Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?
A. A two-story home on a cattle ranch, shared by Dolores (a 'host') and her father (also a 'host').
Q. When do we see it?
principal location, as home to one of the main characters, this ranch home
shows up in most episodes, starting with Episode 1.
Q. What is it in real life?
usual Westworld loop, she wakes up in this house, then, after visiting
the town of Sweetwater, she returns to find that outlaws have attacked the home and murdered
A. This is a permanent house set on a movie ranch.
Q. Where can I find it in real life?
A. At the Big Sky Ranch, located at 4927 Bennett Road, in Simi Valley, CA.
As you can tell from the screencap, the house is perched atop a small hill, deep within the ranch's interior.
Here's a photo of the house from the ranch's website:
Blue Sky is a 6,500+ acre movie ranch. But before that, long before Hollywood arrived, it was an actual ranch.
( For the uninitiated, "movie ranches" are large parcels of rural land,
mostly in the hills surrounding Los Angeles, which are used by the
movie and TV studios for filming, when they need to portray open or
rural land, without modern buildings showing up, but when they don't
want to travel far from home to do so. Some ranches came equipped with
their own Old West towns, while others were simply open land. At one
time, virtually all of the studios owned movie ranches, and there are
still over a dozen of them scattered across the nearby hills of
Southern California. Some are mostly retired, but many are still
very active filming locations. They used several different ranches for Westworld,
including Disney's Golden Oak Ranch, Melody Ranch, Paramount Ranch,
Veluzat Ranch, Polsa Rosa Ranch, among others. One of the
challenges of tracking down the Westworld filming locations was telling
the various movie ranches apart, )
Blue Sky Ranch dates back to the 1880’s, when the
working cattle ranch was known as Patterson Ranch.
In the 1930's, it
was bought by oil tycoon J. Paul Getty (yes, the same man who gave L.A.
the Getty museums), and he named it the Tapo Ranch.
started shooting at the ranch in the 1950's, when "Gunsmoke" was shot
there, Some scenes from "Bonanza" were shot there in the 1960's.
In 1981, it was sold again and renamed Big Sky Ranch.
Big Sky played Kansas in its best-known role, as the main location for "Little House on the Prairie".
Other productions filmed at Big Sky include "Coming to America," "Father
Murphy," "The Thorn Birds," "The Gambler," "The Beastmaster" "Dallas", "Quantum Leap", "Tales of the Crypt"and the horror film
Two additional productions, which I documented on my website, were "Saving Mr. Banks" (the story of Walt Disney and the author of Mary Poppins) and an episode of "True Blood", where a different set house played the home of Hoyt & Jessica.
The Abernathy ranch house itself is a "practical set", which means that it's not just an
exterior front, it has realistic rooms inside where they can also film.
I'm not sure exactly how old the house is, but
apparently, the Abernathy house was also used in "Carnivale", so it's
been around for at least a decade. Perhaps it was built for that show.
Or it may be considerably older.)
( Here is a video of the house, shot in 2011:
most movie ranches, which tend to be clustered in the hills above Santa
Clarita (which are northeast of Los Angeles), Big Sky Ranch is located in the hills above Simi Valley, northwest of downtown Los Angeles, above the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway. (you'll
find the Reagan Library nearby.) It's a good hour's drive from downtown L.A.
The ranch is big, and the house is hard to find, It's perched atop a small hill, just off Tripp's Canyon Road, about 2 1/2 miles northwest of the ranch's entrance on Bennett Road, reachable only via dirt roads within the ranch.
don't believe they offer tours (most movie ranches don't), and it's
private property, so you can't just drive in without permission.
The GPS coordinates are: 34.341934, -118.745678
Here is a Google Earth aerial view of the house.
And here is a map link of the house's exact location.
Here is a Google StreetView of the ranch's entrance.
And here is a map link of the ranch itself.
Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?
A. This one was a major pain to find.
Since I've been tracking down filming locations for over 15 years, I've become
fairly familiar with the various movie ranches. But the problem is that
most of them look alike, since they're clustered in the same hills and
most share a similar SoCal natural terrain.
But Big Sky Ranch features a lot of huge, lone oak trees, standing by
themselves out on the plains. So when I spotted one of them in a
shot of the Abernathy homestead, it reminded me of a similar shot of a
house on a hill from the Disney movie "Saving Mr. Banks". I had found the locations for that movie, so I knew it that was shot at Big Sky Ranch.
But knowing which ranch it was just the start. Finding the house itself was another matter. With 6,000+ acres of
mountainous land, pinpointing the house's location on the ranch property was somewhat like looking for the proverbial
needle in a haystack.
searching the ranch, using Google Earth. I knew the address of the
ranch office, but didn't have a map showing the borders of the huge
property, so it was difficult to know exactly where to look.
At first, I thought I might get lucky, and it might be the same Big Sky house that I had found for "True Blood",
They look somewhat similar. But when I compared the two, it
became obvious that this was a different house.
Finally, after hours of seaching in vain, it occurred to me that in order to shoot a scene, they would
need easy access to the house, which should mean there would be a road
(albeit probably a dirt road) running right past it, and there would probably be
a cleared area where they could park the trailers that are used
as dressing rooms and the trucks that bring in the camera and lighting
So, I began using Google Earth to search the ranch for
cleared areas near a road. I found a lot of those on the ranch,
but it narrowed things down, and eventually, I spotted a structure near one of those lots. Zooming in, it
became clear that it was the Abernathy ranch house.
The Westworld screenshots from the show & all related characters &
elements are trademarks of and © HBO.
All other photos & text are Copyright © 2016-Gary Wayne
and may not be used without written permission.
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