Gunsmoke had many different filming locations in its 20-season run, but most of the early seasons were filmed at Melody Ranch and the CBS Studio Center.
Gunsmoke was one of the original Western television shows which really set the tone for the entire genre.
In the beginning, many of the outdoor scenes of Gunsmoke were filmed at Melody Ranch. But later on, the producers eventually used a range of filming locations all over the United States.
Gunsmoke and its role in classic Western television
The Gunsmoke television show was based on a successful Western radio drama show by the same name, and was adapted for the small screen by director, Norman Macdonnell and writer John Meston.
The drama series, which first started airing in 1955, followed United States Marshal Matt Dillon as he worked to maintain law and order in the small town of Dodge City, Kansas.
In its heyday, Gunsmoke managed to score the top spot in Nielsen’s Top 10 list for more than ten seasons straight.
And although Gunsmoke was not the first Western show to air on television, it did introduce many of the tropes which were associate with this genre to this day.
The show also gave quite a few aspiring actors their start, including now-big names like Beau Bridges, Bette Davis, Gary Busey, Jodie Foster and many more.
All of the locations at which Gunsmoke was filmed
By the time that Gunsmoke aired its final episode in 1975, it had been on the air for more than 20 years and had aired 635 episodes in total.
Moreover, although this 20-year long story of Marshal Matt Dillon took place in Dodge City, the majority of the show was filmed outside of Kansas.
Gunsmoke’s fictionalized version of Dodge City became such an important part of popular culture- and television history that few people actually realize that this is where the expression “Get out of Dodge” originated from.
However, even though this Kansas town may have been the fictional backdrop of the story, James Arness (who portrayed Matt Dillon) revealed that in reality, most of the outdoor scenes of the show were shot at Melody Ranch.
Melody Ranch is a studio in Santa Clarita Valley, California, which has been in operation since 1915 and was a popular choice for many old Western film and television sets.
Later on, the Gunsmoke team traveled to other locations for filming in order to accommodate the growing narrative.
Where were the indoor scenes of Gunsmoke filmed?
Although Matt Dillon could often be seen travelling across vast, open landscapes in Gunsmoke, most of the show’s memorable locations, which include Miss Kitty’s Long Branch Saloon and Doc Adams’ office, were actually indoors.
Most of the “indoor” scenes of Gunsmoke were filmed at a special studio lot at the CBS Studio Center in California.
Some of the sets used to bring Dodge City’s storefronts to life were built specifically for Gunsmoke, while others were borrowed from other CBS Westerns.
Other Gunsmoke filming locations
Although places like Melody Ranch and the CBS Studio Centre were used to film many of the outdoor and indoor scenes of Gunsmoke, the producers also often ventured outside of these locations for filming.
Some of the other locations that were reportedly used in the filming of Gunsmoke are the Old Tucson Studios in Arizona, the Paramount Ranch working movie ranch in California and the Kern River Valley.
This also includes Iverson Ranch, The Janss Conejo Ranch in Thousand Oaks, the Adobe Western Railroad, Randsburg, Joshua Tree National Park, and even Pioneertown.
The Gunsmoke filming locations which are still open to this day
Gunsmoke used scenes from quite a few filming locations all around the United States over the course of its 20 seasons.
But if you really want to get a feel for what walking around the iconic Dodge City dusty streets would feel like in real life, your best bet is to visit Melody Ranch Studio in California or Johnson Canyon near Kanab, Utah.
Melody Ranch is still being used as a motion picture studio to this day, and it features a 22-acre lot, with studios which reach up to 22,000 square feet.
This is a real must-visit location for fans of the Western genre and it even has a museum with memorabilia from shows and films like “The Dukes of Hazzard“, “Deadwood“, “Rambo“, “Bronco Billy“, “Dirty Harry” and more, which were also filmed on the lot.
Johnson Canyon, on the other hand, has an impressive replica of the Gunsmoke set, which can still be viewed and enjoyed from the road, even though some of the buildings have fallen into disrepair since they were first built in 1870.