesy of Wikimedia)

As for Griffith Park, it truly is more than just a park. It includes over 4,210 acres of both natural covered terrain and landscaped parkland and picnic areas. Located at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, it’s truly a breathtaking landscape.

Griffith Park is one of the largest municipal parks with urban wilderness areas in the United States.

The California native plants represented in the park include the California species of oak, walnut, lilac, mountain mahagony, sages, toyon, and sumac. Present, in small quantities, are the threatened species of manzanita and berberis.

Check Out The Griffith Park Observatory For A Different Type Of Star Gazing

While visiting Griffith Park, why not check out its famed observatory too | Courtesy of Wikimedia

If you like to gaze at the stars (not the Hollywood ones) then you can also visit the Griffith Park Observatory. The famed observatory sits on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood.

And, Griffith J. Griffith, the benefactor who the observatory is named after, insisted that admission be free to any and all who wished to come.

A Most Iconic Opening | Franklin Canyon Park

Does this look familiar? Perhaps it might if it were in black and white and you saw a certain father and son out for a walk with their fishing poles | National Parks In Television Shows (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

When you think of the great outdoors and the opening of one of the best television shows of all time, what comes to mind? Imagine a stroll through the woods. It could be a park. It could be a forest. Actually, it could have been anywhere which celebrates the beauty of nature.

I don’t know about you, but what I think of is a father and his son strolling through a beautiful wooded setting with fishing poles in hand. Now you know what show I’m talking about!

The Andy Griffith Show was one of the greatest situation comedies of all time. It aired on CBS from October 3, 1960, to April 1, 1968, with a total of 249 half-hour episodes spanning eight seasons—159 in black and white and 90 in color. 

Mayberry Was A Special Place | National Parks In Television Shows

America’s best loved sheriff and deputy sheriff. Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) and Barney Fife (Don Knotts). | National Parks In Television Shows (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

The show actually premiered as a segment on the popular Danny Thomas Show in 1960. How many of you remember Danny Thomas? How about Andy Griffith?

As Martha Waggoner writes, “Andy Griffith’s legacy was an endearing small town called Mayberry which had a sheriff whose homespun wisdom and generous heart spoke to the angels of our better nature.

Griffith’s Mayberry is a place where the sheriff doesn’t carry a gun, the local drunk locks himself in jail and even the villains who pass through are changed by their stay.”

“While most of us never had a chance to meet Andy Griffith, he was still someone we felt like we already knew. And Mayberry, N.C., is that perfect small town that we all dream of living in.

It was a town where few grew up but many wished they did. Life was simpler in Mayberry. It was a special place. A place where we could all go to escape our real-life worries and problems.”

-Andy Griffith: A lasting legacy with timeless values, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

The “Fishin’ Hole” | National Parks In Television Shows

How many fathers and sons were inspired to pick up a pole and go down to the fishing hole by watching Andy and Opie? | National Parks In Television Shows (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The show was filmed at Desilu Studios, with exteriors filmed at Forty Acres in Culver City, California. Woodsy locales were filmed north of Beverly Hills at Franklin Canyon, including the opening credits and closing credits with Andy and Opie walking to and from “the fishin’ hole”.

We Put Them Where We Wanted To Be | National Parks In Television Shows

Publicity photo of Andy Griffith and Ron Howard from the television program The Andy Griffith Show. The photo was to remind people when the show would return to the air with new episodes and to be careful driving because it was now school time. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

There were no national parks or national forests used in this show. Nevertheless, the iconic opening and closing credits showed a father and son going to and departing from their favorite fishing spot. It spoke to millions of Americans.

It could have been anywhere and we still would have loved it. We put the characters where we wanted to be.

How many people became enchanted with the great outdoors because of Andy and Opie’s immortal stroll through nature? We’ll never know the answer to that one, but it was arguably one of the most effective promotional devices to get people to visit the great outdoors.

More Than Just A Municipal Park

It could have been anywhere. It happened to be Franklin Canyon Park. Pictured above are Claudette Colbert & Clark Gable from the film It Happened One Night. Colbert is trying to hitch a ride in Franklin Canyon National Park. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

Franklin Canyon Park is a public municipal park located near Benedict Canyon, at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles. How many people actually knew that? Or, more importantly, does it even matter?

While it could have been anywhere it’s wherever you want it to be. So, on your next day off, why not put up your own “Going Fishing” sign and stroll over to Franklin Canyon Park.

There’s A Story | Franklin Canyon Park (Again)

On their first season together, The Brady Bunch went camping in Franklin Canyon Park. I wonder if they invited Andy & Opie? | Courtesy of Wikimedia

Andy and Opie weren’t the only ones going to Franklin Canyon Park. In the first season of what became a five-year run, The Brady Bunch went camping there.

As a matter of fact, the episode is called “A-Camping We Will Go,” as the newly blended family goes on a camping trip together.

When a dad with three sons marries a mom with three daughters, of course there’s going to be male vs. female conflict. Mike Brady is not Christopher Pike. Family problems are resolved in true Brady fashion. No phasers are used on the set.

