John Wayne in Colorado

The entrance to the "Ross homestead" in John Wayne's "True Grit" as it looks today. Located on Last Dollar Road, off Highway 62, on the road from Ridgway to Telluride.

Duke Morrison's very first movie location was Glendwood Springs, Colorado. In 1926, young John Wayne was invited to come along and help Tom Mix stay in shape during the filming of The Great K&A Train Robbery. The former USC student turned movie star had come a long way when he returned to Colorado in 1969 to do his oscar-winning True Grit. This picture shows the entrance to the "Ross homestead" as it is today. Located on Last Dollar Road, off Highway 62, on the road from Ridgway to Telluride.


The cheerful finale of John Wayne's "True Grit" took place on top of the hill overlooking the farmhouses at Lost Dollar Road.

The finale of True Grit took place on top of the hill overlooking the farmhouses at Lost Dollar Road. They had the first part of the sequence in the can but it snowed that night, so director Henry Hathaway decided to re-shoot the whole scene. This photo of John Wayne on Dollor was taken during the first day without snow.

"Come see a fat old man sometime": The place where Rooster jumped the fence, on the hill overlooking the "Ross Homestead" at Lost Dollar road, outside Ridgway.

"Come see a fat old man sometime": The place where Rooster Cogburn jumped the fence. The location of McAlester's Store can be found closeby. To find this John Wayne movie location, follow Highway 62 further up, take the cutoff that leads to the area called Horsefly Mesa

For John Wayne's "True Grit", production built the the shell of Judge Parker’s courthouse on Lena Street and the gallows in Hartwell Park in Ridgway.

The gallows for John Wayne's True Grit was built in Hartwell Park in the middle of Ridgway, located on scenic U.S. Route 550 and coined "Gateway to the San Juans". The Paramount crew constructed the shell of Judge Parker’s courthouse from which the “Hanging Judge” supervises the execution on Lena Street


Director Henry Hathaway used Hatwell Park in Ridgway even before John Wayne's "True Grit": he set a scene from "How the West Was Won", including Gregory Peck,  in the same park.

Director Henry Hathaway had used the town of Ridgway before he came back to direct John Wayne in True Grit. Hatwell Park in the middle of town is where Gregory Peck offers his services to Debbie Reynolds and Thelma Ritter in How the West Was Won.

John Wayne delivers the prisoners to a place in Ridgway, Colorado, where the "True Grit Café" now stands.

After Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne in his award-winning performance) delivers his prisoners in a caged wagon, he walks downstairs to take a side entrance. In 1985, the True Grit Café was built on this empty lot.

View from the "True Grit Café" in Ridgway, on the Hatwell Park where the gallows stood.

View from the terrace of the True Grit Café on the spot where Rooster Coburn (John Wayne) made his entrance in True Grit. The establishment honors the movie and its star. 

What is now the inside of "The True Grit Café" in Ridgway was the "True Grit" location where John Wayne made his first entrance in his oscar-winning performance.

The True Grit Café actually encloses the original movie location of John Wayne's entrance as Rooster Cogburn: The external wall on which the art department painted “Chambers Grocery” is now the internal south wall of the restaurant. 


The most recognizable prop from John Wayne's "True Grit": Rooster's paddy wagon, seen during repair.

Rooster Cogburn's paddy wagon (seen here during renovation in 2017) is usually parked in its place of honor downtown. John Wayne runs this cage on wheels into his first scene in True Grit.

A whole street in Ridgway was turned back in time for the filming of "True Grit": this is Clinton Street, and John Wayne and Kim Darby are on their way to Cheng Lee's shop.

John Wayne leads Kim Darby down Clinton Street in Ridgway in this scene in True Grit: To the left of Clinton Street is the lot where Cheng Lee’s shop was.

The Old Ridgway Fire Station bell tower made an appearence in John Wayne's "True Grit".

On the corner of North Lena and Clinton in Ridgway, Colorado, the Old Ridgway Fire Station bell tower was added for the John Wayne movie True Grit (originally a high school building). 

The incident that starts the plot of "True Grit": Mattie's father is gunned down on Lena Street in Ridgway. In memory to the John Wayne film, they now call it the "Fort Smith Saloon".

In the very beginning of John Wayne's Oscar winning film True Grit, Mattie’s father gets shot down on Lena Street in Ridgway, in front of the “Fort Smith Saloon”. What used to be a movie saloon is now the place of an Adventure Sports store. 

In John Wayne's "True Grit", his old sidekick Hank Worden was an embalmer in this old stone house at Clinton Street in Ridgway.

The old stone house at Clinton Street in Ridgway – that’s where John Wayne's frequent co-star Hank Worden acted as an embalmer in True Grit.

