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Chief Joseph Ranch, the Real-Life Yellowstone Dutton Ranch Where Fans Can Stay

Chief Joseph Ranch, the Real-Life Yellowstone Dutton Ranch Where Fans Can Stay

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Many fans of the show Yellowstone dream of visiting the picturesque Yellowstone Dutton Ranch of Montana.

Fortunately for fans, the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch ranch is a real-life place known as Chief Joseph Ranch.

Chief Joseph Ranch is a guest and working ranch located in Darby, Montana, approximately 65 miles south of Missoula. The property is in Ravalli County and sits in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.

Chief Joseph Ranch is owned by Shane Libel and his family. When not used for filming, the Libel family lives in the ranch’s iconic lodge.

The ranch has a long history, and it has grown to become one of the most iconic ranches in America. With its beautiful scenery and incredible architecture, the ranch is a site to behold.

Here is Chief Joseph Ranch on Google Maps:

History of Chief Joseph Ranch

The Salish Native American tribe once inhabited the land of Chief Joseph Ranch. The property was home to a trail that was extensively used by Native American tribes as well as the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The trail ran just west of the lodge and ran down to where the barns are now located. During the Nez Perce War in the summer of 1877, Chief Joseph led his people across the property in their flight from the U.S. Army.

In 1880, the property was homesteaded by settlers and in 1884 water rights were registered. The property was originally known as Shelton Ranch.

Then, in 1914, the ranch was purchased by glass tycoon William S. Ford and federal judge Howard Clark Hollister.

Inside the Real Dutton Ranch house
Inside the main Chief Joseph Ranch cabin used as the main Dutton residence in Yellowstone

Upon purchase, the ranch was a thriving apple orchard. Ford then began a three-year journey to build one of the greatest log structures of the American West from log and stone.

The Ford-Hollister Lodge was designed by the architectural firm Bates & Gamble. In addition to the lodge, Ford also built three massive barns for his dairy business. He then went on to replace the apple orchard with the largest herd of Holsteins west of the Mississippi.

In the 1920s, the ranch began maintaining a Hereford herd. Upon his death, Ford’s wife and daughters opened and operated the ranch as a guest ranch, making it one of the first in the west.

In the early 1950s, the Hollister-Ford ranch was sold and renamed the Chief Joseph Ranch in honor of the legendary Nez Perce leader.

From 2004-2012, the ranch’s lodge was run as a bed and breakfast. However, when the Libel family purchased the ranch, they made the iconic lodge into their personal residence.

Chief Joseph Ranch owner Stephen Libel being interviewed on the Yellowstone YouTube channel
Chief Joseph Ranch owner Stephen Libel being interviewed on the Yellowstone YouTube channel

The iconic lodge seen in Yellowstone still retains almost all of the original logs and stones used to build it in 1914.

Also read: 15 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Yellowstone TV Series

Facilities of Chief Joseph Ranch

Chief Joseph Ranch is noted for its incredible facilities including a lodge, cabins, barns, and pastures. The most notable feature of the ranch is the rustic wooden 6,000-square-foot lodge.

The stunning lodge was built in 1917 by William Ford and has become renowned over the years for its history and architecture.

The main house at Chief Joseph Ranch

Unlike Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, Chief Joseph Ranch is relatively small at around 2,500 acres, but is still one of the largest ranches in Montana. The ranch has also been deemed a historic landmark.

Today, Chief Joseph Ranch is best known for being one of the main filming locations for Yellowstone. The property is also a working ranch with cattle and horses, as well as a guest ranch and family homestead.

Can You Stay at Chief Joseph Ranch?

When not used to film Yellowstone, guests can stay at Chief Joseph Ranch in one of their cabins. Typically, the ranch is only open to guests from June until the end of August. However, the ranch gets booked up quickly, and there is a 3-night minimum stay.

The ranch has two cabins available for rental The Fisherman Cabin (Lee Dutton’s Cabin) and The Ben Cook Cabin (Rip’s Cabin).

