By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
“We’re with the Yellowstone. Nobody’s gonna mess with us.”
That quote, spoken by the character “Jimmy Hurdstrom” on Paramount TV’s popular series, “Yellowstone,” embodies the spirit of the show, set on the fictional Dutton family ranch just outside Yellowstone National Park.
The popularity of the series has encouraged would-be Duttons to try their luck out west, hoping to acquire their own piece of property to launch their own family legacy.
“One client I had told me they always wanted to be a cowboy,” said Julie Snelson with Peaks to Prairie Realty in Cody. “Then they started watching ‘Yellowstone’ and came here and bought a house. It was because of their fascination with the show, and they just wanted to be by Yellowstone. They even said it’s kind of an obsession.”
“These are highly educated professionals,” she added.
House In Yellowstone?
Snelson told Cowboy State Daily that she has had other clients contact her because of their interest in the television show – and were under the mistaken impression that they could actually live in the Park.
“A gentleman called me and said he wanted to purchase a home in Yellowstone,” Snelson said. “I explained that is not possible. Then I started explaining the lay of the land – the North Fork (highway between Cody and Yellowstone), the National Forest and then National Park. So then he wanted to buy a property in the National Forest… He said he was unhappy on the east coast and he just knew living by Yellowstone would change his life.”
“A lot of people are wanting to move out of the crazy, chaotic big cities and come to a more comfortable, relaxing town such as Cody and all over the Bighorn basin,” said Jona Harris, a realtor in Cody. “They want that out of town experience, with the river running through their property.”
Harris, who is a big fan of the show, said the appeal of the show, for her, is the intrigue – characters backstabbing each other, the romances, the twists and turns of the plot.
But she acknowledges that the romance of the mountain setting could be inspirational to those who don’t live here.
“I do see the correlation between the show and then wanting to come out here and have the experience of the old cowboy vibe,” she said.
The same thing is happening in Montana. An investment group owner told CNBC that the demand for property has spiked since the TV show began.
“We’ve had an influx of all sorts of wealthy individuals looking for ranches,” Robert Keith, founder of boutique investment firm Beartooth Group, told CNBC. “They’re looking to own really amazing large properties.”
However, those large properties really aren’t that available, at least in the Cowboy State.
Wyoming realtors have very little to offer right now in terms of large ranch properties. Many such locations were snatched up in 2020 and 2021, when city dwellers with extra cash were looking for a less restrictive place to live.
Because of low inventory and high demand, housing prices have skyrocketed, impacting property taxes for residents. So the added interest by fans of the “Yellowstone” series has put more pressure on an already-stretched housing market.
“We don’t have, like, large ranches,” said Harris, “but we do have some options for that out of town living that offers acreage.”
Residents of northwest Wyoming caution, though, that there’s a difference between what people see on TV and what it’s actually like living in the mountain west.
“The show never depicts the winter or the wind,” said Cody resident Lance Mathess. “Winters here are harsh and long. Like the bison, you have to be built to survive.”
However, Mathess told Cowboy State Daily he’s still a big fan of the “Yellowstone” series.
“I like the almost Godfather-esque flavor of the show,” he said. “Like Don Corleone, John Dutton displays an overwhelming patriarchal caring for his family and his legacy. In fact, a great deal of the show mirrors The Godfather in many respects.”
Going to Wyoming
Although the show is set in Montana, the title “Yellowstone” does link Wyoming heavily to the setting. However, the Cowboy State is only really referenced when the Duttons want to off someone that has crossed the family.
“You want off this ranch, you got it,” said the character Rip Wheeler in one episode. “I’ll drive your *ss to the train station myself.”
The “train station” refers to a roadside cliff in Wyoming that the Dutton family and ranch hands use to dispose of the dead bodies of anyone who has crossed them.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Wyoming fans of the show are any less interested in celebrating the success of the series. Cole Hauser, the actor who plays Rip Wheeler in “Yellowstone,” will be the grand marshal in Cody’s Stampede Parade on July 4.
“I’m so excited because he and Beth are my favorite couple on the show,” said Harris. “And so I do think that him coming and being the marshal of the Fourth of July parade is really going to bring a whole new vibe to the parade.”
So long as no one gets taken to the train station.