CATEGORIES On the Scene
It's one of the most iconic scenes in movie history: On-the-lam BFFs Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) racing away from the police and, more importantly, away from their former lives, and plunging their '66 Thunderbird right down into the Grand Canyon.
Except it wasn't the Grand Canyon in 'Thelma & Louise' ...
Location as Character: Standing in for the Grand Canyon: Dead Horse Point State Park, near Moab, UT.
Thelma and Louise initially embarked on a girls' weekend away from home (and Thelma's controlling husband Darryl, played by Christopher McDonald), but their trip quickly turned into a crime spree after Louise shot and killed a man who was trying to rape Thelma in the parking lot of a bar.
An encounter with sexy drifter J.D. (Brad Pitt, who beat out George Clooney, Alec Baldwin, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon, among others, for the role) -- who stole all their money -- a robbery, stealing a cop's gun and blowing an obnoxious truck driver's truck later, Thelma and Louise are on the run from the FBI, who trail them to the cliffs of the Canyonlands in Utah. With the Colorado River 2,000 feet below, the pals make a suicide pact -- crashing into the river beats jail -- and Louise floors the accelerator of her Thunderbird convertible as they speed off the edge of the cliff. The end credits begin with the car frozen in the air as it flies off the ground and towards the river below.
To see an alternate, longer version of the ending, where the car actually plunges into the canyon (with a distractingly peppy B.B. King song accompanying it), check out the special DVD of the movie. Or look at the clip below:
Historical Significance: The legend behind how Dead Horse Point got its name is both literal and sad. The story goes that cowboys corralled wild horses into the Point, which served as a natural corral, and then chose the ones they wanted to keep. But on one occasion, which no one can explain, horses were left on a portion of the Point where there's no water, and they died of thirst, hence Dead Horse Point (apparently "Jackass Cowboy Point" didn't occur to anyone).
Fun Fact: Among the other movies filmed in the Moab area: 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,' 'Breakdown,' 'City Slickers II,' 'Con Air,' 'Galaxy Quest' and the upcoming James Franco drama '127 Hours.'
Directions: Dead Horse Point State Park is located on State Route 313, 18 miles off Highway 191, and about 30 miles southwest of Moab, Utah. To reach the area, drive north from Moab on 191, for about nine miles. At the Dead Horse Point State Park, turn left onto SR 313. Caution: you'll drive a series of hairpin curves, and then, at about 14.5 miles from the point you turned onto SR 313, a left fork in the road leads to Dead Horse State Park.
Visitor's Info: The Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway, on Utah Highway 313, takes about two hours to drive and passes through about 35 miles of red rock canyons. Dead Horse Point is open every day from 6AM to 10PM, and the visitor center/museum is open from 8AM to 5PM. The area includes a campground that's open year-round, nearly a dozen miles of hiking trails, a nature walk and picnic areas. Camping reservations for the park can be made at the Utah state parks Website, which also includes a list of daily activities at the park. MAJOR TIP: Take water with you ... all water has to be trucked into Dead Horse Park.