Since it first galloped onto our screens in 2018, Paramount Network’s Yellowstone has only gone from strength to strength with viewing figures roughly doubling between seasons 3 and 4.

Part of the reason behind Yellowstone’s popularity is the captivating stories it tells, which examine the challenges of running a ranch in the 21st century.

However, as Yellowstone is so grounded in reality, fans of the series have been left asking if the modern-day Western is based on a true story and a real-life ranch.

Yellowstone | Season 4 Official Trailer | Paramount Network

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Yellowstone | Season 4 Official Trailer | Paramount Network
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Is Yellowstone based on a true story?

No, Yellowstone and the story of the Dutton family are not true and are, in fact, works of fiction.

On top of that, the Yellowstone Ranch is not a real place in Montana and the title of largest ranch in the US actually goes to the King Ranch in Texas which covers an eye-watering 825,000 acres.

However, while the show may not be based on real people, co-creators Taylor Sheridan and John Linson have almost certainly taken inspiration from the lives of real ranchers from throughout history and the struggles that modern-day ranchers endure on a daily basis.

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Real-life inspirations behind Yellowstone’s ranchers

As Marie Claire points out, Yellowstone’s cast and creators almost certainly turned to the history of ranching to find inspiration for the series.

According to Looper, one of the main inspirations behind the series could well have been W.T. Waggoner of the Waggoner Ranch in Texas.

Established in 1849, the Waggoner Ranch long-held the title of America’s largest ranch and ownership of the huge estate was passed through generations of the Waggoner family.

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However, just as Yellowstone faces competition from corporations wanting to buy the land in the series, the Waggoner Ranch was bought in February 2016 for $725 million by Stan Kroenke, the owner of several sports teams around the world including the Los Angeles Rams and Arsenal FC.

Marie Claire also points out, per Outsider, that actor Kevin Costner based elements of his performance on his father, William – one of 11 children to be raised on a wheat farm in Oklahoma – going so far as to use his father’s own Winchester rifle as a prop on the show.

As well as taking inspiration from ranching legends of the past, Yellowstone has even featured some noteworthy faces in the series itself with season 4 giving a cameo to renowned horse trainer Buster Welch.

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Yellowstone is filmed on a real ranch

While the Yellowstone Ranch may be fictional, the series is filmed on a real ranch, specifically at the Chief Joseph Ranch in Darby, Montana.

Fans of the Yellowstone series can even stay at the Chief Joseph Ranch as the property has opened up a number of cabins on-site – also used for filming – so that visitors can come and stay. Although prices for a four-person stay can range between $1,200 and $1,500 per night according to Parade.

On top of that, Yellowstone season 4 has also featured the 6666 Ranch in Texas which is a real-world ranch in Texas that has been operating since 1900.

Not only is the ranch going to be the central location in a Yellowstone spin-off series, but the 350,000-acre ranch was purchased in May 2021 but by Yellowstone co-creator, Taylor Sheridan.

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Season 4 of Yellowstone continues weekly on Sundays at 8/7c on Paramount Network.

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