The movie “High Plains Drifter” is a classic western film that was released in 1973. It continues to remain popular even after all these years, thanks to its iconic characters and stunning cinematography. One of the reasons why this movie is so memorable is because it was filmed in some truly breathtaking locations. In this article, we explore where “High Plains Drifter” was filmed and how those locations added to the ambiance of the film.

Overview of “High Plains Drifter”

Directed by Clint Eastwood, who also plays the lead role as The Stranger, High Plains Drifter tells the story of a mysterious gunslinger who rides into town and immediately becomes embroiled in local politics. After he saves a small town from three hired gunmen, he becomes their savior only to terrorize them with demands they cannot meet later on. Shot entirely on-location over several weeks, viewers are treated to wide-open landscapes and rugged terrain as backdrop for many scenes throughout this dark drama.

Where Was High Plains Drifter Filmed?

Where Was High Plains Drifter Filmed?

Firstly, it’s essential to note that the filming process for “High Plains Drifter” took place mainly in California USA; however several primary shooting locations contributed heavily towards making this flick stand out as an authentic critique of Western culture. These seven places played major on-screen roles as either central backstory settings’ or hostile environments which shaped characters throughout their journey:

1. Mono Lake – Eastern Sierra Nevada range

Located near Lee Vining town in California state`s eastern sierra nevada range at about six thousand `ft elevation`, Mono lake served as one of principal location sites during creation phases for ‘high plains drifter’. It is here that audiences witness showman’s lifeless body dragged onto shore while survivors rummage around his treasure trove among tufa towers instead saving human life from brackish waters

2.Lake Owenyo dam (aka Hernando pool)

Next up, Clint Eastwood’s studio team filmed large swaths of what would later be referred to as Hernando’s pool at Owens Valley. The hauntingly beautiful terrain dotted with dried up branches and jagged rock formations sets a mysterious yet tense tone in early parts of the movie as it slowly introduces characters into this setting.

3. Lagoon at Big Sur Coast

Amidst rugged coastline along the central part of California lies one region called Big sur coast belonging towards Monterey county borders whereby beaches, mountainsides and cliffs massively abound – these provided backdrop for filming shots featuring eerie ghostly conditions marking clear boundaries amongst life & death realities present within `high plains drifter`.

4. Studio City

One might imagine that most movies set entirely in extreme landscapes are almost always devoid from civilization; but not so for “High Plains Drifter” which utilized a number of scenes situated around `Studio City` found just outside downtown Los Angeles giving audiences first-hand view into city life amidst beautiful rural surroundings.

5.Inyo National Forest – Sonora Pass area

The parched forests between northwestern edge neighbouring Nevada also serve as another significant location used throughout ‘high plains drifter’. This is where we see our cowboy/Outlaw protagonist riding through miles on end while passing deep gulleys overrun by twisted trees and tall rocky cliffs.

6.Hollywood Hills – Griffith Park Star Tower Area

This iconic landmark serves an irreplaceable backdrop located hidden away behind Hollywood Hills amid sprawling Griffith park wilderness situated right above LA Basin level sea highlighted beautifully in some pivotal scenes throughout motion flick ‘High Plains Drifter’.

7.Mammoth Lakes area on US-395 corridor Sierra Nevada mountain range sections looking onto Bishop, CA past Lake Crowley (where the film’s final act was shot).

Finally, In its climactic ending scene wherein main protagonist visits town centre directly seeking revenge following apathetic reactions after revealing needful truth; the show down takes place near some of the most sophisticated landscapes that California has on offer – Mammoth lakes area with backdrop provided by Sierra Nevada mountain ranges and the strikingly beautiful Crowley Lake shrouded in eastern fog just behind.


In conclusion, “High Plains Drifter” is an amazing cinematic creation praised widely for its narrative choice of location settings that stand out as authentic Western backdrops from Mono lake at six thousand ft elevation to Griffith Park Star Tower Area right above LA Basin level. Alongside other major locations used throughout filming; namely Inyo National Forest near Sonora pass area north western edge neighbouring Nevada, Iconic Studio City just outside downtown L.A amidst stunning rural surroundings, Big Sur coast dotted with beaches,towering cliffs,mountainsides & rugged coastline which are captured magnificently enhancing viewing experience altogether. These created an intense atmosphere suitable to this kind of story about ruthless gunfighters chasing gold dust through some truly breath-taking places within ‘High plains drifter’.