“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” | National Parks In Television Shows

Photo of football player Joe Namath and Mike Lookinland (Bobby) from the television program The Brady Bunch. When Bobby brags to his friends that he knows Joe Namath personally, he has to find a way to prove what he’s been saying. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Brady Bunch went camping in Franklin Canyon Park.  In the 50 years since things haven’t changed much. That’s what’s so wonderful! You can go on a hike on its five miles of trails or enjoy the large picnic area.

While you’re out there, imagine what it was like for that Brady Bunch. I can hear Jan saying, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.”

More Popular In Syndication

Those incredibly talented Bradys even appeared on HGTV to build a replica of their iconic family home. Is there anything they can’t do? |Courtesy of Wikimedia

Like Star Trek, the Brady’s became more popular once they went into syndication. The show ran five seasons from 1969-74 and went into syndication the following year.

From there, it we’ve got The Brady Bunch Hour (1976-77), The Brady Girls Get Married (1981), The Brady Brides (1981), A Very Brady Christmas (1988) and The Bradys (1990).

But wait, there’s more. In 1995, the series came to the big screen with The Brady Bunch Movie followed by a Very Brady Sequel in 1996. In a second sequel, which aired on Fox in 2002, The Brady Bunch travelled to the White House.

America’s Just Gone Brady-Crazy | National Parks In Television Shows

Photo of Mike Lookinland (Bobby) and Christopher Knight (Peter) from the television program The Brady Bunch. Bobby is trying out a dunk tank Peter has built for the school carnival. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s face it, America’s just gone “Brady-crazy.” And there’s nothing that these kids (now adults) can’t do. In 2019, they let their powers combine once again for a Very Brady Renovation on HGTV.

The Brady children worked with the Property Brothers and other HGTV stars to build a real Brady house just like the one which appeared on the television series.

Only in this case, it has all of the things contained in the original house plus much more. Is there anything these talented Bradys can’t do?

Here’s Some Brady Fun Facts | National Parks In Television Shows

Here’s Gene Hackman toting a shotgun with Warren Beatty & Faye Dunaway in Bonnie & Clyde. He almost became the Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch. Well, one thing’s for sure, I don’t think he would have had any discipline problems. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Believe it or not, Jeffrey Hunter was not the only one up for the part of Mike Brady. The guy who thought he had the inside track for the job was none other than Gene Hackman.

This academy award winner lost out to Robert Reed and the rest, as they say, is history. Robert Reed was already under contract with the studio producing the series and that turned out to be the deciding factor as to why he got the part.

Comedic actress Joyce Bulifant was originally envisioned to play the role of Carol Brady. Instead, she went on to play Gavin MacLeod’s wife on the highly successful Mary Tyler Moore Show. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Florence Almost Didn’t Get It Either | National Parks In Television Shows

Florence Henderson, who played Carol Brady, actually wasn’t the first choice to play the part. Comedic actress Joyce Bulifant appears in most of the screen tests with various child actors for their auditions.

One of the reasons Eve Plumb landed the part of Jan was because of her physical resemblance to Bulifant. She lost out to Florence Henderson, but ended up as Gavin MacLeod’s wife on the enormously popular Mary Tyler Moore Show.

One final fun fact. If you watched A Very Brady Renovation then you learned that, in the actual television series, the six Brady kids shared a bathroom with no toilet. Talk about disciplined acting!

The Park Which Inspired A Television Show | Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park inspired a television series titled, Death Valley Days.” Pictured above are three of the actors who appeared in that series including a very young James Caan on the left. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

How many national parks have their own television series? Death Valley did! Death Valley Days was first a series on the radio before being adapted for television. It was an anthology series featuring true accounts of the Old American West.

We began with Death Valley. That’s where we’ll end. So I guess you could say the end is the beginning. And the beginning is the end.

The show was created in 1930 by Ruth Woodman. The original inspiration was the group of prospectors who perished in the real Death Valley. Little did anyone realize the show would turn out to be one of the most popular westerns on television.

RELATED: 10+ (FASCINATING) Death Valley National Park Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

One Of The Longest Running Westerns On Television | National Parks In Television Shows

Photo of actor Jim Davis (later Jock Ewing on Dallas) from an episode of Death Valley Days | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The program broadcast on radio until 1945. It came to television in 1952 and ran until 1970. The show continued in syndication until August 1, 1975. This made Death Valley Days one of the longest running western television programs in history.

The show’s sponsor was the Pacific Borax Company. The company was famous for its “20 Mule Team Borax” slogan which was the brainchild of its advertising manager Stephen Mather.

This is the same Stephen Mather who would go on to become the first director of the National Park System.

RELATED: Meet The Real Life Batman & Robin Of The National Parks

Pacific Coast Borax Works Lobbied For Protected Status | National Parks In Television Shows

Stephen Mather was an advertising manager for the company which sponsored Death Valley Days before becoming the first director of the National Park Service.
(Courtesy of Wikimedia)

The company which sponsored Death Valley Days, Pacific Coast Borax, was the same company which lobbied the National Park Service to preserve and protect the area’s natural resources. How interesting.

