If you're a fan of the series "Yellowstone," you've probably been struck by the impressive nature of Dutton Ranch, the massive (and impossibly beautiful) ranch owned by Kevin Costner's John Dutton of the Dutton family on the show. You might assume that Dutton Ranch is merely a product of Hollywood magic, a combination of different locations, sets, and special effects, but in point of fact it is more or less a real place: Chief Joseph Ranch in Montana's Bitterroot Valley.
Chief Joseph Ranch has a long and storied history going back to 1880, when it was first homesteaded by settlers. The 2,500-acre spread was then purchased in 1914 by Howard Clark Hollister and William Ford, who commissioned a 6,000 square-foot lodge that's still standing today (you can see it on "Yellowstone," on which it plays the role of John's main home on the ranch). It changed hands a few times in the intervening years, eventually falling into the possession of Shane Libel, who received a call from the show's producers a few years ago asking if he'd allow the show to be filmed on the ranch. He said yes, and the rest is TV western history.
Here's how the Chief Joseph Ranch site characterizes its joining of forces with "Yellowstone":
"The Readers Digest version of the story is that it was a cold call. We did not have the ranch listed as a film location. We are humbled and honored that Paramount chose our ranch as the setting of this amazing series."
There's not a ton of info out there about Libel – a quick Google search of his name will return mostly results about Yellowstone and Chief Joseph Ranch as it relates to the immensely popular show, but the ranch itself has lots of lore and fascinating info surrounding it. It's a working ranch where fans of the show can visit (and snap a photo of the Dutton Ranch sign, left up all year round for obvious reasons) and even rent a cabin and stay overnight.
"Yellowstone" has obviously been good for the ranch's tourism business, and its website includes a lot of information about how it's used on the show, including a breakdown of all the specific locations on the ranch that should look familiar to hardcore "Yellowstone" fans: "The lodge great room, kitchen, back porch, front porch, helipad, and yard" are all regular filming locations, as well as several other spots on the expansive property.
Per the Chief Joseph Ranch site:
"We welcome the large number of Yellowstone fans who stop at our gates to take photos of the Dutton Ranch sign. Please be courteous and not block the driveway. During filming there will be security at the gates. The Security company will not allow photos at that time due to the need to keep the drive open for cast and crew. "
It might be hard to believe, but all these locations exist in real life on the same ranch – an unusual situation where film and television production are concerned.
Chief Joseph Ranch is now a popular destination among the many fans of "Yellowstone." And fascinatingly, those fans can include the real-life Dutton Ranch's owner among their number. According to a radio interview with Shane Libel on XL Country 100.7 in Montana, the ranch's owner described his own unique experience as he watches "Yellowstone" at home:
"The most surreal thing in the world, and the most humbling thing in the world is when you're sitting in your own living room watching a show that's filmed in your house."
If you're a "Yellowstone" fan as well, it's probably hard not to feel envious!
For now, you can check out Chief Joseph Ranch from above thanks to the cool video below, courtesy of GravityKnightFlying on YouTube: