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What Year Is Yellowstone Set In? Timeline Explained

What Year Is Yellowstone Set In? Timeline Explained

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Yellowstone premiered in 2018 and has quickly become the most-watched show on cable television. The neo-Western drama stars Kevin Costner, Kelly Reilly, Cole Hauser, Wes Bentley, and Luke Grimes.

Yellowstone follows the Dutton family as they operate their cattle ranch in the beautiful Paradise Valley, Montana. They work tirelessly to protect their valuable land from the bordering Indian Reservation and national park as well as eager land developers.

John Dutton, the patriarch of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, does whatever it takes to keep the land in his family’s name. With power, violence, murder, corruption, and shifting alliances, there is never a dull moment at the ranch.

As Yellowstone has captivated audiences around the world, many people have been left wondering what year the drama series is set in.

When Does Yellowstone Take Place?

Yellowstone takes place in the modern-day. The series is currently just a couple of years behind the present day.

Season 1 of Yellowstone premiered on June 20, 2018. The events that take place across the season occur throughout 2017.

Season 1 marks the 20th year anniversary of Evelyn Dutton’s death as well as the death of Lee Dutton. The Duttons have to deal with real developer Dan Jenkins who wants to bring a resort to Paradise Valley.

Lee Dutton and John Dutton in Yellowstone Season 1

Seasons 2 and 3 of Yellowstone both happen in 2018. Season 2 came out on June 19, 2019, while season 3 was released on June 21, 2020.

During this time, the family faces the Beck brothers who want the ranch to build a casino. They issue violent attacks against the Duttons in hopes to wear them down. If that wasn’t enough, the ranch then has to worry about Market Equities who want to control the family’s land for financial gain.

The fourth season of Yellowstone premiered on November 7, 2021. The events of the season occur in 2019.

As the Duttons continue to fight for their land, they seek to find who was behind the brutal attacks on the family at the end of season 3. They discover that Garrett Randall, Jamie’s biological was the one who issued the attacks, leaving Jamie in a tough situation.

Season 5 of Yellowstone takes place in 2020. In this season, John is elected governor of Montana, hoping to use his political power to the advantage of the ranch. The series premiered on November 13, 2022,  with the second half of season 5 set to return in the summer of 2023.

At this point in the timeline, the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch has been in the family for 137 years, as the ranch was founded in 1883. The Dutton family has kept the cattle ranch in their name for several generations.

When Do Yellowstone’s Prequels Take Place?

Thanks to its widespread success, Yellowstone has received two prequels with more spin-offs to come. These two prequels are 1883 and 1923.

Both prequels provide insight into the history of the Dutton family and their coveted Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. They allow viewers to get a better understanding of the struggles the family has gone through. Over the years, the ranch has grown from its humble beginnings to the largest cattle ranch in America.


Shea Brennan and James Dutton leading the the baggage caravan in 1883, Yellowstone prequel series

1883 is the first Yellowstone prequel and follows the Duttons as they journey to Montana to establish the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. The series is set in the year 1883 and deals with many challenges of the time including smallpox, bandits, and the hardships of wagon trains.

In 1883, James and Margaret, along with their children Elsa and John, join a European immigrant wagon train. Hoping for a new start from their life of poverty in Tennessee, they make their way to Oregon.

However, tragedy strikes the family which results in them settling in Montana rather than their original destination, Oregon. The land they settle on goes on to become the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.


1923 takes place 40 years after the events of 1883 in the year of 1923. The show follows the Dutton family as they deal with the ever-changing times of the early 20th century.

In 1923, Jacob and Cara Dutton run the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, taking over after the deaths of James and Margaret. They deal with drought, cattle theft, and lawlessness as they work tirelessly to keep the ranch running.