With its mountain vistas and sprawling countrysides, Yellowstone is one of the most beautiful shows on television. Say what you want about the cowboy succession drama, but no other series has its actors riding real horses, lassoing up some cattle, and getting drunk on the views alone. It’s why fans may be shocked to learn that the Paramount Network filmed 70 to 75 percent of Yellowstone‘s scenes on Utah sound stages, right up until Season Four—spending only a fourth of its time actually in Montana. Now entering Season Five, Yellowstone now films exclusively in Big Sky Country.
Surprisingly, The Yellowstone Ranch, with its massive white barns and big “Y” decals, is a real place that you can visit. Nestled some five hours away from Yellowstone National Park, the Chief Joseph Ranch—a functioning cattle ranch in Darby, Montana—is the official location for the Dutton family home. It’s a 6,000-square-foot mansion, and guests can even rent out two cabins there. According to Parade, the 2,500-acre property was homesteaded by settlers in 1880 and named after Chief Joseph, a chief of the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce tribe. Glass tycoon William S. Ford purchased the location in 1914, until it was eventually sold to ranchers Shane and Abigail Libel.
The Libel family has completely bought into the fame of the show, reportedly leaving the “Yellowstone Dutton Ranch” sign on full display all year long. They also rent two cabins to guests when the series isn’t filming—which are rooms that members of the Dutton family live in over the course of the series. On the official website for the ranch, the cabins have even officially been renamed the “Lee Dutton” and “Rip Wheeler” cabins, after the Yellowstone characters that call the Chief Joseph Ranch their home. “We welcome the large number of Yellowstone fans who stop at our gates to take photos of the Dutton Ranch sign,” the family wrote on their website, revealing that they were cold-called to be the official location for the Dutton ranch. “We are humbled and honored that Paramount chose our ranch as the setting of this amazing series.”
The rest of the series films on a 40,000-square-foot space in Missoula, Montana as well as the 2.2 million acres of The Crow Indian Reservation outside Billings, which is the largest reservation in the state. Crow Nation tribal chairman AJ Not Afraid told Variety back in 2018 that the series was “a more honest, accurate portrayal of the modern American Indian that we’ve seen before.” By Season Five, even all the courtroom and government office scenes shoot at the State Capitol Building in Helena. Creator Taylor Sheridan told Deadline during production for Season Four that he was “fortunate that this show shoots on a ranch in Montana,” and that they planned to shoot exclusively on location from then on out.
Well, my fellow Yellowstone fans, I know where my next vacation will be.
Josh Rosenberg is an entertainment writer living in Brooklyn, keeping a steady diet of one movie a day; his work can be found at Spin, Insider, Vibe, and on his personal blog at Roseandblog.com.
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