Where was the Last of Us filmed? Infectious travel destinations you need to visit
The Last of Us came to a close last week with an ending just as unsettling as the rest of the whole of the show. The drama, packed with so much more intense emotion and heartbreak than I was expecting, is a brilliant look at life during the apocalypse with some surprising messages about family and hope. All this, with the most gorgeous backdrop of rural towns, snowy mountains, and flowing rivers in spring. HBO really knew how to pick the Last of Us’s filming locations.
Lucky for avid fans of both the show and original video game, a second season has officially been announced, but the wait, as with all good things, is expected to be quite long. We’re looking at at least a year until we’re reunited with Joel and Ellie.
Feeling extra impatient? Why not take a stroll in their footsteps by visiting all of the Last of Us filming locations to quiet that itch. In doing so, you’ll be taken on a roadtrip of Alberta in Canada, with a few other destinations here and there. Maybe set out in a car, or a coach, though… we wouldn’t recommend going these distances on foot like two vagabonds we know…
Some spoilers ahead.
Austin, Texas / Fort Macleod & High River
Before the Cordyceps outbreak, Joel, his daughter Sarah, and his brother Tommy, all lived in peace in Austin, Texas. However, the showrunners didn’t film here, and understandably so… staging a disastrous outbreak is no easy thing, especially in a capital city. You try organising a slew of snapping extras while managing traffic and the general Texas heat. But if you want to experience the hustle and bustle of the South yourself, we have the perfect itinerary for you.
Instead, the quaint neighbourhood and manic driving scenes were filmed in the small towns of Fort Macleod and High River, nearby Calgary. Storefronts of these towns were altered to better fit the feel of Austin and the south, and it’s impressive how believable the crew were able to make these scenes considering they’re on opposite ends of the American continent.
Boston QZ / Calgary
20 years after the initial outbreak, we find Joel living in a devastated Boston with crumbling skyscrapers and collapsed highways, nature slowly reclaiming the city with sprouts and vines everywhere. The blend of concrete and greenery is actually quite pretty, I could see myself living in this kind of urban jungle. Maybe an apocalypse isn’t so bad…
The Boston QZ is where Joel and Ellie first meet and where they’re adventure starts. Of course, as one of my teammates said, “They can’t do that to Boston”, and so the scenes from the first two episodes are not actually in Boston, though they created a rather convincing look alike. In reality, ‘Boston’ is shot in modified areas of the Inglewood neighbourhood in Calgary. Known as ‘Cowtown’ for its very Western influence, Calgary is home to the July rodeo and festival, and the annual Stampede Parade.
Right outside its ring of shimmery skyscrapers are forests and wildlife for days, and the contrast is perfect for the kind of disorienting nature of the adventure Joel and Ellie are about to embark on.
Lincoln, Massachusetts / Beachwood Estates in High River
Bill lives in Lincoln, a typical North Eastern town with white panelled walls, manicured lawns, and a single church in the centre. Our beloved survivalist refuses to leave the town when it is initially evacuated, and so over the years cracks start to show as it slowly decays.
As far as the Last of Us filming locations go, this one was quite easy. The neighbourhood uses Beachwood Estate as its setting, and both locations actually have similar histories. In 2013, after a terrible flood, the houses of Beachwood Estates were evacuated and they’ve remained uninhabited ever since. The area has been abandoned and the natural deterioration that occurred provided a perfect and realistic spot for filming. Only Bill and Frank’s house had to be built from scratch.
Fear not, most of the Eastern Coast has not suffered a similar fate, and it’s actually very charming and cultural. See for yourself.
Kansas QZ / Edmonton
So, listen, sh*t went down during the two episodes based in Kansas QZ, and the levels of stress and sadness were extremely high. These were also the episodes that started to show that maybe the Infected aren’t the bad guys after all… maybe people are worse… This show man, it’s a never ending punch straight to the heart.
Alberta’s capital city, Edmonton, was the chosen filming location for Kansas QZ, and some of the outskirts of Boston as well. Surrounded by a winding river, this city really provides that general feeling of claustrophobia present in this QZ overrun with insurrection and strife. A massive lot in the area was also used for that heart-attack of a scene in which a swarm of Infected stormed our group, accompanied by the infamous Bloater.
Jackson, Wyoming / Canmore
A three-month time jump finds Joel and Ellie trekking through the depths of winter in Wyoming, still in search of Joel’s brother, Tommy. As they look for the town of Jackson, they’re made to cross the ‘River of Death’: a wide and rapid stream of hypothermia-inducing water flanked on either side by rugged nature.
The bridge that they cross is actually Canmore Engine Bridge, and the beautiful snowy destination is just outside of Canmore, a village located in the heart of Kananaskis in the Canadian Rockies. This area is just on the edge of the gorgeous Banff National Park and is a destination for all our wilderness lovers, and guess what, we go here!
The little cabin at the start of the episode is on the bank of Bragg Creek and what is meant to be the University of East Colorado is actually two Calgary university campuses: SAIT and Mount Royal University.
Image source:Devon Hawkins @ Unsplash
Waterton Lakes National Park
As if Joel and Ellie hadn’t suffered enough misfortune already, the penultimate episode finds them in a bit of a predicament when they find themselves in cult territories. This makeshift town, run by the priest David, looks unassuming from the outside, tucked between frosty mountains and evergreens.
In actuality, the filming location was the cosy mountain-side town of Waterton. Completely different vibes from the horrors that happen in the show… Waterton is in the middle of Waterton Lakes National Park. It’s a shame the show doesn’t give us any glimpses of these lakes actually because they span for miles and miles and are some of the most majestic bodies of water Canada has to offer. I guess it just didn’t fit into the plot…
Image source:Ali Kazal @ Unsplash
Something about Canada
Just a fun fact to end things off: did you know that Canada is actually a massively popular filming location for lots of movies and TV shows? The Handmaid’s Tale, Scream VI, The Boys, Black Mirror, Interstellar, etc. were all filmed in various Canadian cities, towns, and wide open spaces.
Just goes to show how diverse Canada really is, and it’s a landscape that changes with the seasons in dramatic and beautiful ways. A year-round people pleaser, visit Canada with us to hit all these iconic pop-culture spots, and many more.