Steven Spielberg’s classic 1993 film “Jurassic Park” takes place on the fictional island of Isla Nublar, supposedly near Costa Rica. The real locations were filmed mostly in Hawaii, on the islands of Kauaʻi, O’ahu and Maui, with some additional scenes filmed on studio lots near Hollywood, California.
Early in the film, Grant and Ellie, played by Sam Neill and Laura Dern, are introduced discovering dinosaur fossils at a dig site supposedly located in the Badlands, near Snakewater, Montana. These scenes were actually filmed at Red Rock Canyon State Park in Cantil, California, a couple hours north of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert. To get to the area seen in the film, you can take the Red Cliffs Nature Trail from the Red Rock Cliffs Parking Area, which will lead you most of the way there. We’ve provided GPS coordinates below.
LOCATION: Red Rock Canyon State Park, Cantil, CA 93519 (GPS coordinates: 35°22’26.2″N, 117°58’18.2″W)
Here is the area where Grant talks to the young boy about the hunting techniques of the raptor.
Here is one of the angles from the area where the monitor canopy was set up.
The area where the camper trailer is parked and Hammond, played by Richard Attenborough, opens the champagne, was to the right near the rock cliffs.
Nedry, played by Wayne Knight, meets Dodgson at an outdoor dining area, supposedly located in San Jose, Costa Rica. The real location is just off the Kuhio Highway in Kapaʻa, Kauaʻi. There are numerous food trucks there where motorists can stop and enjoy local food. This is the spot where Dodgson first arrives by the side of the road.
LOCATION: 4-1620 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaʻa, HI 96746
This is the general area where Nedry and Dodgson sit and discuss plans to steal dinosaur DNA from InGen and sell it to a rival company. As you can see, the area has changed a little bit. While there are tables you can sit and eat, they are closer to the road at the food trucks. In the film, the two sit further back near the palm trees.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is of course the first dinosaur sighting. For years, it also remained one of the most elusive locations to fans. The brachiosaurus encounter was filmed at Jurassic Kahili Ranch in Kauaʻi. The land is a private ranch for horse, sheep and cattle. For decades, it did not offer tours of any kind and only a select few ever made it onto the property. That changed in 2019, when the ranch began offering public tours for the first time, including a tour dedicated to filming locations around the ranch. The tours were unfortunately suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic, but they may resume in the future. Besides the original film, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” “Jurassic Park III” and “Jurassic World” also filmed at the ranch.
Here is where Hammond rides with Grant, Ellie and Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) in the Jeeps, as they first approach a hill towards the brachiosaurus.
LOCATION: Jurassic Kahili Ranch, 5-1771D, Kuhio Hwy, Kilauea, HI 96754
The vehicles continue driving past this row of trees.
Here is the exact spot where they first see the brachiosaurus. It is eating from the tree on the right. As iconic as this scene is, the ranch itself is so vast, it would be quite easy to miss if you didn’t know the general vicinity. However, once you’re there, if you know the film, it’s very identifiable.
LOCATION: 22.186017, -159.388725
As Grant sits on the ground bewildered by what he’s just seen, he looks the opposite direction and sees a herd of dinosaurs at a lake. This is made to appear as if it’s right near the trees where the first brachiosaurus is seen, but in reality is a completely different part of the ranch. Visual effects were used to composite the actors into the shot, to appear to be overlooking the lake.
This was filmed at the Pu’u Ka Ele Reservoir, located on the ranch. After a breach of the nearby Ka Loko Reservoir in 2006, located about 2 miles east of the ranch, the owners decided to decommission the Pu’u Ka Ele Reservoir in 2009 and downsize it into a lake. This is how it appears now. This same lake was featured again in “Jurassic Park III,” when Dr. Grant and the survivors ride a barge along the water and pass herds of dinosaurs standing along the banks.
If you get a chance to visit Jurassic Kahili Ranch in Kauaʻi, we certainly encourage you to do so if you’re a fan of the film. There are other, very recognizable locations from the other “Jurassic Park” films to be seen there as well. The staff is very friendly and welcoming to photography and video and eager for fan input on how to improve the experience. With the ranch now open to tours, it will likely grow as a tourist hot spot in the years to come.
Later in the film, a storm arrives on the island, which was filmed at Nawiliwili Harbor in Kauaʻi. The very real Hurricane Iniki hit Kauaʻi during filming in 1992. Spielberg and the cast were safely holed up at the Marriott Resort in Lihue when the hurricane struck. The hurricane resulted in many scenes initially planned for filming in Kauaʻi to be shifted to O’ahu, as well as the studio lots in California. However, they managed to use footage of the actual hurricane in the film, taken at the hotel looking out over the harbor. If you don’t want to visit the hotel, there is a nearby park, from which the harbor can also be seen pretty well.
LOCATION: Nawiliwili Harbor, Lihue, HI 96766 (seen near 3610 Rice St, Lihue, HI 96766)
The T-rex attack was filmed at Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank, California, on their tallest sound stage. The T-rex chasing Malcolm and Ellie was originally intended to be shot in Kauaʻi, however. Due to the hurricane, this scene was also shifted to the Warner lot and can sometimes be seen on their studio tours, depending on the production schedules around the lot (4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505).
Perhaps the most widely known location for this film is Kualoa Ranch in O’ahu. The Gallimimus stampede, with Grant and the two children, was not initially intended to be filmed at Kualoa Ranch. Instead it was meant to be another location in Kauaʻi. Kualoa was a replacement location, due to the hurricane. Here is the main valley at the ranch, where the stampede takes place.
LOCATION: Kualoa Ranch, 49-560 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Another view where Grant and the children are running. The valley appears again in both “Jurassic World” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”
The ranch still has a small piece of the original fallen tree they hide behind as the T-rex hunts and eats the Gallimimus. They added a sign for the film and it has since become the most popular photo location on the ranch. It’s right next to the main tour trail, so it’s very easy to access.
These mountains were seen in the background as Grant and the kids hide and watch the T-rex.
While “Jurassic Park” was not the first movie to film at Kualoa, it certainly became the most famous. After this film, countless other films, TV shows, commercials and music videos began filming on the ranch, bringing with it quite a lot of tourism. The ranch has so many filming locations, it’s almost like a studio tour. There are a wide variety of tours available at the ranch, many of which are not film related. While the locations from this film can be seen on quite a few of the tours, we recommend the Premier Movie Site Tour, as it takes you to many locations from other films that are only seen on that particular tour.
If you get a chance to visit Hawaii, there are quite a few “Jurassic Park” locations to be seen. Some are quite a challenge to visit, however, involving hiking or private helicopter rides as the only way to reach them. For the casual fan, we recommend Jurassic Kahili Ranch in Kauaʻi and Kualoa Ranch in O’ahu. Both offer spectacular views and very recognizable locations from multiple different “Jurassic Park” films. As a reminder, these are private ranches closed to the general public for unauthorized experiences. Please do not trespass. The only way to see them is by booking a tour.
Thanks to Sean Mello for providing the GPS coordinates of the brachiosaurus tree.
Related articles: Jurassic Park III (2001), Jurassic World (2015), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)