Movie Locations of the Great Southwest! Visit locations in New Mexico and the Southwest where movies from the 1980s were made.

Original vintage poster from the 1985 movie Silverado.Silverado

1985. Columbia Pictures, Columbia/Tristar Home Video, Color, Aspect Ratio 2.20 : 1, 133 minutes, Rated PG-13

Release Date: July 10, 1985

Silverado is available at on DVD, in a 2-Disc Superbit Gift Set, on Blu-ray, and on VHS.

Movie Synopsis: Four riders on their way to Silverado, each for their own reasons, find themselves working together to free the town of an evil cattle baron and his purchased lawman’s steel grip, and in the process they find friendship and new lives. ~Aimee

Cast: Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, Kevin Costner, Sheb Wooley, John Cleese, Brian Dennehy, Linda Hunt, Jeff Goldblum, Rosanna Arquette, Ray Baker, Lynn Whitfield, Jeff Fahey

Director: Lawrence Kasdan

Thoughts on the Movie:
Other than a wrist (stitched post-mortem) cameo in The Big Chill (and whose to say it wasn’t a double’s wrist, at that?), this movie marks the first time I ever saw Kevin Costner. Hard to believe it now! He was so young and full of piss and vinegar in this role. But so was I back then. I think this movie was the beginning of the Western’s comeback. Of course, critics would know for sure. I love movies, but I don’t take them quite as seriously as some.

The opening action grabbed my attention immediately, and then grabbed my heart with Kline’s whispered, “Pleased to meet you.” (A little comic relief is always welcome in my book.) Silverado is a movie full of serious situations played in a sometimes not-so-serious manner. (For example: Kline in his longjohns, shootin’ it out in the middle of the street with an absolute wreck of a gun, and winning!) To me, this is a classic. And then of course, there’s the stellar cast and beautiful Northern New Mexico, spread out in glorious widescreen. What more could you possibly ask of a Western? If you have not seen this movie, all I can say is, what on Earth are you waiting for? ~Aimee

A charming scene from "The Milagro Beanfield War,"shot in the beautiful and bucolic village of Truchas, in Northern New Mexico.
Location Site:
Cook Movie Ranch Set, Galisteo, New Mexico (see Map)
Cook Movie Ranch is now Cerro Pelon Ranch, located at 5547 Highway 41, North Galisteo, New Mexico. The original Cook Movie Ranch Set was one of the main locations for Silverado.

Right: The Cerro Pelon Ranch as it is today (2011), near Galisteo, New Mexico. Formerly the Cook Movie Ranch Set, it is one of the most famous Western Town sets in the world.

About Cerro Pelon Ranch:
What is now Cerro Pelon Ranch is located near the village of Galisteo. Cook Movie Ranch was owned by Bill and Marian Cook, who got their start in providing locations for the film industry in 1984. Their ranch became the largest set of its kind in the world. Originally, the ranch provided Western town sets (first built for the movie Silverado), but the demand for shooting elsewhere on the ranch expanded over the years.

Locations farther within the ranch were possible to use due to an unobtrusive network of roads enabling companies to get to remote areas, where you’ll find anything from zigzagging arroyos to the foreboding mountain peaks to treacherous deep-cut slate and granite canyons... all essential elements of true-to-life Westerns. There is also the endless airy vistas, unique to the Galisteo Basin, an openness indicating that this is a big ranch, with 20,000 acres in all.

A scene from Silverado on what was then the Cook Movie Ranch Set. This Western Town was built specifically for filming Silverado, and most of the movie was shot either here or on other nearby locations in Northern New Mexico.
The Cooks relied on ranch residents, Don and Trixie Pope, to work with the many film productions. The Popes raised cattle on the ranch for years before getting involved with the filming activity. Don Pope metamorphosed from a cattleman-farmer, reluctant to deal with Hollywood, to a production-savvy ranch manager who could grade roads, wrangle livestock, and pull stuck generators out of the mud when called on to do so.

Right: A scene from “Silverado” on what was then the Cook Movie Ranch Set. This Western Town was built specifically for filming “Silverado” and most of the movie was shot either here or on other nearby locations in Northern New Mexico.

