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The Fascinating Story Behind How 'Yellowstone' Is Really Filmed

Amanda Garrity
Photo credit: Paramount

From Good Housekeeping

  • Paramount's Yellowstone, starring Kevin Costner as John Dutton, returns for season 2 on June 19.
  • The show centers on the Dutton family ranch, the largest ranch in the U.S.
  • Kelly Reilly, who plays Beth Dutton, considers the ranch to be " most central character" on the popular cable show.

When watching Yellowstone, there's a lot that'll catch your eye. The Paramount series is full of drama, romance, horseback riding, shootouts, and well, Kevin Costner. And when you put the ongoing conflict, family strife, and complicated romance aside, the setting of the show - the Dutton family ranch - tells a story in itself. On the show, the ranch, which is located in Montana and borders Yellowstone National Park (hence the show's name), is described as "the largest ranch in the U.S."

But, where is Yellowstone actually filmed? Season 1 and 2 were filmed in more than 20 locations around Utah and Montana, primarily in Salt Lake City, Summit, Weber, and Wasatch. The production, which Costner claims is shot like a movie rather than a TV show, uses three different sound stages at the Utah Film Studio in Park City for most of the interior scenes, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. In the season 2 premiere, Salt Lake City Hall and Salt Lake City Library will make appearances, playing the part of Montana State University.

Photo credit: Paramount

What we see onscreen - the mountains, valleys, horses, and more - isn't Hollywood magic, it's very real. "You step outside and you see running horses, and men working, and the weather dictates what you do," Costner told Vanity Fair. For Costner and the rest of the Yellowstone cast, the breathtaking backdrop was a huge draw to be a part of the show. "I don't think we ever tire of seeing running rivers, valleys, and mountains. If you can set a drama against all that, it's fun," Costner said in an interview on CBS This Morning.

For the show's creator Taylor Sheridan, the scenery isn't a bonus; it's a necessity. "Taylor is a huge fan of authenticity and he wanted us to all really understand what we were getting into," Luke Grimes, who plays Kayce Dutton, told Vanity Fair. "It's great to be able to show this to people who normally wouldn't understand that this is still a way of life for a lot of people."

Photo credit: Paramount

That would explain why an actual ranch is also used in production - it just goes by a different name in real life. The Dutton family's house - ya know, the massive log cabin - is a real 5,000-square foot mansion located on Chief Joseph Ranch near Darby, Montana. It was built in 1917 as a summer house for glass tycoon William Ford and his family. Shane and Angela Libel currently live on the ranch with their family except for the months when Yellowstone is filming.

Photo credit: Chief Joseph Ranch

"The studio wanted to have [the home's] location in Utah, where most of the filming was done. There was a war-room meeting: Do we go up to this ranch or do we Scotch-tape locations together? Find a ranch. Find a mountain. Once we all got to Montana, there was no hesitation. It was so obvious," the show's location manager Mark Jarrett told the New York Post.

During the summer months, you can even rent one of two smaller log cabins on their property to get a taste of life on the Montana ranch. And no, Kevin Costner isn't a part of the deal because, sadly, the actor has a ranch of his own.


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