Westworld Filming Locations

“Abernathy Ranch”

Abernathy Ranch

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?
A.  A principal location, as home to one of the main characters, this ranch home shows up in most episodes, starting with Episode 1. 

In Dolores's 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 her father.

Q. What is it in real life?
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.

Hollywood 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 "Pumpkinhead."

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.)

A fan, Joel, wrote to say that the ranch house was also seen in the series "Jericho", and in an episode of "The Office" (Season 9, "The Farm").

( Here is a video of the house, shot in 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJDVBocZr3A )

[ Another fan, Ben W., made a good case that the location of the Abernathy ranch house looks very much like the location of the Australian family home in "Saving Mr. Banks", even though the two houses don't look much alike, at first glance.  The bottom halves of the houses do bear a resemblence, and the surroundings (such as the trees and cliffs) look very much alike. So, it's possible that they used CGI in that Disney film to alter the look of the Banks' house (e.g. digitally replacing the top half of the home), although I can't prove or disprove it. ]

Unlike 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.

I 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.

But I began 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 equipment.

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.

Westworld Filming Locations

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