Copyright 2009 by Mario Vaden
There are several versions online about where the Star Wars episode 6 Endor scene was filmed. I believe the following is correct, based on a reliable sources, including Prof. Silllett, redwood researcher, news sources, and other. Most was not done in Redwood National Park Tall Trees Grove, nor Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
When I first read Jedediah Smith Redwoods or Redwood National Park was the film location for Star Wars Endor, it seemed hard to believe that so much impact would be permitted in a state or national redwood forest.
Also, TallTrees Grove is not in Jedediah Smith Redwoods, for those who may have read something along those lines. That grove is in Redwood National Park near Redwood Creek, requires a permit and gate lock combination code, and would be difficult access for gear. The best known grove in Jedediah Smith is Stout Grove ... but that's no where this took place, either.
Even California State State Parks Facebook page had the wrong locations as late as winter 2013/2014, using old scuttlebutt data remaining in files. So incorrect information has been propagating online for years now.
What I learned: Del Norte county California provided the land of Endor backdrop where rebels and Ewoks fought the evil Empire in Star Wars Return of the Jedi. Lucasfilm shot scenes for moon of Endor near Smith River on Miller-Rellim Redwood Company land April to May, 1982.
In commentary, producer George Lucas said he wanted a primitive look. To take down a technological super-power, rebels and Ewoks used natural resources like stone and wood. "A jungly kind of place, the color of life, a cradle of life environment."
The crew was on Morrison Creek Road, where old-growth redwoods were slated to be logged. Before filming, some ground had to be leveled. "We came in about 11 months ago with bulldozers to level the ground and replant ferns and seeds so we had an area that looked natural" (Kazanjian).
Filming included a chase scene through redwoods, shot by a cameraman walking through the forest. Actors shot their sequences in front of green screen. Throughout battle scenes, redwoods smash to the ground and the shield generator is blown up amidst giant redwoods. "Here it is on film and at least the process entertained everyone before it had to be cut down".
One person relayed from Dennis Muren who worked on the film, that some sideview speeder filming was done along the Avenue of the Giants. A few side by side photos & screenshots online, suggest some steadycam sequences at Owen Cheatham Grove in Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park. That's not Avenue of the Giants, but is relatively close, to the NE of it. See alsoRedwood Film Making
While websurfing one day, I stumbled upon several images someone posted, of the original drawing of the Endor set in the redwood forest. They appear to be hand drawn on large drafting vellum: multiple sheets. Apparently to have been copied as blueprints and distributed to the cast and crew.
The bottom image at right, is a small crop of that posted artifact photo, to illustrate. And here is a link to the page where those Star Wars Endor artifacts were displayed: Endor Hand-Drawn Movie Set for Blueprints
The top image at right, is Howland Hill Giant in Jedediah Smith redwoods - not one from the movie, but about 10 miles away, south of the filming location.
Unlike Jedediah Smith redwoods which still remains as protected old growth, the redwood forest seen in Return of the Jedi, for Endor, has been completely logged and harvested. More or less what you would call a clearcut.