You’ll Never Guess Who Hosted Death Valley Days | National Parks In Television Shows

A future President of the United States was one of the hosts on Death Valley Days | National Parks In Television Shows (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Death Valley Days stories were introduced by the show’s host. During its long run, the series had several hosts including: Stanley Andrews (1952-64), Ronald Reagan (1964-65), Rosemary DeCamp (1965), Robert Taylor (1966-69) and Dale Robertson (1969-70).

That’s right! The series was hosted by a future President of the United States–Ronald Reagan.

This long-running series spanned 452 episodes. Compare that with 456 episodes for the ever-popular crime series Law & Order, which is still in syndication today. This gives you some idea of just how popular it was even though you probably never heard of it.

Death Valley Days was as popular in its day as Law & Order is today | National Parks In Television Shows (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

There Was Only One “Old Ranger” | National Parks In Television Shows

Stanley Andrews was the original host of Death Valley Days. He played a character known as the “Old Ranger.” All subsequent hosts played themselves on the show. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Both of these long-running series were based on true stories. In the case of Death Valley Days, Stanley Andrews, the original host, portrayed a fictional character named the “Old Ranger.” He introduced each of the episodes.

The format is so popular that, after Andrews leaves the show, he’s replaced by a series of successors.

For Death Valley Days fans, however, there’s only one “Old Ranger” so each of Andrews successors as host introduced episodes under their real names rather than portraying a fictional character.

“Politics is just like show business. You have a hell of an opening. You coast for a while. You have a hell of a closing.”

-Ronald Reagan

A National Park In A Leading Role | National Parks In Television Shows

yellowstone national park, landscape, sunrise-2946040.jpg
With Yellowstone, Kevin Costner has made a national park a television star and I say it’s about time | Courtesy of Paramount

For many years, national parks have been a bit player on the small screen. That was until Kevin Costner decided to give them their big break. Did the Field of Dreams star have a little voice whispering in his ear, “If you make it Yellowstone will star?”

Well, ladies and gentlemen, he made it and they’re the star of the show. Kevin Costner turned to history and produced Yellowstone. It’s a classic western drama starring Costner as John Dutton. Dutton is a Montana rancher struggling to keep his land from the bankers, real estate speculators, and activists who want to take it from him.

But, if you ask me, the real star of this show is the title character. Or, should I say the character who appears in the title? Either way, it’s Yellowstone and every one knows it! No more parks masquerading as alien worlds or simply too unimportant to appear in the credits.

“John Dutton’s enemies aren’t just generic baddies who want what he’s got—if they were, he wouldn’t care so much if they beat him. The battles on Yellowstone are about the idea that one way of living is just better than the others.

To be a rancher, or even better a cowboy, a real cowboy, is a purer, more authentic, better life. And it’s no coincidence that this show about the painful anxiety of that life being taken away is, in its third season, one of the most-watched dramas on cable.” 

-Jason Hellerman, How Did ‘Yellowstone’ Become One of the Most-Watched Dramas on Cable?

Where Did Costner Draw His Inspiration?

File:Yellowstone (Kevin Costner) John Dutton (Vest) Jacket.jpg
Yellowstone has catapulted America’s national parks into a starring role on one of the most successful television dramas | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

According to Kieran Fisher, Costner drew inspiration from the numerous real-life ranchers who populate the annals of American history. Fisher writes:

“Yellowstone is based in Montana, and that state is home to famous ranchers as well. Bill Galt owns the 248-acre Galt Ranch, and he’s been hailed as America’s last true cowboy. In that sense, he and John Dutton aren’t much different from each other.

“It’s also worth mentioning that Yellowstone is filmed on a Montana ranch, though it’s not the same park that the show is named after.” (Source: Kieran Fisher, Here’s How Kevin Costner Built His Character On Yellowstone)

Yellowstone has become one of the most-watched television dramas on cable. Through the first three seasons, the show Yellowstone appeared in the Top 10 movies and TV shows. The show is massively successful so there was no danger that the “three season curse,” (think Batman, Lost In Space & Star Trek) would claim Yellowstone.

So perhaps there’s something to be said for giving a national park a starring television role.

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Happy Trails To You | Till We Meet Again

National Parks In Television Shows

  1. The Twilight Zone (Death Valley National Park)
  2. The Yogi Bear Show (Jellystone/Yellowstone National Park)
  3. Gentle Ben (Everglades National Park)
  4. The Lone Ranger (Zion National Park)
  5. Daniel Boone (Zion National Park)
  6. Lost In Space (Red Rock Canyon State Park)
  7. Star Trek & Its Spinoffs (Vasquez Rocks Natural Park Area)
  8. CSI (Vasquez Rocks Natural Park Area)
  9. Batman (Griffith Park)
  10. The Andy Griffith Show (Franklin Canyon Park)
  11. The Brady Bunch (Franklin Canyon Park)
  12. Death Valley Days (Death Valley National Park)
  13. And Let’s Not Forget Yellowstone (Yellowstone-Who Said That 13 Was An Unlucky Number?)

Tony Pattiz

Tony Pattiz is a retired history teacher currently researching and writing articles for More Than Just Parks.

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