If you haven’t already seen it, The Last of Us is a post-apocalyptic tale of survival amid a zombie outbreak, and the world is in love. Although that could have something to do with Chilean-born American actor, Pedro Pascal. Either way, the HBO show, which you can watch on Binge in Australia is a hit, and everyone is talking about it — including us.
The show follows Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) as they trek across America, battling clickers (zombies), and disturbed humans as a result of the post-apocalyptic world they live in. From Boston to Kansas City, and Colorado, every episode showcases a beautifully devastating landscape. While the audience sees an American landscape, in reality, Joel, Ellie and an entire film crew traversed more than 180 locations in Canada over a year.
From big cityscapes to small-town ski towns, here are five locations from The Last of Us, you can actually visit. We promise there are no clickers or monsters of any type.
Over the course of nine episodes, we (as the audience) are presented with a dystopian world, where buildings bombed by the government are left to be consumed by vines, and small towns are essentially ghost towns, left frozen in time. Of those nine episodes, there is only one instance we see a fairly well-put-together town. It’s certainly the most attractive set, backdropped by snowy peaks, and protected under a blanket of twinkly lights overhead. In The Last of Us universe, the town is Jackson, Wyoming, but in real life, it’s shot in Canmore, Alberta.
Canmore is every bit as charming as the show depicts. Even Pascal raved about the location in an interview with tech news site MobileSyrup.
“Every inch of Canmore was just this magical little town … with really great fudge,” he said.
Canmore is minutes away from Banff National Park, making it a popular place to stay for travellers exploring Banff. It’s much cheaper than staying in Banff. There are five world-renowned ski resorts, and six stunning golf courses, with views at every turn. You can go dog sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and caving in winter, or hiking in the spring. There are endless caves to explore, trails to ride, and lakes to admire.
After all that exploring, the moment you drive into Canmore, you feel the love of a small town. No wonder The Last of Us was shot here. We needed a safe haven for our beloved characters, even if it was only for an episode.
Another small town that was featured in the show is Fort Macleod, located two hours south of Calgary. Although this town is no stranger to the cameras. Its historic Main Street has been the backdrop for several movies including Brokeback Mountain, Interstellar, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife. In The Last of Us, Fort Macleod was reinterpreted into a 2003-era downtown Austin.
The small town is known for its events from The South Country Fair to antique shows, film festivals, and more. 20 minutes outside of town is one of the province’s six UNESCO World Heritage sites, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, which was used by Indigenous hunters for millennia. It’s the site of one of the greatest and most well-preserved buffalo jumps in North America. Travellers will also find a nine-hole golf course, parks and trails to explore. Venture to Oldman Dam on the Oldman River, and go kayaking, fishing, or picnic on the banks.
Calgary, the more well-known destination of this round-up became the set for a few different scenes, including the Boston quarantine zone and shows up again in episode two, where the characters travel to the Massachusetts State House. Calgary’s landmarks also reappear in episode three, including its Fish Creek Provincial Park, Canada’s second-largest urban park, and Heritage Park Historical Village, which appears in episode six, when the characters meet in the Wainwright Hotel.
As the largest city in Alberta, Calgary is a popular destination for travellers seeking a city adventure, thriving with nightlife, festivals, and arts and culture. Get rowdy at a hockey game, skate the Olympic Oval, walk with King Penguins at the zoo, or eat your way through the city’s dining institutions and up-and-comers. When the sun dips below the horizon, stumble into a bar to find live music and an electric atmosphere.
The capital city of Alberta makes an appearance in The Last of Us, episode two, acting as the backdrop for many scenes including the downtown area the characters meander through. In the show, it looks rough and desolate, but in reality, Edmonton is a historic city, flanked by a lush wilderness. If you want to explore the old buildings from the show, take a guided walking tour through its streets.
From the first snowfall to experiencing 18 hours of sunlight a day in summer, Edmonton is a unique place to visit. It has sports bars and trendy restaurants but on the other hand, it has Elk Island National Park known for dark starry nights and big buffalo. You can camp, kayak, snowshoe, or hike its parks during the day, and let the sea of neon lights lead you to a downtown bar for live music and a drink.
There are many gasp moments in The Last of Us, but episode eight was supercharged with drama and “hold your breath” moments. Including admiring the incredible scenery Joel and Ellie found themselves in. Turns out, the vast green pastures were that of Waterton Lakes National Park, a breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site in Alberta, Canada.
Apart from being the site Ellie survived a harrowing near-death experience, Waterton is an idyllic destination for those who appreciate nature. The hiking here is world-famous. You can embark on multi-day treks across blue lakes and snow-capped mountains or climb your way to the top for sweeping views on shorter hikes. A few highlights to add to your list include Bear’s Hump, Linnet Lake, Low Bertha Falls, Bertha, Crypt, and Tamarack. Although if adventure is not calling, settle into town for some shopping and dining.
The iconic scene where Ellie sees a mass grave is actually the site of a popular wedding venue. Ironic, right? Willow Lane Barn, near the town of Olds, is a family-owned wedding venue. The barn is nestled between waving wheat fields and sits adjacent to a working farm. Brides have had their ceremonies in the same field depicted in the show.