In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Death Valley in California was a Lucasfilm location scouts dream. Not only did it double for multiple Tatooine locations in A New Hope, it was also used in a key scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark (which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year) and SF Gate reporter Richard Stenger visits the area to look at the various locations that were used in the films.

Three and a half miles south of Furnace Creek is Golden Canyon, one of the park’s most popular day hikes, where Jawas hid themselves before zapping R2-D2 with an ionization blaster in “Episode IV: A New Hope.” My kids are about the same size as the school children who played the film’s Jawas, small and dirty creatures. They naturally gravitate to the many side canyons, narrow slots that zig and zag out of Golden Canyon, climbing, crumbling and sampling the rock walls.

Dante’s View, a legendary locale in “Star Wars” lore, at 5,500 feet in elevation offers a sweeping view of the salt-crusted floor of the valley.

Other scenes from “A New Hope” were filmed here as well, like when Luke was conked on the head by Tusken Raiders, dangerous sand pirates wrapped in rags with grotesque metal protrusions for eyes and mouths.

About 7 miles south on Badwater Road, we detour onto a short one-way road that leads to Artist’s Palette, a riot of colors splashed on the hills, with iron, aluminum, magnesium, titanium, hematite and chlorite serving as the pigments. In an unmarked gulch that runs along the north side of the Artist’s Palette parking lot, Jawas carried off R2-D2 in Artoo’s Arroyo. In the nearby Black Mountains, old Ben Kenobi lived in a hermit hut.

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