When Star Wars Came to Death Valley National Park

In 1975, George Lucas, a mob of schoolchildren, and an elephant took over Death Valley to film what would become cinema's most famous sci-fi film. Today, you can follow in their footsteps.

Turns out the world of Star Wars isn’t so far, far away after all: It’s in a national park. Unbeknownst to many fans, scenes from both the original Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977 and Return of the Jedi in 1982 were shot in Death Valley National Park, and many of the filming sites are still accessible to fans today. For the original, producers recruited students from a nearby elementary school to work as extras for the film. Sally Weber, mother of 6-year-old Joe Weber, captured images of the day.