The courthouse in John Wayne's "True Grit" was a composite of the shell they built on Lena Street in Ridgway and the inside of an actual courthouse in Ouray.

The courtroom scenes in True Grit were merged: John Wayne's outdoor shots of the shell built for the movie in Ridgway on Lena Street cut to...


The real courthouse on 4th Street in Ouray is where John Wayne shot the interiors of the court sequence his oscar-winning "True Grit".

...the real courthouse in Ouray, ten miles from Ridgway. The time-honored county courthouse stands on 4th Street. The scene on the stair with John Wayne and Kim Darby rolling Rooster's cigarette, as well as the courtroom sequence were shot inside the courthouse.

Ned Pepper's hidout and the snakepit in "True Grit" where constructed in the Ouray area, on Camp Bird Road.

The True Grit art department built the snakpit - where John Wayne saves Kim Darby - in the Ouray area, where Million Dollar Highway cuts to the right onto Camp Bird Road. The remains of the pit are on private property. 

The misty Owl Creek Pass is the location of the famous shoot-out in John Wayne's "True Grit".

Several True Grit locations can be found along the Owl Creek Pass. With Chimeny Rock rising above Deb’s Meadow, near the summit, this was the perfect place for Rooster Cogburn's (John Wayne) showdown with Lucky Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall).



When John Wayne gets his horse shot from under him in "True Grit", he lands in front of this large boulder on Deb's Meadow.

John Wayne is trapped under the fallen horse. When Rooster Cogburn's horse got shot, it went down...

When John Wayne gets his horse shot from under him, he lands in front of this large boulder on Deb's Meadow.

...right here, in front of this boulder on Deb's Meadow. Again, Henry Hathaway had used that location around 5 years before True Grit, in the epic How the West Was Won, in a scene with Gregory Peck and Debbie Reynolds. Some people say that's how the meadow got its name.  

The little creek on Deb's Meadow is not only a "True Grit" location: five years before, this was the place where Robert Preston courted Debbie Reynold's in "How the West Was Won".

Also on Deb's Meadow, even though it's right next to the shootout location: you'll find the place where John Wayne (Rooster Cogburn) made camp and the Texas Ranger (Glen Campbell) shot the turkey. 

Rooster (John Wayne) makes camp on the summit of Owl Creek Pass, with Cimarron Range" in the background.

Follow the road to the summit until you reach a loop and you will find this True Grit movie location, the place of the last camp. This is...

In "True Grit", Rooster (John Wayne) makes camp on the summit of Owl Creek Pass, with Cimarron Range" in the background.

...Cimarron Range in the background of the scene where Rooster (John Wayne) hits the bottle a little too hard and Mattie...

"Sleeping Rock" at Owl Creek Pass: this is where Kim Darby spent the night in John Wayne's "True Grit".

...Kim Darby goes to sleep under this rock which the locals now call the "Sleeping Rock" of True Grit.

You won't be able to find this John Wayne location unless you know how to dive: The Blue Mesa Reservoir, seen in this scene from "True Grit", is now underwater.

The Blue Mesa Reservoir east of Montrose on Highway 50 was the True Grit location of the ferry sequence, when John Wayne remarks "She reminds me of me!" The water was much lower then; this location is now underwater.


The movie town known to moviemakers and tourists alike was Bucksin Joe. In 1972, John Wayne shot a small portion of "The Cowboys" here.
MGM built the movie town of Bucksin Joe in 1957, west of Canon City. It was formed with 100-year-old log buildings from the frontier. John Wayne shot one scene for "The Cowboys" here, when he is trying to locate hands for his trail drive.

The movie town known to moviemakers and tourists alike was Bucksin Joe. That's John Wayne as Wil Anderson going to town in The Cowboys. MGM built it in 1957, eight miles west of Canon City, Colorado. Its most important characteristic was that it was formed with around thirty authentic, 100-year-old log buildings from the Colorado frontier, assembled there into an old western-style town. The owners developed the location into a theme park.  That all ended in 2010 when Bucksin Joe was sold. A billionaire purchased it as a whole. All that was left were the original entrance boundary stones and a couple of unwanted wooden planks, left in the grass (see picture above). The town was moved to his ranch near Gunnison. Ironically, Gunnison was used as a location in The Searchers.


The opening shots of John Wayne`s "The Sons of Katie Elder" were shot along the rails of the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

That's the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad you see in the title sequence of the John Wayne western The Sons of Katie Elder, steaming up the forty-five miles of track between Durango, Colorado, and Silverton...

The Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad features in the title sequence of John Wayne's "The Sons of Katie Elder".

...and even though John Wayne himself didn't ride in the Durango-Silverton Railroad, the museum at the Durango depot proudly devotes some rolling stock to him. The heritage railroad has run continuously since 1881.