When the world-famous Old Tucson Movie Studio was set ablaze by arson in 1995, the backdrop for some of Hollywood's greatest movies went up in smoke. Favorites films such as Rio Bravo, Gunfight at the OK Corral, The Three Amigos , and more recently, Tombstone with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, were filmed there. The television series High Chaparral made its home at Old Tucson, as well as episodes of Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie and countless TV commercials.
Without our even being aware of it, most of us have been screen-visitors to this now historic landmark many times. If you have seen a John Wayne movie, you have probably been to Old Tucson.
Built in 1939 for the movie Arizona, the studio was opened to the public in 1960. It soon grew into a park where visitors could not only get a taste of the Old West, but could learn how movies were made and see props and visit locations that would evoke fond memories of some of their favorite western stars and movies.
But when fire swept through the park in 1995, it was a challenge to restore what was priceless to movie buffs around the world. Old Tucson responded to that challenge and 18 months after the devastating blaze that destroyed nearly 40% of the buildings, the park reopened.
Now, nearly 3 years later, Old Tucson is again alive and kicking, rebuilt with a new philosophy and direction. The famous soundstage and the 10,000 square-foot wardrobe and prop collections are sadly gone forever, but there is a new Old Tucson and it is well worth the visit. Come and see what Old Tucson looks like today.
Old Tucson Studios is a visit to the Old West --well, Hollywood's version of it anyway, and that's the Old West that we know and love. It is located in Tucson Mountain Park, just west of the beautiful city of Tucson. The Tucson Mountains form a barrier between today and yesterday, so as you look east towards Tucson, you see only the Sonoran Desert.
Tucson Mountain Park borders Saguaro National Park, so enjoy the beautiful drive through the lush and picturesque Sonoran Desert backdrop. Saguaros are the cactus that are generally thought of when one says "Arizona," because typically, they are the ones seen most in western movies. Not a coincidence, since over 300 westerns have been filmed right here at Old Tucson Studios! That image of the West came from this very place.
Since the fire 3 years ago, 16 new buildings have gone up to replace what was destroyed. The Grand Palace Hotel and Saloon is now a 450-seat opera house! The park is concentrating on first-class, live entertainment and concerts, so even local Tucson residents have reason to visit more often now instead of only visiting when relatives come to town.
Old Tucson is concentrating on living history as well. The Old West comes alive with action-packed gunfights in the streets throughout the day and saloon girls waving their kerchiefs to the passersby. There are 6 new attractions including trail rides and stagecoach rides. And there is now a western-history educational program focusing on Arizona's pioneers, including Native Americans.
There are new exhibits and shows all the time, so even if you have visited Old Tucson in the last couple of years it is time to visit again.
Restaurants & Shopping
There are three restaurants at Old Tucson Studios, an ice cream parlor, a sweet shop and a cantina. And of course, there is plenty of opportunity to purchase Hollywood, movie star, Old West, and Native American memorabilia and souvenirs. You ought to be in pictures! Bring your cameras!
Hours & Admission
There is a fee for visting the Studios which is open from 10 AM - 4 PM.
For more information click here.
Old Tucson Studios is accessible to handicapped visitors with special needs and handicapped parking is available. Wheelchairs are available for a small fee. Keep in mind that, as a western town, the streets themselves are dirt and sand.
Parking is FREE. Special areas for recreational vehicles are provided.
Leashed pets are welcome! Families may carry picnic baskets (excluding alcoholic beverages) and enjoy their meal at any of the shaded picnic areas inside the park.
Old Tucson Studios is located in Tucson Mountain Park, 201 S. Kinney Road. Take Interstate 10, exit Speedway Boulevard (west) and follow the signs. Due to road restrictions in Tucson Mountain Park, recreational vehicles should travel I-10 to I-19 south, exit Ajo Way (west) to Kinney Road and follow the signs.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Saguaro National Park