Lights, camera, action at Paramount Ranch

  • Tom Dell
  • May 7, 2018
  • Welcome to Paramount Ranch!

    We’re heading this week to one parcel of a dynamic National Park Service area hidden in plain sight on the doorstep of Los Angeles – Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.  Within the NRA are vast areas of hills, mountains and rocky coastline, with tremendously varied terrain in between.

    At Paramount Ranch, walkers, equestrians and mountain bikers can make scenic, easy-to-moderate trips through chaparral, oak woodlands and riparian forests.  Thanks to our moderate Southern California weather, the area can be explored all year.  Expect some traffic on weekends and hardy any during the week.

    Western town

    That’s not all.  The ranch features a Western Town filming set that’s been a legitimate outpost of Hollywood for over 90 years and is still being used. That will be the focus of this week’s short blog post.      

    The buildings are mostly empty

    Native Americans have lived in this area for over 10,000 years.  Spain made the first European settlement in the 1700s when it established the mission system,  During the Mexican period (early 1800s), the land was subdivided into ranchos that raised cattle and crops.  Next came homesteaders and other American settlers who, among other things, established a film industry.

    This was a model shoot for a magazine on knives. PHOTO: Tom Dell

    In 1927 Paramount Pictures leased 2,700 acres of the old Rancho Las Virgenes thus launching a “movie ranch” that’s still operating today.  The Western Town was built as a movable, customizable set. 

    Check out the impressive list of movies filmed here.  Go to      

    Just below that, you’ll find the link of TV series filmed at Paramount Ranch.

    Not a ghost town

    Please keep this in mind:  Paramount Ranch is a movie set – not a restored historical collection.  Most of the buildings are empty.  One of the most popular visitor activities is family photography around the town sites.

    The Western Town is open 8 to 6 daily.  Admission and parking are free.  Facilities include restrooms, water and a picnic area.  Dogs are allowed but must remain on a leash.  Western Town has unpaved streets but is considered accessible.

    The trail system begins on the west side of the town site.


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