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Real Life Landmarks In Horizon Zero Dawn

VOICE OVER: Johnny Reynolds WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
Despite its incredible premise and robotic enemies, "Horizon Zero Dawn" recreates a lot of places from our world. For this list, we'll be looking at how Guerilla Games adapted real-life landmarks in Utah, Colorado, and Arizona to fit its post-apocalyptic setting. Our list includes the Red Rocks Ampitheater, Monument Valley, Empower Field at Mile High Stadium, the Pioneers Museum, and more!
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Script written by Johnny Reynolds

Despite its incredible premise and robotic enemies, "Horizon Zero Dawn" recreates a lot of places from our world. For this list, we’ll be looking at how Guerilla Games adapted real-life landmarks in Utah, Colorado, and Arizona to fit its post-apocalyptic setting. Our list includes the Red Rocks Ampitheater, Monument Valley, Empower Field at Mile High Stadium, the Pioneers Museum, and more! Did you know about all these landmarks? Have you ever visited them in person? Let us know in the comments!

Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel


Throughout her journey, Aloy can find many decrepit buildings that not only played a part in this world’s history, but also our own. Found in Colorado Springs, or what the game refers to as the Sacred Lands, the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel is such a place. It naturally acted as a military base before everything fell apart. Here, Aloy can find a corrupted zone and a vantage point that gives you a good look at the chapel. The real-life building was built in 1962 and became a historic landmark in 2004. Known for its unique architecture, it houses areas of worship for various religions, including Catholicism, Buddhism, and Judaism.

Pioneers Museum


Post-apocalyptic games often show humanity at its worst. In “Horizon Zero Dawn,” bandits have set up various camps that Aloy can infiltrate and clear. The first group of bandits Aloy comes across has taken over Alamo Square Park, also located in Colorado Springs. Here is where the historic Pioneers Museum can be found, which holds over 60,000 artifacts. Some pieces come from the Native American tribes of the region like the Cheyenne and the Arapaho. But guests can also learn about other eras from Colorado Springs' history. Unfortunately for Aloy, she can’t take a tour to learn about the world that was. But she can weed out the bandits and give the location to those in need.

Lake Powell


Although it's now home to intimidating machines that would kill you as soon as they look at you, the world of “Horizon” is still filled with beauty. Referred to as Daybrink in the game, this massive lake separates the warring Carja and Shadow Carja tribes. But in our world, the real Lake Powell is a place of joy for many. Located on the Colorado River in Utah and Arizona, it’s the second largest man-made reservoir in the US and a popular vacation spot. It stretches across a wide area and includes several noteworthy features, like the sandstone summit Castle Rock. A Vantage Point takes Aloy up high so you can take in the grand landscape.

Empower Field at Mile High Stadium


This football stadium in Denver, Colorado gets its name from the city being a mile above sea level. Its high elevation spells trouble for most visiting teams. It also spelled trouble for the characters of “Zero Dawn.” Known as the Ring of Metal, it was used by Eclipse members before they attacked and killed many Nora during the Proving. But you actually get to visit the famous stadium later so that Aloy can get sweet revenge. A vantage point tells you that, before society’s collapse, it was used not as a football stadium, but one for a robot-centric game for spectators to enjoy. But for now in our world, it’s simply the home of the Denver Broncos.

Red Rocks Amphitheater


There are plenty of famous concert venues across the US, but not many of them are built out of a rock structure. West of Devil’s Grief, or Denver in the real world, is a place called Red Echoes. Aloy meets her allies here before getting vengeance at the Ring of Steel and can clear a corruption zone of Fire Bellowbacks and Chargers. It’s interesting seeing the stone seating of the Red Rocks Amphitheater overgrown with nature. The venue has hosted some incredible performances since opening in 1941, including U2 for their 1984 concert film. Billboard named Red Rock the top-grossing concert venue in the world for 2021. It’s just too bad no one in “Zero Dawn” wants to put on any shows.

Bridal Veil Falls


Some bandits just really love the landmarks. The two-teeth bandit camp is small, but sits atop one of the prettiest pieces of scenery in the game. The real Bridal Veil Falls overlooks Telluride, Colorado. And the dual waterfalls likely inspired the bandit group’s “two-teeth” name. Over the years, it has attracted a number of gutsy climbers. It’s one of the most difficult places to scale, especially in the winter, though that’s when challenge-seeking daredevils choose to climb it. Luckily for us players, it doesn’t pose much of a threat to Aloy. Bridal Veil Falls is also home to one of the oldest still-operating AC power plants in the US, which provides roughly 25% of Telluride’s electricity.

The Delicate Arch


This landmark is a little tougher to find than others, if only because there’s no story beat or side quest that leads you there. The Arches National Park is located in Grand County, Utah or in the Carja tribe’s home, Sundom, within the game. The park is home to over 2,000 natural stone arches, though its most recognizable is the Delicate Arch, which stands at 52 feet tall. There isn’t a whole lot to do here in-game, save for fighting some machines and taking in the scenery. Guerilla did a wonderful job recreating it. And it’s great to see that the arches are still standing despite the game taking place in the 31st century.

Monument Valley


Known as The Jewel in “Zero Dawn,” this area of the Carja’s Sundom consists of a flourishing jungle and several bodies of water. Part of the Colorado Plateau and located on the Utah-Arizona border, the real-world Monument Valley is better known for its dry landscape and gigantic sandstone buttes. But even if you’ve never been there, digitally or otherwise, you’ve likely seen Monument Valley at some point. It’s been used to represent the Old West in a plethora of movies, from the classics of John Ford to more modern releases like “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” Additionally, Monument Valley is sacred to the Navajo Nation, as it lies within the territory of their reservation.

King’s Peak


Players can’t access much of this area until late in the game. And even then the locale is much different from its real world counterpart due to story events that caused the mountain to crack in two. However, there is a Vantage Point that gives you a jaw-droppingly gorgeous view of the land below. The real-world King’s Peak is the highest point in Utah at 13,528 feet and part of the Ashley National Forest. It’s become a popular place for hiking, snowmobiling, and nature-watching a variety of animals like elk, mountain goats, otters, and cougars. But for Aloy, watching is out of the question. In the game, this area is home to Stalkers, Ravagers, and a particularly annoying Stormbird.

Bryce Canyon


One of the biggest cities “Horizon Zero Dawn” has to offer is Sunfall, home to the Shadow Carja. Sunfall sits in what used to be Bryce Canyon National Park, which is found in southwestern Utah. The canyon’s most distinct feature is its collection of hoodoos, naturally occurring rock spires. You can go there in the game and take in their unique structure with little interruption. There’s also a vantage point that gives you a view of the Bryce Orbital Station, which only exists in the game’s world. The park is a popular hiking destination as it offers a variety of trails and wildlife, including three endangered species. And the air is so clear that on some days, visitors can see up to 160 miles away.
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