How Many Acres is Yellowstone Ranch?

Many people want to know how many acres Yellowstone Ranch – from the TV show Yellowstone – is.

After watching all the episodes and going through the script dialogue we concluded:

The Yellowstone Ranch is:

  • Between 620,000 acres and 700,000 acres

So how did we come to this conclusion?

Well, here’s the thing: there’s the acreage of the ranch where it is filmed and there is the fictional acreage of the ranch the TV show is portraying – the biggest ranch in Montana.

To help figure out how many acres is Yellowstone Ranch, we’ll answer 2 separate questions.

  1. How many acres is the ranch where the TV show is filmed?
    • The TV show is filmed at the Chief Joseph Ranch in Darby, Montana. That ranch is 2,505 acres.
  2. How many acres is the fictional Yellowstone Dutton Ranch as portrayed in the TV show?
    • This is the question most people want the answer to. And the one we will attempt to answer below.

To answer question 2, we’ll need to look at quotes and dialogue from the TV show.

  • In Season 1, Episode 1:
    • There’s a line about Yellowstone Ranch, “It’s 30,000 acres, Jamie. That isn’t a fraction of the ranch.” So we know it is far bigger than 30,000 acres. Saying something is “a fraction” of something else is used to exaggerate how little something is. In the context of this dialogue I think we can assume “a fraction” means at the very least 1/10 or that Yellowstone Ranch is at least 300,000 acres (30,000 acres x 10).
      • Conclusion: Yellowstone Ranch is at least 300,000 acres.
    • There’s another line about the size of Yellowstone Ranch, “How can you stand there on a ranch the size of Rhode Island and accuse me of theft?” Rhode Island is 776,960 acres. Referring to the above dialogue 30,000 acres is 3.9% of (a fraction of) 776,960 acres. But in the context of the scene I think we could all agree saying Yellowstone Ranch was the size of Rhode Island was an exaggeration. In addition, I think we can assume people aren’t walking around with the knowledge of how many acres Rhode Island is only that it is the smallest state.
      • Conclusion: Yellowstone Ranch is smaller than Rhode Island (776,960 acres).
  • in Season 1, Episode 3:
    • This is the largest ranch in Montana. It’s 200,000 acres larger than it was when I became chief counsel.” Firstly, this is a fictional show. The largest ranch in Montana is not compared to real life Montana ranches. In this dialogue it feels like 200,000 acres is not double what the original size was. So I think we can assume the ranch started out around 400,000 acres at least. Otherwise Jamie, the son and lawyer, would have said he had doubled the size. Also, he made sure to say this is the largest ranch in Montana – I’m guessing because it wasn’t always the largest ranch in Montana until he became the lawyer?
      • Conclusion: Yellowstone Ranch is at least 600,000 acres.
  • In Season 3, Episode 6:
    • Your 50,000 acres for $10,000 an acre. That’s 500 million dollars.” A large company wanted to buy 50,000 acres of Yellowstone Ranch to build a huge resort town.
      • Conclusion: John Dutton turned down $500 million to sell a small portion of his land.
  • in Season 4, Episode 2:
    • Look at the King Ranch down in Texas. 825,000 acres […] They made such a name for themselves you can buy a damn truck with their brand on the seat […] That’s what we’re going to do.” In the context of this dialogue King Ranch – the biggest ranch in the USA – is known to be 825,000 acres. They talk about it like it is the goal ranch. The best ranch.
      • Conclusion: Yellowstone Ranch is a fair bit smaller than 825,000 acres – probably around 3/4 the size (~620,000 acres). It is pretty clear they are building the ranch in the footsteps of King Ranch but are not there yet.

So How Many Acres is The Yellowstone Dutton Ranch?

Based solely on dialogue and known context from the Yellowstone TV show the best guess we can come up with is:

  • Yellowstone Ranch is between 620,000 acres and 700,000 acres

There is not a definitive quote in the show which tells us the exact area of The Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. So we have to use critical thinking, assumption and dialogue context to figure it out.

  • Saying the ranch was the size of Rhode Island (776,000 acres) was an exaggeration in the context of the dialogue. And only said because Rhode Island is the smallest state.
  • They talk about King Ranch and how it is the goal ranch. And how it is the best ranch. It is pretty clear they are building their way up to what King Ranch is (825,000 acres) but are not there yet. Saying they are 3/4 of the size is probably fair (~620,000 acres).

Wrapping up:

The main drivers of this range is we know it is not as big as King Ranch in Texas (825,000 acres) and we know they added 200,000 acres since Jamie, the son, came on board as the chief counsel. And we know it is smaller than Rhode Island (it was an exaggeration to say it was that big, in the context of the dialogue).

So, within the context of how “it’s 200,000 acres larger” was said points to 200,000 acres being a large but not complete doubling of land size. We concluded it started at least at 400,000 acres and has added 200,000 acres. And we concluded it is about 3/4 the size of King Ranch (~620,000 acres) arriving at a range of 620,000 to 700,000 acres.