In 1984, director Lawrence Kasdan and his brother, Mark, were out scouting a remote area of New Mexico by helicopter, hoping to find the most suitable place to build the town of “Silverado.” The location manager arrived at the Cook’s ranch, and the rest is movie history. At that time Kasdan only wanted to build two to three structures, offering them a “casual number” as a location fee. “There wasn’t any great motivation for me one way or another, but I said okay. It just grew from that into a big budget movie and the Silverado set was built,” Cook recalled. The set was appropriately dressed and filmed for towns in four different states, depending on the view from the streets: mountains or prairie or the Galisteo River.

The Cerro Pelon Ranch “Western Town” seen from the distance. It looks like an actual town when seen from afar.
The Cook Ranch changed hands in 2001, and the new owners renamed it the Cerro Pelon Ranch, for the mountain on the land. Cerro Pelon means “Bald Hill.” The Cerro Pelon Ranch is a “working ranch” with natural grass fed cattle and horses. Private land includes 21,000 acres, and 5,000 acres are leased from the government. The land is very fragile and there is a need of grass for the cattle, so, unlike the Cooks, the owners try to only lease the Western town set itself, and are very careful about leasing other open land locations on the ranch.

Right: The Cerro Pelon Ranch “Western Town” seen from the distance. It looks like an actual town when viewed from afar.

About Galisteo, New Mexico:
Galisteo, New Mexico (population 265; elevation 6,056 feet; 35° 23’ 43” N, 105° 56’ 52” W) is located about 20 miles south of Santa Fe on State Highway 41. The present settlement is located along the Galisteo Creek in the Galisteo Basin. All of these are named for Galisteo Pueblo, one of several abandoned and ruined Tanoan villages in the basin, sited near the settlement. This small community is one of ranches and houses in a rural New Mexico setting. Not much here to see except the gorgeous scenery, and that’s saying a whole lot!

Kevin Costner on the set of the 1980 Western, “Silverado.”Kevin Costner on the set of the 1980 Western, “Silverado.”
Lodging & Dining:
For Recommended Hotels, Motels and Lodges in Santa Fe, see: Santa Fe Lodging

Filming Info:
Shooting on Silverado lasted 96 days, between November 1984 and March 1985. Other locations used on the film are: Abiquiu, Galisteo, Ghost Ranch, Los Alamos, Nambe, White Rock, White Rock Overlook, Tent Rocks, Cochiti Pueblo, and Santa Ana Pueblo, all in New Mexico. Eaves Movie Ranch, near Santa Fe, New Mexico, was also utilized.

Right: Kevin Costner on the set of the 1985 Western, “Silverado.”

• Bruce Broughton was nominated for an Oscar for Best Musical Score.
• Donald O. Mitchell, Rick Kline, Kevin O’Connell, and David M. Ronne were nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound.
• Lawrence Kasdan won the Young Venice Award at the Venice Film Festival.

Movie Trivia:
• Kevin Costner was offered the role of Jake by Lawrence Kasdan, in part to make up for his role in The Big Chill (1983) being cut out of that film.
• The set for Silverado was built for this movie at Cook Movie Ranch and has since been used in such movies as: Young Guns II (1990), Wyatt Earp (1994), Last Man Standing (1996), Lonesome Dove (1989), All the Pretty Horses (2000), and Wild Wild West (1999). In Wild Wild West, “Kasdan Ironworks” can be seen on the side of one of the buildings as a reference to Lawrence Kasdan.
• Director and producer, Lawrence Kasdan, cast two of his children and his wife in small roles in the film. His brother (and co-writer), Mark Kasdan, also had a small role as a doctor that was filmed, but ended up on the cutting room floor. Nepotism at its finest.
• John Cleese’s first line, “What’s all this, then?” is a Monty Python in-joke, as that line was often uttered by policemen upon entering the scene of a crime on Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969). It’s a very common British remark; The Beatles said that same phrase quite often.
• In reference to how different actors work together, Scott Glenn mentioned how he “really liked” Kevin Costner, and how he thought Kevin was “easy and comfortable” to be around. He exclaimed, “There is real magic going on with that performance.” Glenn spent time on the set kidding around with Costner, addressing him by saying, “Hey, movie star!” during that earlier stage in the young actor's career.

Left: Kevin Kline sits on one of the interior sets of “Silverado.”

Character Quote: “Me, I’m riding along, minding my own business. These cowboys come by and we decide to ride together for a while, friendly as can be. I always figure you might as well approach life like everybody’s your friend or nobody is; don’t make much difference. We get out in the middle of that frying pan and suddenly everybody’s pointing their gun but me. I guess they admired my horse.” ~Paden (Kevin Kline)