The Fisherman Cabin at Chief Joseph Ranch that's used as Jamie Dutton's cabin in the Yellowstone TV series
The Fisherman Cabin (Lee Dutton’s cabin)
The inside of The Fisherman's Cabin at Chief Joseph Ranch
The inside of The Fisherman Cabin (Lee Dutton’s cabin)

The Fisherman Cabin (Lee Dutton’s cabin) costs $1,500 per night (up to 4 guests), and $50 per night per each additional guest (up to 8 guests).

The cabin’s main level has a master bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen, and closed-in porch. The upstairs has two queen-sized beds and a bathroom. The loft has two further twin beds.

Along with the facilities, the cabin has beautiful views of the Bitterroot River, Bitterroot Mountains, and the Sapphire Mountains.

Fishing is also available on the property. There is one mile of ranch property along the Bitterroot River where visitors may fish.

Ben Cook cabin used in filming (Rip’s cabin)
The Ben Cook cabin used as Rip Wheeler’s cabin in Yellowstone
The inside of The Ben Cook Cabin which is used a Rip Wheeler's cabin in the Yellowstone TV series
The inside of The Ben Cook Cabin (Rip Wheeler’s cabin)

The Ben Cook Cabin (Rip Wheeler’s cabin) offers stunning views of the ranch. It can sleep up to eight guests and has three queen-sized beds, two twin beds, two bathrooms, a kitchen, living room, and two scenic porches,

The Ben Cook cabin costs $1200 per night (up to 4 guests) and $50 per night per each additional guest (maximum of 8 guests).

To book, you can call the ranch at (406) 821-0894, see the ranch’s Tripadvisor page, or their official website.

Does the Ranch Serve Guests Meals?

The ranch doesn’t serve guests meals, but each cabin has it’s own kitchen and outdoor grill. There is also a small market close by and larger stores in neighboring towns. The nearby towns of Darby and Hamilton also have several restaurants each.

Can I Bring My Own Horse to Chief Joseph Ranch?

When visiting the ranch, guests are welcome to bring their own horses. Horses may be pastured or corralled. The minimum cost for bringing horses is $25 per day for two horses.

The ranch does not allow any other kinds of pets such as cats or dogs.

Also read: 11 Horses Used In Yellowstone TV Show: Behind-the-Scenes Look

Can You Tour Chief Joseph Ranch?

Tours are only available for guests staying on the ranch. Every cabin reservation comes with a tour of the ranch.

Fans of Yellowstone are welcome to take photos at the iconic Dutton Ranch sign. However, during filming security will be at the gate, and photos are not permitted.

Also, follow the official ranch Instagram for more photos of day-to-day life at the ranch.

How did the Yellowstone producers choose the Chief Joseph Ranch as a filming location?

Most owners of buildings or potential filming locations you see in TV or movies registered their properties as available for filming. However, Chief Joseph Ranch wasn’t of these and was found by a Yellowstone location manager.

Paddocks and barns at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch

The location manager and producers of the show agreed the ranch was perfect and reached out to the owners.

Also read: Where is 1883 Filmed?

What Locations for Yellowstone are Filmed at Chief Joseph Ranch?

Chief Joseph Ranch serves as the filming location for several parts of Yellowstone. The lodge great room, kitchen, back porch, front porch, helipad, and yard are among some of the more common filming locations. The armory, Rip’s cabin, Lee’s cabin, Trapper cabin, and entrance are also used for filming.

In addition, the barns are also used for filming including the corrals, fields, arena, round pen, bunkhouse, and fields. Several locations on the Bitterroot River are also used for filming the hit show.

See the fascinating video below about filming at Chief Joseph Ranch:

Also read our full guide on all the main Yellowstone filming locations.


Thursday 24th of November 2022

In my travels in 1979 my friend and I were asked to be caretakers of that lodge. At the time it was owned by a Christian mission agency run by Mariann Sitton. We were in our twenties. Rode horses on that beautiful property and ended up staying for 2 months working on the ranch. Good times. We turned down the opportunity to caretake the lodge because we wanted to keep moving. Makes the show all the more interesting now.


Thursday 17th of November 2022

I think your ranch is the most beautiful place on earth. I have been a horse lover all my life but unfortunately unable to own one. I’m going on 75 years old an hope when I pass the good lord will place me on a ranch with many horses. Your so blessed to have this privilege to own a place like you have during your life time.