Yellowstone: The Beauty Behind the Real Life Filming Locations
Part of Yellowstone’s allure is undoubtedly its picturesque depiction of the Great Plains. Get to know the real life locations of this Neo-Western here.
Through four seasons, Yellowstone has spoken to audiences because of its vision of the American dream. It’s about family. It’s about building a dynasty. It’s about the most beautiful collection of powerful women and denim-clad cowboys in the entire United States.
The only other aspect of Paramount Network’s massive Neo-Western drama that could overshadow the collective beauty of the cast, is the scenic beauty of Montana, where the show takes place. The massive sweeping plains and purple mountain’s majesty represents both the freedom to live in a piece of untamed nature, and the financial security to do so.
Yet in a bit of atypical Hollywood magic, often the perfectly framed postcard-like shots of the American landscape are actually in Montana. For those international viewers or newcomers to the show curious about where it films, or perhaps those planning a trip to that part of America to breathe in the open air, allow Den of Geek to show you the sites.
It may need to be explicitly spelled out for those unfamiliar with American geography, that ironically, the Yellowstone ranch isn’t exactly right next door to the iconic Yellowstone National Park. There are parts of the massive national park that extend into Montana, where Yellowstone takes place, but it’s not as close as you may think.
Yellowstone National Park, home to the famous “Old Faithful” geyser, is largely in the Northwest corner of Wyoming. Granted, the nearest town is named West Yellowstone, Montana, but the town of Darby, Montana, where the show takes place, is 377 miles (over 600 kilometers) from the park.
Many of the buildings you see on screen, however, are as real as real can be. Part of the appeal of the show is the political drama, and there are several story threads that take place in or around the Montana Governor’s office. That building, which also serves as filming location for all the courtroom scenes that frequented season 4, is the Montana State Capitol building in Helena, Montana.
Youngest Dutton son, Kayce (Luke Grimes) can often be found in his Montana Livestock Association office. The exterior of that building was filmed in Hamilton, Montana, which pairs up with some of the other town shots in a different state to create the illusion of a complete small town in Montana.
An exciting chase sequence in the season four premiere spilled into the country roads of Missoula, Montana, and is quite accurate in terms of reflecting the fictional geography of the show. Kayce’s childhood home and downtown office are quite close, in both the show and reality, as all three locations; Darby, Hamilton, and Missoula are within an hour’s drive of one another.
Most of the breathtaking scenery featured in the series was filmed within the Bitterroot Valley around Darby, specifically a portion of the Rocky Mountains that run along the border between Montana and Idaho. The iconic Chief Joseph Ranch in Darby, Montana doubles as the fictional Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, and its scope and history reflects the fictional Dutton family legacy that creator Taylor Sheridan has built over the years as well.
Built between 1914 and 1917, this historic landmark is the quintessential backdrop for the series, and houses all the impressive stables, farm houses, and paddocks seen on the show. The Chief Joseph Ranch actually rents out some of the rooms during the off seasons when the show isn’t filming, but don’t expect the interiors to be a perfect match to the Dutton ranch. The interior shots of Yellowstone ranch for the first three seasons were all shot on a soundstage.
So if you do choose to book a visit to Chief Joseph Ranch, you can still bask in the beautiful surroundings, which is certainly more than enough, or perhaps you want to visit John Dutton’s (Kevin Costner) favorite American diner? That’s just a small road trip (less than an hour) to Florence, Montana. There you’ll find the real Glenn’s Diner, which has become quite a tourist attraction since featured prominently in season 4.
Those aforementioned soundstages serving as many of the interior locations are found at the Utah Film Studio in Park City, Utah, which again, is quite a trek from Montana. Yet the show has used “The Beehive State” frequently when it comes to creating the reality of both small town mountain America and the bustling enterprise of the business world that often come crashing together.
The antagonistic mega-corporation Schwartz & Meyer which is constantly trying to take the Dutton Family down and tear the ranch apart is filmed on location in Ogden, Utah, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of the Great Salt Lake.
Ogden is predominantly known as a railroad town, but it is surrounded by those magnificent mountains we see so often, and offers tremendous hiking and mountain biking trails to locals and visitors alike. There have been several other scenes set in the streets of the city filmed on Ogden’s epicenter on 25th street: a three-block district filled with great restaurants, art galleries, and shops that have been featured throughout the show for various locations.
Other filming locations in Utah have served as Dan Jenkin’s (Danny Huston) lodge, golf course, and a few of the early rodeo sequences.
There has been a considerable shift towards the true American south in the latest season, predominantly because of the subplot featuring Yellowstone hand Jimmy (Jefferson White) and his journey to manhood at the legendary 6666 ranch. There is a proposed spinoff that is set to take place on the Four Sixes, and so that area has become a new favorite for the production.
That ranch, much like the Chief Joseph, is a functioning and legendary staple of Western America, boasting a whopping 350,000 acres of wide open country.
Texas has also given us some of the larger rodeo sequences this past season. As you can imagine, Texas sports quite a few rodeo competitions and horse shows, and Sheridan, a native Texan, is leaning more and more towards filming in his home state. Once in awhile, they occasionally sneak in a rodeo from Arizona, but the Yellowstone universe is decidedly heading south.
As Yellowstone enters its fifth season, and if the spinoff moves forward, fans of the show will be seeing much more of Texas in the future in an attempt to compete with the epic beauty of Montana and Utah.
Yellowstone season 5 premieres Sunday, Nov. 13 on Paramount Network.