While most of Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1980 film was shot on a studio lot in England, a couple of the film’s most iconic sites can actually be found as real locations.
Perhaps the most majestic opening credits sequence ever laid to film is also the most majestic film location we’ve ever personally visited. As Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, drives his family up the remote mountain road to the hotel, the aerial footage is breathtaking. Looking at it in person, however, is even more breathtaking.
The road in question is Going-To-The-Sun Road, located in Glacier National Park, Montana. There are a few entrances to get to the road. Those looking for the opening shot over the lake will want to head to the western banks of Saint Mary Lake entrance. You won’t have to drive far to begin to recognize the famous views.
Some advice for prospective visitors; leave early and plan to spend the day in the park. Going-To-The-Sun Road spans nearly 50 miles of winding, mountain road. It will take you hours, especially if you stop and soak in the many brilliant views to be seen, such as the glaciers, cascading waterfalls, towering mountains, beautiful wildflowers and active wildlife (you’ll likely encounter grazing, wild goats). We’d also recommend you visit during the summer months, as parts of the road may close in the winter months. There is an entrance fee into the park, but that’s nothing in comparison to what you get in return. Having traveled the United States many times over, in our opinion, we can comfortably say that we consider Going-To-The-Sun Road in Montana to be the crown jewel and the most beautiful, scenic drive the country has to offer.
LOCATION: Going-To-The-Sun Rd., West Glacier, MT 59936 (inside Glacier National Park)
This is the point of Saint Mary Lake where the opening shot takes place. It’s close to the St. Mary entrance of the road.
A view of the start of the winding road, which runs along the mountainside. The drive is fun and never felt particularly hazardous, as long as you drive safely and the weather conditions are optimal.
Another view of the lake, seen from the perspective of driving along the road.
And lastly, a view of the road from much higher up the mountain.
Moving on to the hotel itself, you’ll have to travel far away from the windy roads of Montana, out west to Oregon. The avoid confusion, there are actually three hotels widely associated with the fictional Overlook Hotel from the film. The first is the Stanley Hotel (located at 333 E Wonderview Ave., Estes Park, CO 80517). This is the hotel the novel’s author, Stephen King, stayed at, which inspired the story. King and his wife stayed in Room 217 in 1974 and were the sole, final guests of the season, before the hotel closed for the winter months. The empty corridors and lack of other guests helped inspire the author. In 2015, the Stanley Hotel added a maze outside, as an homage to the novel and film. The 1997 TV movie version of The Shining filmed at the Stanley Hotel.
The second hotel associated with the film is the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, California. The interiors for this hotel inspired the set designs of the Kubrick version of the film. Those sets were built at Elstree Studios in England, while the real Ahwahnee Hotel was never seen in the actual film. As of 2016, due to a trademark dispute, the hotel has actually been renamed the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (located at 1 Ahwahnee Dr., Yosemite National Park, CA 95389).
The third hotel, the Timberline Lodge, is the sole hotel that was seen in the actual film. The exteriors provided the outside views of the Overlook Hotel. The Timberline Lodge can be found at Mount Hood in Oregon. It should be noted that only a few shots of the actual hotel are seen in the film, which are establishing shots. For all of the acted scenes, the production actually built a massive recreation of the Timberline Lodge just outside of their studios in England.
LOCATION: 27500 W Leg Rd., Timberline Lodge, OR 97028
Here is a look at the back of the hotel.
Here’s a view of the front of the hotel, which is bustling with visitors, unlike the desolation seen in the film.
Last, but not least, we leave you with a prop from the film; the famous typewriter on which Jack is writing his novel. This is the actual typewriter from the film, which was on display as part of a Stanley Kubrick exhibition in Los Angeles (the exhibition has since closed).
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.