The breakaway hit show “Yellowstone” is one of the most popular television series, but not everyone’s a fan. The show is bringing lots of attention to Montana – maybe too much.
Though this has long been cattle country, residents of Montana say they are seeing a lot more cowboy hats recently. And more outsiders are moving in, eager to experience that glorious ranch life they’re seeing on TV.
Read on to find out what effects this smash-hit show is having on Montana.
What Is the TV Show “Yellowstone?”
The Paramount series “Yellowstone,” created by Taylor Sheridan, debuted in 2018. It tells the story of the prominent Dutton family that owns Montana’s biggest ranch.
The show is set in modern times but traces the family’s long history of trials and tribulations, often through flashbacks. A recurring theme is how the Duttons have had to fight repeatedly to hold on to their way of life. That includes their family property, a few hundred thousand acres of land next to Yellowstone National Park.
Who Stars in “Yellowstone?”
Veteran actor Kevin Costner is enjoying a surge in popularity with his leading role as family patriarch John Dutton. He’s the stoic center of an ensemble cast that includes Luke Grimes, Kelsey Asbille, Cole Hauser, Wes Bentley, and Gil Birmingham.
Where Is “Yellowstone” Filmed in Montana?
On the show, the Duttons live in a fictitious part of Montana called Paradise Valley. They describe it somewhat vaguely as being east of Bozeman.
There’s a real-life ranch that serves as the setting for the Duttons’ family spread. Much of the filming takes place at the Chief Joseph Ranch. It’s located just outside the town of Darby, in the Bitterroot River Valley. This location is about 200 miles west of Bozeman and about 60 miles south of Missoula.
However, there are numerous other filming locations in and outside of Montana.
Many scenes, including those inside courtrooms and at the state capital, are shot in Helena. The Crow Indian Reservation, in southern Montana, stands in for the fictional Broken Rock Indian Reservation. In addition, filmmakers have also captured scenes in Utah and Texas.
Pro Tip: Traveler’s be warned! The Yellowstone “Zone of Death” is quite a dangerous spot.
Why Is “Yellowstone” So Popular?
The sweeping big-sky scenery plays a big role in the popularity of “Yellowstone.” So do the grittily glamorous portrayals of the cowboy lifestyle itself. On those levels, the show gives viewers a dose of rugged romanticism like classic western movies do.
There’s also a soap opera aspect to the show. With each new episode, there are new tangles involving seemingly endless business, legal, and political disputes. (Spoiler alert: They don’t stop at murder.) And mirroring today’s society, those political arguments don’t always fall neatly and clearly onto one side or the other.
Another reason some tune in to “Yellowstone” is the music they hear in the background. The surprising soundtrack is eclectic but leans heavily toward country and Americana, boosting many performers’ careers.
Are Locals Sick of the Show “Yellowstone?”
While “Yellowstone” has caught fire with millions of viewers, young and old, some people give it the cold shoulder. It’s safe to say that many Montanans are over the exposure that has come their way with the series’ success.
One reason is that more people see the allure of Montana on the screen and want to experience it themselves. More visitors is a shot in the arm for many businesses, but too many of them can become a pain.
At first, it’s flattering to get all that attention. But it quickly becomes bothersome to locals who suddenly have trouble finding tables or parking spaces.
Some fans of the show have wanted to put down their own roots in Montana, including rich people wanting to buy ranches. Unfortunately, this bigger demand for real estate can price many homes out of reach to regular folks.
On the positive side of things, “Yellowstone” does consistently showcase the gorgeous beauty of Montana’s wild mountains and prairies.
Is the TV Show “Yellowstone” a True Depiction of Montana?
If you’re planning to visit Montana, keep in mind that “Yellowstone” isn’t a documentary by any means. Some aspects ring true, while others aren’t even close.
The cowboy culture is big there, yes, but it’s just a part of what Montana’s all about. For instance, outdoor recreation is huge around the state. There are also two college towns with vibrant dining and nightlife scenes.
The weather is much more extreme in reality, too. While the big skies are usually sunny on TV, Montana residents are used to enduring bitter cold and heavy snowfall.
Something else that seems to be underestimated is the vastness of the state. While characters on the show easily zip over to Billings and back, it’s really a four-hour round trip from Bozeman. And that’s a short journey by Montana standards. After all, the state is nearly 600 miles wide and more than 300 miles from north to south.
Can You Visit the “Yellowstone” Ranch in Montana?
Stop by the real-life ranch, and you’ll likely find some activity, maybe even a group of fans congregating outside the gates.
The familiar log cabin-style mansion from the show is a private residence, so it’s off-limits to visitors. The owners do rent out two cabins to overnight guests, who have the run of the property. They can ride horses on the ranch and do some fishing along the riverbank.
This is only when the cameras aren’t rolling, however, so don’t expect an all-access pass to a film set.
Pro Tip: If you want to visit Yellowstone, you’ll need to know What Airport Do You Fly Into for Yellowstone?
Is “Yellowstone Worth” Watching?
As millions of captivated viewers can attest, “Yellowstone” is a gripping drama with a storyline as sprawling as the landscape.
The show offers tremendous acting performances, stunning scenery, and an inspiring soundtrack.
Maybe it’s your particular cup of tea, or maybe it’s not. But it’s certainly worth watching to find out. You may easily be hooked like so many others.
Just don’t tune in expecting reality TV.
Have you ever watched Yellowstone? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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