Lyon Estates Filming Location from “Back to the Future”
See the end for Map and Directions
Now Updated for 2013!
Screenshot from BTTF
This has to be one of the greatest locations for any back to the future fan to visit! If you love what the 80’s movie gateway calls “Movie Archaeology” you will LOVE this site! Marty, still reeling after being shot at on the Peabody’s Twin Pines Ranch, pulls over and can’t believe his eyes… It’s It’s his home! The Lyon Estates! Only… it’s not built yet!
Though it seems a short stretch down the road from the farm in the movie, this spot is about 70 miles away in the northernmost tip of Corona, California. During production this was part of the Alta Dena dairy farm. The area was one of the few unspoiled agricultural areas close to Los Angeles and Orange County. The view was incredible. In fact, until recent years you could turn 360° and see nothing but green hills hemmed in by distant mountains and hills in all directions, with the exception of the water tower from the nearby Women’s Prison.
Location in Feb 2013
Technically, the fields visible in the screenshot are private property. In fact, this spot is located on a gated road. Luckily for all of us Back to the Future fans, they open up the gates every fair-weathered weekend for R/C plane flights in a nearby field.
Hemmed in by the Prado Dam park and a few shooting ranges, the location can only be approached from the north, in Chino. In fact, the water tower in the distance as Marty McFly walks towards Hill Valley is actually IN Chino, at the Chino Women’s Correctional Facility. It’s the home of Manson Family member Patricia Krenwinkel, among other ruffians. Or ruffiettes? Whatever, anyway…
When you get to Chino (se below for map and address) make sure you continue south down Chino-Corona road past the prison. That road will actually continue to the left, but keep going straight south on the small paved road (Cucamonga Ave) that branches off, until you see the gates with the “PRIVATE PROPERTY” sign. It’s just beyond. This is farm country, so although you technically take a legal risk (and mind you, this is your OWN legal risk, you hoodlum!) passing the gate when closed, the site is only a few yards beyond the gate and in all my interactions with farm workers and caretakers and R/C enthusiasts back on this strange road, I’m sure no one will mind if you explain that you’re just there to take a few photos. If anyone sees you at all, which I doubt.
Actually, a few years we had a chance to speak to the caretaker’s wife, who told us that it’s ok to be back there (on the road only mind you, not in their fields) to take photos etc, but she did think the idea was a little nuts, and she warned us that if, in fact, you find the gate open on a weekday, to be careful parking your car out of sight of them, because there’s an extremely high chance you could be locked in!
However, avoid the possibility of trouble altogether and try and make it early (I reccomend 10am-noonish just to make sure the sun isn’t in your pictures) on a Saturday or a Sunday. Very little has changed here, other than some added gates and fences. When we first launched BTTFtour we talked about the gravel still visible from production. Sadly they’ve repaved this stretch of road and gravel from the re-paving is everywhere. The gravel from 1985 is not the gravel you’re seeing entering the gates. It’s all washed away and covered up these days.
And for those as obsessive as we are, we should say the Billboard was built slightly behind and to the right of the right-hand gate visible in our photos. The left gate leads to a clear cut path through the fields that some assume was aligned perfectly between the Lyon Estates sign, but that path used to be underneath both gates. (What was once one field was sold and subdivided since BTTF) The south/right hand field allowed their portion of this dirt road between fields to be plowed over, so make sure you adjust your photographs accordingly to get the perfect shot!
Detail. Photo by Brian Montez.
Of course, once Marty starts walking towards Hill Valley everyone turns to their left and snaps a photo towards the women’s prison. If you want to line up that screenshot correctly, you need to travel a bit further south down the road towards the R/C plane field and turn around. It was shot from the bottom of the hill both so that the horizon covered the visible prison buildings and to give the appearance of greater distance. Brian Montez was the first to report this. It’ll feel wrong at first because you have to pass what used to be a shrub in the film but is now a full grown tree! Keep going til you hit the unmaintained dirt road!
Some of you will wonder, no doubt, why this isn’t included in our menu for the locations from Part II. Simple. Rather than return production to Corona, they re-created the scene on stage 12 at Universal. This not only saved money but allowed much greater freedom for shooting the practical effects and bluescreen for the flying DeLorean. Sorry to burst your bubble, but Doc wasn’t struck by lightning here! Although we act out those scenes every time anyway!
2013 Update: We’re sad to say that though this location remained surrounded by 2 or 3 miles of dairy farms in the past, most are now boarded up, and there are several new housing developmentsencroaching on this area. Visit the site as soon as you can. In Southern California subdivisions are a disease that spreads rapidly, and although there doesn’t appear to be development planned for this small stretch of road, there’s no guarantee the amazing view will be unspoiled for long! If you visit in a Time Machine DeLorean, let us know! We’d love to come meet up with you and take a snapshot!