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.
Table Of Contents
- The Twilight Zone
- The Yogi Bear Show
- Gentle Ben
- The Lone Ranger
- Daniel Boone
- Lost In Space
- Star Trek & Its Spinoffs
- The Andy Griffith Show
- The Brady Bunch
- Death Valley Days
National Parks In Television Shows
You Are About To Enter Another Dimension | 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 become synonymous with.
A popular and critical success, The Twilight Zone introduced many Americans to science fiction.
Television Was Never The Same After The Twilight Zone
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.”
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
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.
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.
A Park For Superlatives
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.
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.
Check Out Our Death Valley Film | It’s Less Than Four Minutes
In the remote far reaches of the Mojave Desert lies the largest national park in the continental United States. Hidden here in the hottest place on earth is another world full of diverse life and colorful landscapes.
To make this film we spent weeks in California’s (& Nevada’s) Death Valley National Park, mostly in February and March when the temperatures are more manageable. We traversed hundreds of miles hiking most of the parks trails to capture the park like never before.
As the largest park in the contiguous United States, Death Valley is massive – over 3 million acres! We visited destinations like: Eureka Dunes, The Racetrack Playa, Mesquite Dunes, Zabriskie Point, Charcoal Kilns, Aguereberry Point, Badwater Basin, Darwin Falls, and more.
There’s National Parks In The Movies Too!
He’s Smarter Than The Average Bear | Yellowstone National Park
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 on HBO’s Jellystone.
A Fictitious Park Was Yellowstone
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 was 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 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
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
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
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.
Check Out Our Ocala National Forest Film | It’s Less Than Four Minutes
As long as we’re on the subject of Florida there lies a primeval forest teeming with rare birds, alligators, manatees, and jaw-droppingly beautiful natural springs. Join us as we explore the immensely beautiful and underrated Ocala National Forest.
Hi Ho Silver | Zion National Park
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
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.
Tonto Was A Canadian | 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
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 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
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.
There’s Plenty Of Room For Adventure At Zion National Park
Daniel Boone, like The Lone Ranger, had scenes shot 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.
Check Out Our Zion Film | It’s Less Than Four Minutes Too
ZION is the culmination of nearly a month spent exploring Zion National Park during peak fall color. Exquisitely carved by the Virgin River over millions of years, Zion Canyon is one of the most stunning places on earth. But don’t stop there! This park has so much more to offer outside of the main canyon. Golden meadows, sweeping vistas, red rock mountains, towering white temples, and powerful ancient rivers comprise this incredible treasure.
We chose to capture this film in Autumn to showcase the stunning and little known fall color of Zion National Park. Fall is also a time when visitation dies down from peak summer months and one can find more solace in the park.
RELATED: Summer In Zion National Park
Danger, Will Robinson! | Red Rock Canyon State Park
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, however, they’re a pioneering family too.
Unlike those Robinsons, they’re space colonists who struggle to survive on other planets. I guess that you might say they found themselves up a different kind of tree.
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 culprit.
A New Lost In Space | National Parks In Television Shows
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!
Unfortunately, this project never got off the ground.
Poor Old Dr. Smith | National Parks In Television Shows
Jonathan Harris, who portrayed the original Dr. Smith, died before production was set to begin on the new Lost In Space. And, perhaps as a consequence, the concept got lost (in space?) and never came to the small screen.
In 2018, however, Netflix successfully rebooted this iconic series.
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.
The Robinsons Had More Space, But Less Park | National Parks In Television Shows
That planet the Robinsons were stuck on is actually 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.
To create the otherworldly landscape of the planet which the Robinsons were stranded, scenes were filmed at Red Rock Canyon State Park in California. This park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations.
To Boldly Go Where No National Park Has Gone Before | Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park
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.
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.
Far more leg room than that cramped craft which the Robinson Family spent so much time in though the transporter might take a little getting used to.
Like Lost In Space, Star Trek became more popular after its cancellation. It has spawned a huge cult following ever since. 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. Not only that, but he’s the oldest man ever to go into space. Stay tuned to learn more about that . . .
A Park Named After A Notorious Bandit
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?
See if you can figure out which Star Trek episodes were filmed at this park. Spoiler Alert: I’m about to tell you.
