Montana Filming Locations for Yellowstone TV Show and Spin-Offs
Montana has been making headlines recently thanks to pop culture’s newest fandom TV series: Yellowstone. This western drama series, which follows the lives of the Dutton family and their ranch, has taken the world by storm since its premiere in 2018. It’s also filmed in our favorite state: Montana!
Originally filmed outside the state in which the show takes place, now Montana is front and center in recent seasons. Spin-offs series of Yellowstone, 1883 and 1923, also have filming locations around Montana.
Where is the Dutton Ranch Located?
Let’s start with the big one though: the Dutton Ranch filming location.
Watchers of Yellowstone know that Paradise Valley is the area where the Dutton’s ranch is located and fought over. However, the actual ranch that serves as the background for many of the scenes for the Yellowstone is located in Bitterroot Valley.
Both Bitterroot Valley and Paradise Valley are surrounded by mountain ranges and have a river flowing through them so this change up of filming location vs. storyline works. When planning your trip to Yellowstone filming locations, be aware that the nearest big city to Bitterroot Valley is Missoula, not Bozeman (the city often mentioned in the TV show).
So where exactly in the Bitterroot Valley is the famous Dutton Ranch? That would be the charming small town of Darby, MT.
Darby is on the southern end of the Bitterroot Valley and is surrounded by forests, towering mountains, and world-class fishing spots.
The production team has been filming in various locations around Darby, including local ranches, wilderness, and streams. They have also used the town’s historic buildings and streets to recreate the look and feel of a small Western town since Darby has an old-west feel.
Darby is an excellent setting for Yellowstone, which showcases the rugged beauty of the American West. Plus, making it more fun for out-of-town visitors is the main street running through Darby, which has an old-west feel.
Chief Joseph Ranch Filming Location
You’ll want to spend time along Main Street since you won’t be hanging out much at the actual ranch filming location, which is called Chief Joseph Ranch.
The property is closed to visitors, unless you’re spending $1,000+ to spend the night there when filming isn’t going on.
Not all hope is lost for Yellowstone fanatics without a cabin reservation, though. You can still see the telltale white and green barn as you drive past the gate. But to see more, such as Rip’s cabin, the Dutton’s main house where Kevin Costner’s character lives, and the barn up close, you’ll need to book a few nights at the ranch (minimum stay of three nights is required).
It is expensive to stay there, but I’m sure worth it for true fans who want to get away from it all. And no, you can’t stay there while filming is happening (though wouldn’t that be cool)!
The residents of Darby have been welcoming to the Yellowstone cast and crew, and many have even had the opportunity to be extras on the show. The production has brought an influx of jobs and tourism to the area, boosting the local economy.
It has also put Darby on the map as a must-see destination for Yellowstone fans and nature enthusiasts alike.
As always, remember Darby is more than a filming location; the town is where people live so be respectful of the buildings and land. Even the Chief Joseph Ranch is a family-run ranch – it’s not some Hollywood owned compound. The owners ended up getting cold-called about having the ranch be a filming location and the rest of history! But when filming is not in session, it is the owner’s home and place of business.
Always follow Leave No Trace when exploring Darby or any of the other areas listed in this article.
Butte: Main Filming Location for Yellowstone spin-off 1923
Butte, Montana is used as one of the main filming locations for the Yellowstone spin-off series 1923. The first season aired in December of 2022 with the second season hopefully airing sometime in 2024. The show stars Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford and serves as a prequel to the original Yellowstone series.
Butte, with its historic architecture and mining heritage, is the perfect backdrop for the series. The city has a long history as a mining town, and many of its buildings date back to the early 1900s, making it an ideal location for the show’s time period.
Parts of Butte’s historic uptown neighborhood were transformed for the filming to have it reflect Bozeman during the prohibition era. The Butte Civic Center was also leased to the production crew to serve as the show headquarters during filming.
Some notable filming sites:
- Silver House is the election house in the show.
- Piccadilly Museum of Transportation is an auto-dealership the family walks by while in town.
- The Kenwood was updated with a Bozeman Hotel sign.
- Broadway Street – many of the offices and old buildings along this street were changed into storefronts reflecting the 1920s for the show.
- Silver Dollar Saloon on Main St. was used as the inside of the show’s Silver Dollar Soda Shop, while its exterior is one of the buildings along Broadway.
- Butte-Silver Bow Water Utility Building served as the backdrop for Bozeman Town Hall in 1923.
- The 1923 scene inside the bank was filmed at the Morris State Bank in the town of Pony, MT while the Thornton Block building along Broadway was used for the bank’s exterior.
More Yellowstone Filming Locations in Montana
The stately Daly Mansion in Hamilton (another small town of the Bitterroot Valley) was used as a filming location for both Yellowstone and 1923. In Yellowstone, it was featured as the governor’s mansion in the season five finale. In 1923, it was used as the exterior of the mansion where Timothy Dalton’s character lives.
In addition to the scenes filmed inside Morris State Bank, Pony was also used for the Catholic Boarding School scenes in 1923. Those scenes were filmed at the Pony Public School, which was built in 1902.
The geographical area referred to as Rock City, located north of Valier, was used as the hiding place for Teonna Rainwater, the character played by Aminah Nieves, during her escape from the boarding school in 1923. This area is known for its maze of hoodoos, tall rock columns that have a mushroom shape. The hoodoos in Rock City average between 12 to 20 feet tall.
1883 Filming Locations in Montana
The first Yellowstone prequel, 1883, was mostly filmed in Texas. 1883 follows the Duttons journey along the Oregon Trail and is the origin story to how the family ended up in Montana.
Scenes filmed in Montana for 1883 were mostly done at the Yellowstone Film Ranch, an area in Paradise Valley dedicated for filming purposes and has an old west town set.