‘Yellowstone’: Inside the Real-Life Ranch Where the Series Is Filmed

Yellowstone could not exist if the beauty of its real-world counterpart was pushed off to the wayside. The series, which stars Kevin Costner as a Montana rancher, follows the hardships of the midwest while tackling a variety of family issues — all while taking great pride in its astounding imagery. Through the seasons, viewers have remained captivated by the setting’s natural beauty, including the Dutton family’s ranch, and plenty have wondered: Where is Yellowstone filmed?

What is ‘Yellowstone’ about?

'Yellowstone' stars Kevin Costner (John Dutton) and Luke Grimes (Kayce Dutton) on horses in an image from season 3
Kevin Costner and Luke Grimes in a scene from season 3 of ‘Yellowstone’ | Paramount Network

Yellowstone has a plot straight out of a classic western. According to IMDb, it focuses on the Dutton family. Led by Costner’s John, the Duttons own one of the country’s largest ranches and are often fighting with developers, Indigenous groups, and the National Park Service to maintain their land. Like classic prestige soap operas like Dallasthe series shows the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of the all-American family’s struggle. 

The results are, at any time, a family drama, a western, an action film, a statement on American capitalism, and a story of the plight of the Indigenous people whose land was stolen so many years ago. Despite all of this horror, however, the beauty of its natural setting helps show some light in the darkness. As such, creators wanted to make sure that it was not artificial. 

Where is ‘Yellowstone’ filmed?

According to Costner’s interview with Vanity Fair, the key to nailing Yellowstone‘s tone was allowing the natural beauty of the American landscape to unravel on the screen. Plenty of series show us what life is like in a city, and many try to capture rural America by way of a Los Angeles suburb or a set in Vancouver, Canada. Yellowstone is different. 

Rather than creating idyllic landscapes with a computer and some reference photos, the crew traveled all across the midwest to capture its beauty and convey it to the titular location. The results are stunning, as the filming locations add an air of nature documentary to the primetime soap opera. 

“You step outside, and you see running horses and men working, and the weather dictates what you do. I think that was by design,” Costner told Vanity Fair. “[Sheridan’s] a huge fan of authenticity. He wanted us to all really understand what we were getting into. It’s great to show this to people who normally wouldn’t understand that this is still the way of life for a lot of people. I certainly didn’t realize how much it was still such a part of the American West.”

Anyone who has followed Costner’s career knows his devotion to the American West, and bringing that feeling to a modern setting required love for the land that spawned the show’s premise. In order to accomplish this, Yellowstone was filmed at more than 20 locations throughout Utah and Montana in the first three years alone. They moved it all to Montana for season 4. After all, it’s where the show takes place — and the ranch is as much part of it as anything. 

Here’s a look at the real-life ‘Yellowstone’ ranch, where the series was filmed

While the series goes throughout the midwest, much of the drama takes place at the extravagant Montana ranch that Dutton and his family call home, according to Good Housekeeping. The showrunners did not want to recreate Montana and the Midwest; they wanted the beautiful farms, landscapes, and locales to be as much a part of the experience as Costner and the rest of the cast. 

Originally, the crew looked at another state. However, after finding the perfect ranch in Montana, all bets were off. The 5,000-square-foot mansion where it’s filmed is located near Darby, and the land around it gives the series plenty to work with when it comes to exterior shots. 

“The studio wanted to have [the home’s] location in Utah, where most of the filming was done. There was a war-room meeting: Do we go up to this ranch, or do we Scotch-tape locations together? Find a ranch. Find a mountain. Once we all got to Montana, there was no hesitation. It was so obvious,”  location manager Mark Jarrett told the New York Post.

The realism might sometimes run stark contrast to the melodrama on screen, but the results are something beautiful, entertaining, and at times, visually stunning. Yellowstone Season 4 is set to premiere in November 2021, although an exact date has not yet been announced. However, for those who want to re-explore or play catch-up, the first three seasons stream on Paramount+, with other services offering both episodes and seasons for a price. 

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