If to watch Succession is—to quote Stephen Colbert—to experience a sense of "schaden-porn" in seeing the really dysfunctional but aesthetically stunning lives of a superrich New York media baron and his daddy-issue-ridden kids, Paramount's Yellowstone serves up much of the same, except with a superrich Montana cattle baron and his own set of highly unstable adult children.
Their problems may be ridiculous and, consequently, make for great TV—the fourth season of Yellowstone premiered on Paramount November 7—but all those superficial trappings of extreme wealth sure do look fun. John Dutton, like Logan Roy, also prefers whirlybirds as his primary mode of transport, and broods over his crumbling empire from the plush, dimly lit, wood-paneled confines of his lair, in his really big house, on his colossal ranch.
While no one would ever really want to be in John's shoes, what with greedy property developers and murderous rivals constantly hot on his spurs, it's hard to resist the allure of a sumptuous western lodge surrounded by not much else but wild horses and vistas so impossibly gorgeous they look like CGI (except they're not). And it becomes quite easy to understand why John is willing to go to such extremes to protect it all. Wouldn't you?
That Yellowstone's Dutton Ranch isn't a set on the Paramount lot in L.A. but a real-life working ranch in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana only perpetuates the dream. Not to mention the fact that you can actually stay at the place, waking up to the same wide open skies and rolling hills and snowcapped mountains that greet John, Beth, Rip, and co. at the crack of dawn each day.
Situated along the same trail once traversed by Lewis and Clark, the Chief Joseph Ranch—as the Dutton Ranch is officially called—was homesteaded by settlers in 1880. Thirty-four years later, the 2,500-acre property was purchased by federal judge Howard Clark Hollister and glass tycoon William Ford, who commissioned architectural firm Bates & Gamble to build the main 6,000 square-foot lodge—portrayed onscreen as John's home—and brought in the largest herd of Holstein cattle west of the Mississippi.
Today, its current owners, who received a cold call from Yellowstone producers asking if their home could be turned into a set for the series, operate their Darby, Montana property as both a guest ranch and working ranch when the show isn't filming. Two cabins on property are available for bookings (the main lodge is a private home, unfortunately, though tours of the ranch and sets are included with each reservation) and will look familiar to Yellowstone devotees: Lee's cabin as seen in season 1 and Rip's (and later Kayce's) cabin from seasons 1 and 2. Both can sleep up to 8 (rates start at $1,200 per night for 4 guests and $50 per additional guest). Meals aren't provided but the cabins are equipped with a full kitchen and outdoor grill. There are grocery stores in town but why not do as a real rancher might and go fish for your dinner in the Bitterroot River? When in Rome...
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