Paramount Ranch

Horse and riders pose in front of the old Western Town facade
 

Paramount Ranch has been a special place in film history since 1927. It is the National Park Service's only site dedicated to interpreting American film history. The Paramount Ranch property is a working movie ranch that allows the public to see filmmaking in progress.  

It offers several miles of easy to moderate scenic hikes through chaparral, riparian, and valley oak savannah plant communities. Most hikes are named after T.V. and movie productions that were filmed here.

Paramount Ranch has also hosted weddings, star parties, music festivals, classic movie nights, and various other activities.  

Equestrians and mountain bikers may access these multi-use trails. Wildlife sightings might include red-tailed hawks, acorn woodpeckers, coyotes, and deer. Be on the lookout for our two native oak species—coast live oak and valley oak. 

Experience the rare valley oak savannah, which may become extinct within decades because of climate change.

Film History – The Paramount Pictures Era

When Paramount Pictures leased the ranch in 1923, they began a historic era of film production. You can experience the area where Claudette Colbert was sentenced as a witch in 1692 Massachusetts in Maid of Salem (1937). Bob Hope played the part of a vain movie star whose biggest fear is to be drafted into the U.S. Army in Caught in the Draft (1941). 

A veritable "who's who" of Hollywood practiced their craft here for almost a century. From actors Gary Cooper, W.C. Fields, Marlene Dietrich, and many more! 

The diverse landscape, however, was the real star of the show. It offered filmmakers the freedom to create distant locales such as colonial Massachusetts to ancient China in The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938), a South Seas island in Ebb Tide (1937), and numerous western locations, including San Francisco in Wells Fargo (1937). The art of illusion was mastered on the landscape.

The golden era of moviemaking at Paramount Ranch came to an end when changes to the studio system prompted Paramount Pictures to sell the ranch. Paramount Ranch found renewed life as a film location when William Hertz bought the southeast portion in 1953. 

Hertz Era Western Town

An ardent fan of movie westerns, Hertz built a permanent western town utilizing Paramount Pictures' old prop storage sheds. As a result, television companies began shooting westerns at the ranch, such as The Cisco Kid and Bat Masterson. 

William Hertz sold the property in 1955 to three businessmen investors who renamed it the Paramount Sportsman's Ranch. The Paramount Raceway opened a year later. Some considered it one of the most challenging in the U.S., and it closed 18 months later after two fatal crashes occurred in December of 1957. The raceway was featured in The Devil's Hairpin (1957) and Disney's The Love Bug (1968). Most of the track still winds through the grass and oak woodlands of the park.

From 1957 to 1980, the ranch would see more ownership changes, but filmmaking continued. 

National Park Service Purchases Paramount Ranch

After purchasing a portion of the original Paramount property in 1980, the National Park Service revitalized the old movie ranch. 

In the early 1990s, Jane Seymour and Joe Lando captured hearts in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993-1998), a television show that used Paramount Ranch as their permanent, everyday set. Members of the public would often camp out for the day and watch the show get created in real-time!

More recent productions at Paramount include The Lake House (2006) starring Sandra Bullock, HBO's Westworld (2016-2017), and American Sniper (2014). Find a complete list of films and T.V. shows filmed here, linked below. 

In November 2018, the Woolsey Fire swept through the area. It destroyed much of what was known as Western Town, a real-life Hollywood-adjacent motion picture set. The train depot used in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman series and the chapel used in HBO's "Westworld" remains. 

The site is currently being reimagined. Exciting plans are underway to remake the only location in the National Park Service dedicated to the ongoing creation of movies and television shows.

Visiting the Paramount Ranch Western Town

Cross the bridge to get to the chapel used in HBO's "Westworld," It will be on your left. The only other building that still stands on the former Hertz Era Western Town site is the train depot that was used in the T.V. show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. All trailheads extend from this area, except the trail that goes toward Mulholland highway.

 
 

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Picnicking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Dog walking
  • Wildlife Viewing
 

Directions

2903 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills, CA, 91301

GPS Coordinates: N 34.1181 W -118.7525

Take Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) to Kanan Road exit. South on Kanan 0.5 mile. Left on Cornell Way and veer to the right. South 2.5 miles, entrance is on right side of the road.

 

Good to Know

Parking Yes Ample parking everywhere.
Restrooms Yes
Water Yes
Pets Yes Dogs are allowed but must remain on a leash, not to exceed six feet, at all times. Please pick ­up after your dog.
Cell Service Yes/No Depends on cell service provider. Unreliable cell service in the backcountry.
 
A wooden bridge welcomes you into an old western town
Hertz Era Western Town was a real-life motion picture set that has been used for many films and TV shows.
 
A trail to the right follows trees and rolling hills with a mountain view in the background
Medicine Woman Trail gives sweeping views of open grassland with mature valley live oaks located near Western Town.

Last updated: November 26, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

26876 Mulholland Highway
Calabasas , CA 91302

Phone:

805 370-2301

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