The first episode to be filmed at Vasquez was “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. For the legion of Trekkies, this park is the gift that just keeps on giving.
Shatner In Space | His Final Frontier
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 then 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
We’re not done with Vasquez Rocks just yet. 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 the park 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 Rocks 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 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 was offered a substantial pay raise to return for yet another second pilot. Folks, he turned it down. While it may not have been his best career move, it did open the door for another actor who was relatively unknown at the time.
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.
As we now know, the second pilot proved to be the charm for Gene Roddenberry. And the rest, as they say, is history.
A Postscript To Our Story | National Parks In Television Shows
Jeffrey Hunter also tried out for the part of Mike Brady in the mega-hit The Brady Bunch, which we will turn to later. 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.
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)
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
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 remember to obey the law.
Holy Nature Trail, That’s No Ordinary Park | Bronson Canyon
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 below.
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
The series, which would launch a merchandising bonanza, aired on the ABC network. It was 120 episodes in all running 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.
It All Started With Adam West & Burt Ward | National Parks In Television Shows
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 more recently featuring Ben Affleck as part of the “Justice League.”
Even Affleck, however, grew a bit old 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
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.“
Only Three Seasons | National Parks In Television Shows
So, why did such an incredibly popular series end after only three seasons? Remember: Lost In Space and Star Trek also had only a three season run yet both of these shows sparked huge followings, 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
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 that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Batman sets had been destroyed by ABC.
The network simply didn’t want to cover the expense of rebuilding those expensive 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?”
Holy Close Call | Our Dynamic Duo Almost Didn’t Become Our Dynamic Duo
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. Nevertheless, he did manage to end up as Wonder Woman’s sidekick.
And Then There’s The Curious Case Of The Penguin
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)
Griffith Park Is One Of America’s Most Magnificent Parks
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
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
When you think of the great outdoors and the opening of one of the best loved television shows of all time, what comes to mind? Imagine a father and son strolling through the woods with fishing poles in hand. It could be a park. It could be a forest. Actually, it could have been anywhere which celebrates the beauty of nature.
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. There were 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
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.”
The “Fishin’ Hole” | National Parks In Television Shows
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
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.
How many people became enchanted with the great outdoors because of Andy and Opie’s immortal stroll through nature on their way to catch some fish? We’ll never know the answer to that one, but it was arguably one of the most effective promotional devices to get people to spend time in the great outdoors.
More Than Just A Municipal Park
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)
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 however. Family problems are resolved in true Brady fashion. No phasers are used.
“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” | National Parks In Television Shows
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 still 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 just hear Jan saying, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.”
More Popular In Syndication
Like Star Trek, the Brady’s became more popular once they went into syndication. The show ran five seasons from 1969-74 and then went into syndication the following year.
From there it gets interesting. 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
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
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. Reed was actually already under contract with the studio producing the series and that turned out to be the deciding factor as to why he got the role.
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 appeared 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
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 so that’s where we’ll end. So I guess you could say that 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.
One Of The Longest Running Westerns On Television | National Parks In Television Shows
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.
You’ll Never Guess Who Hosted Death Valley Days | National Parks In Television Shows
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.
A National Park In A Leading Role | National Parks In Television Shows
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. 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.
Where Did Costner Draw His Inspiration?
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) will claim Yellowstone.
So perhaps there’s something to be said for giving a national park top billing.
National Parks In Television Shows
- The Twilight Zone (Death Valley National Park)
- The Yogi Bear Show (Jellystone/Yellowstone National Park)
- Gentle Ben (Everglades National Park)
- The Lone Ranger (Zion National Park)
- Daniel Boone (Zion National Park)
- Lost In Space (Red Rock Canyon State Park)
- Star Trek & Its Spinoffs (Vasquez Rocks Natural Park Area)
- CSI (Vasquez Rocks Natural Park Area)
- Batman (Griffith Park)
- The Andy Griffith Show (Franklin Canyon Park)
- The Brady Bunch (Franklin Canyon Park)
- Death Valley Days (Death Valley National Park)
- And Let’s Not Forget Yellowstone (Yellowstone-Who Said That 13 Was An Unlucky Number?)