Tunisia (Tatooine) and outer space are on my list of future travel destinations, inspired by a childhood obsession with Star Wars that continues to fuel my sense of adventure today. Until I get there, here are some places where Jedi-wannabes can feel like we are traveling in a galaxy far, far away…
Several scenes of Tatooine were actually filmed in Death Valley National Park, including where Luke encounters Obi-Wan Kenobi. Far from being a wretched hive of scum and villainy, Death Valley is spectacularly gorgeous. Golden Canyon, which we hiked from Zabreski Point to Red Cathedral, and down to the second trail head (we hiked one-way only) is the place where R2-D2 encounters Jawas. Death Valley is also home to an amazing salt flat called Badwater Basin. The actual showdown between Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren was filmed in Bolivia, but Badwater Basin is worth the trip.
Also reminiscent of the Jawa nooks and crannies were the rocks along Todra Gorge in Morocco, where a leisurely stroll is much less stressful than R2’s journey. Morocco also provides entre into the Sahara desert via Merzouga. It’s NOT where other parts of Tatooine were filmed, but it’s just as other-worldly as Tatooine seems to be – miles and miles of wind swept sand dunes and monochrome colored vistas.
Cold, glorious snow! I’d be inclined to visit snowy places even if I wasn’t a Star Wars fan. And while Antarctica seems like it would be very Hoth-like, Alaska is actually my pick for a Hoth landscape visit. Similar to the actual film location in Norway, my recommendation is within fjords, but you can enjoy this frozen landscape in the summer! It’s ridiculously expensive, but is still my all-time favorite travel experience. From the town of Seward I took a helicopter ride to a glacier, where a team of dogs and mushers greeted me. Then we took a dog sled ride on the glacier. I even rode on the back of the sled, manuevering through the snow and launching another set of fantasies about racing in the Iditarod.
The actual filming location is elsewhere in Northern California, but a visit to Yosemite gave me my forest moon fix. The Mariposa Grove is home to many giant sequoias, including the famous California Tunnel Tree. You simply must continue on the trail past that tree. It is crowded and noisy until that point, but my aunt and I continued onto the Wawona Fallen Tree and saw practically no other people on the trail. In fact, it was closer to the Wawona tree that the scenery felt much more Endor-like.
Why anyone not looking for a Jedi master would venture to such a place is beyond me. But visit a swamp I must. The Okefenokee Swamp along the Florida, Georgia border looked nothing like Dagobah on the bright, sunny day that I visited. But it’s among the largest and most famous swamps in the United States, so I used my imagination and checked Dagobah off my list.
Finally, until I get to actual space, driving through a snowstorm is probably the closest I’ll get to hyperspace, and while I’ll never pilot the Millennium Falcon, I did get to be the Chewbacca to my Dad’s Han Solo in the cockpit of a Beechcraft Bonanza:
May the force be with your travels!