The hit Western drama Yellowstone takes place in the valleys and foothills of Montana, and many of the show’s scenes were shot in the scenic state.
A large part of the appeal of the hit drama Yellowstone is the escapism of its glorified cowboy lifestyle, which is heavily influenced by the breathtaking vistas and picturesque western valleys. Much of the action takes place in Montana, which is so unique in its topography and ecosystem that it would be hard to substitute any other part of the country for the genuine article. In order to get the most authentic imagery possible for Montana, Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan shot a majority of the show in the very locations in which the action is set.
While there are some small substitutions in the precise spots, Yellowstone’s filming locations, right down to the building interiors, are authentically Western. The commercialization of Montana is one of the driving plot points of Yellowstone, and the fight to keep it pristine is the primary struggle for its central character, Kevin Costner’s John Dutton. It’s fitting, then, that eight locations throughout Montana make up a majority of the spots where Yellowstone was filmed.
Chief Joseph Ranch, Montana
There’s no better way to depict a Montana cowboy ranch than with a Montana cowboy ranch. Scenes at the show’s Yellowstone Dutton Ranch were shot at Chief Joseph Ranch in Darby, Montana, which is roughly 90 minutes outside Missoula. The scenic valley in which the ranch is nestled is as authentic as it gets when it comes to Montana ranches, with sunsets setting over the real-world Trapper Peak and the Bitterroot River Valley.
Per the Chief Joseph Ranch website, the land on which the ranch sits was previously inhabited by the Salish Native Americans — just as the Dutton Ranch was, as was revealed by the ending of 1883. The valley where the ranch is located was actually part of the path that Lewis and Clark traveled on during their famous expedition West in 1805. Since it was originally established as the Shelton Ranch in 1884, the land and lodges have changed hands many times.
The ranch operates mostly as a tourist destination and lodging facility now, and it typically accepts reservations to stay in one of the lodges on the ranch’s property. Don’t pull out the calendar just yet though; there are no more reservations available for 2023. When there is availability, Yellowstone fans can expect to shell out between $1,200 and $1,500 per night to stay in one of the cabins seen in the show.
When John Dutton becomes governor of Montana in Yellowstone season 5, his attention shifts from the Dutton Ranch to the state capital, Helena, where the governor’s office is. The cast and crew of Yellowstone did travel to the state capital and filmed scenes for the show’s governor’s office right in the Montana State Capitol building. John’s swearing-in ceremony was set in the Capitol Building in Helena, although its filming location was shifted a bit. Per Trip Savvy, it was actually shot in the Missoula County Courthouse.
Crow Indian Reservation, Montana
Right next to the Yellowstone ranch is the Broken Rock Reservation, where Thomas Rainwater acts as chairman. The scenes on the Broken Rock Reservation were shot at the Crow Indian Reservation, Montana’s largest reservation. As the name indicates, the land is home to the Crow tribe, which still manages a large herd of bison on the reservation. Much of Yellowstone’s early conflict involves Rainwater directly, with many scenes filmed in the show’s Tribal Casino. Those scenes were shot on the Crow Indian Reservation, with the Apsaalooke Nights Casino standing in for the Tribal Casino.
After shooting a majority of the first three seasons in Utah, Sheridan elected to move most of Yellowstone’s production to Montana. According to KPAX in Montana, Sheridan purchased a 40,000-square-foot space on 100 acres just outside Missoula to use for filming. The space allows for customization of filming options, and was used in the production of Yellowstone seasons 4 and 5.
With production moving exclusively to Montana, Missoula is heavily featured in the latter two seasons. In addition to more general city shots, Missoula is home to Ruby’s Café, which acted as the backdrop for the intense diner shootout scene involving John and Rip Wheeler. Hospital scenes for the show were shot at the Missoula Community Medical Center, and Glen’s Café in Missoula is where John is a regular (and consistently orders Salisbury steaks).
South of Missoula is the small town of Hamilton, Missouri. Hamilton was founded by copper magnate Marcus Daly in the late 1800s, and it’s actually Daly’s extravagant mansion that stands in for the governor’s mansion in Yellowstone. According to IMDB, the area directly outside of Hamilton was also the location of Kayce’s car chase, during which he pursued the assailants who attacked him and his family.
While Missoula has been acting as home base for the later seasons, Ogden, Utah was the central location for many of the scenes shot in the first three seasons of Yellowstone. Per IMDB, The idyllic ski town’s streets and shops acted as the backdrop for much of the city-based action in Yellowstone season 3, including the offices of Beth’s employer Schwartz & Meyer. The bar frequented by Beth and the rest of the ranchers is The Outlaw Saloon, a real bar that typically hosts live country music (as it does in the show).
Ogden’s Pioneer Stadium stands in as one of the rodeo locations shown in the show. However, many of the rodeo scenes from seasons 1-3 of Yellowstone were shot an hour south of Ogden, in Spanish Fork, Utah. Specifically, the scenes were shot at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds, which still hosts rodeo events regularly.
Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah is one of the more famous ski towns in the Rockies, and it lies roughly 20 miles south of Salt Lake City. Just as Dan Jenkins envisioned for the valley in which the Dutton Ranch is located, Park City explodes with the tourist season. Park City is home to the Sundance Film Festival every January, and its slopes have even hosted the skiing and snowboarding events for the 2002 Winter Olympics. In Yellowstone, the scenes at Jenkins’ luxury lodge were shot at the Nicklaus Clubhouse, which is still a thriving dinner hot spot thanks to its incredible views.
After being sent away from the Dutton Ranch in order to become a better cowboy, fan-favorite Jimmy Hurdstram finds himself at the 6666 Ranch in Guthrie, Texas. The ranch is exactly as sprawling as it is in the show, and is still a fully operational cattle ranch to this day. 6666 Ranch covers over 350,000 acres in West Texas and is so large that it remains nearly isolated from towns and cities. That makes it ideal for production, and it makes scenes from Yellowstone appear to have a sprawling, never-ending country backdrop.
Part of the reason that the ranch was featured in Yellowstone — and will be the setting of the subsequent spinoff 6666 — is because Sheridan is part of the buyer group that now owns the real 6666 Ranch. Per Texas Monthly, Sheridan and his buyer group purchased the massive ranch in 2021. Given his involvement, chances are good the ranch will continue to act as a filming location for the current shows that Sheridan has in development.