The Real Dutton Ranch: Yellowstone’s Backdrop Isn’t All Hollywood Magic

The Real Dutton Ranch: Yellowstone's Backdrop Isn't All Hollywood Magic

Over the past few years, Yellowstone has become just as synonymous with the Dutton family as with our country’s first national park. To many, the word conjures up a picture of native wildlife against the backdrop of forests, canyons, hot springs and geysers. But when fans of the Paramount Network’s blockbuster show hear Yellowstone mentioned, we can’t help but gossip about the fictional (and dysfunctional) family we just can’t get enough of and the spectacular landscape of their sprawling Montana ranch.

Interestingly, the property so many of us know as Yellowstone Dutton Ranch is a real-life historic landmark known as the Chief Joseph Ranch. The iconic white barns, bunkhouse, trapper’s cabin and lodge of the Chief Joseph Ranch are used to film most of the show’s indoor scenes. Located in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley near the Idaho border, the original land was homesteaded by settlers in 1880. In 1914, the property was purchased by two men from Ohio – glass tycoon William S. Ford and a federal judge named Howard Clark Hollister – and it became known as the Ford-Hollister Ranch.

A thriving apple orchard at the time it was bought, logs and stones native to the land were used to build the 6,000 square foot rustic lodge circa 1917. The lodge was built in the same style as the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park and the Lodges at Glacier National Park. Eventually, the three massive barns would be added to the property and the apple trees replaced with the largest herd of Holstein cattle west of the Mississippi.

The 2,500 acre ranch was sold in the early 1950s and renamed the Chief Joseph Ranch, in honor of the great Nez Perce Indian chief who traveled the land with his tribe throughout the 1800s. Today, the Chief Joseph Ranch is a working guest ranch, and cabins are available to rent when Yellowstone is not filming. Depending on the season, guests visiting the scenic area where the show is filmed can enjoy an abundance of recreational activities that include fishing, horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, and more.

For fans of the show, I hope you find this information explains more about the place where the series is filmed. While you anxiously await season 4 of Yellowstone, let this video of hay cutting and bailing on the Chief Joseph Ranch grounds from a few years ago, tide you over until the show’s return.

If the show’s intrigue has you entertaining the idea of moving out West or buying a ranch elsewhere, there are many beautiful ranches for sale across the United States. Whether you’re looking for fewer than 10 acres for privacy and seclusion, a ranchette with pasture land for raising livestock and horses, or a luxury ranch with a full complement of recreational features, RANCHFLIP showcases many options for ranch living. Owning a ranch can bring a myriad of benefits and enjoyment. It can be transformed into a profitable business as well as a private retreat- or both.

This content may not be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, in part or in whole, without written permission of LANDTHINK. Use of this content without permission is a violation of federal copyright law. The articles, posts, comments, opinions and information provided by LANDTHINK are for informational and research purposes only and DOES NOT substitute or coincide with the advice of an attorney, accountant, real estate broker or any other licensed real estate professional. LANDTHINK strongly advises visitors and readers to seek their own professional guidance and advice related to buying, investing in or selling real estate.

About the author

Jonathan Goode

Jonathan is passionate about helping people buy and sell land. He is an associate broker with Southeastern Land Group, LLC (SELG) and is the Responsible Broker for the company in Mississippi. Jonathan is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC), working with Southeastern Land Group (AlaLandCo) since 2008, serving Alabama and Mississippi. He is a member of the Alabama and Mississippi chapters of the Realtor’s Land Institute (RLI), and is currently serving as Vice President of the Alabama Chapter. Jonathan specializes in marketing rural properties online, and is a contributor for, writing articles focused on helping people buying and selling rural land.

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