‘Yellowstone’ is fun, but let us help you sort its fiction into ranch facts

LAY OF THE LAND | April 2022

There’s no question that Yellowstone is a smash hit. After all, more than 9 million viewers tuned in for the final episode of its fourth season in January. And there’s no question that the series following the exploits of rancher John Dutton, as played by Kevin Costner, can be wildly entertaining.

But there’s also no question it’s far from realistic. All those helicopters, fancy cars, and gun battles might make for good TV drama, but they don’t have much (if anything) to do with ranching in the West.

Ken Mirr

Separating Ranch Fact from Yellowstone Fiction

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy a good story. And it’s always a positive to remind everyone about the mystical beauty of the West. But if this fable piques your interest in ranch ownership, ground your search in reality by talking with the experts at Mirr Ranch Group. Here are some examples of how we can help you sort “Ranch Fact” from “Yellowstone Fiction.”

Yellowstone fiction
Kevin Costner in the popular television show, Yellowstone.


One episode pits the family against a developer in need of water flowing from the ranch property. The Duttons resort to what might be called an “explosive” solution to stop the flow, which (of course) is not a real-world option. If you want straight talk on water rights in the West, let us ground you in the concept of Prior Appropriation and the value water delivers to a ranch.

Cattle Ranching

The Duttons sure have a lot of cattle. And sometimes they talk about taking them to market or herding them from one place to another. Running a cattle ranch, whether it’s a cow-calf or a yearling operation, involves a lot more than that. We can walk you through the basics, from carrying capacity to grazing, and then share some properties for you to consider.

Land Use

The efforts of various bad guys to take over Dutton land results in some of the most outrageous moments in Yellowstone. At MRG, we help you understand the value of different ranches, whether they feature hunting, fly-fishing, farming, and more. Interested in protecting open space and/or ecologically significant areas, while also creating a financial benefit? We can explain that, too.

Word is that filming for the next season of Yellowstone will begin in May, so we can expect even more wild ranch exploits soon. Just remember: It’s for fun, MRG has the facts.

What else?

It’s piling up: Last month’s Lay of the Land on the importance of snowpack for water in the West noted that Colorado’s snowpack was only 80% of normal as of Feb. 20. The news is better as of April 4, thanks to a series of storms that have boosted the statewide average to 92%. Given that April is the state’s third snowiest month, here’s hoping for even higher snowpack numbers by May.

Ranch Market Report: A variety of issues, including the shift to working from home, produced a stellar sales year in 2021 for Intermountain West real estate. That boom extended to the ranch market, especially recreational properties close to a ski area or town. So what’s next? Read my Spring 2022 Ranch Market Report to learn about inventory, the growing value of a ranch investment, and more.

Steady Drip:  We recently looked back in time to explain how Colorado water law has impacted the entire West. But rights are only part of the picture. I recently hosted an insightful online conversation with Tommy Latousek, MRG’s Senior Vice President, and our Director of Operations, Haley Mirr, on the impact of drought, anti-speculation legislation, and the water rights market. Watch the conversation.

MRG’s Must-Reads: Our latest roundup of regional news includes a new report showing nearly a 1/3 of American jobs are related to the food and agriculture industry, the Bureau of Land Management will soon be proposing new amendments to save the greater sage grouse, Douglas County might begin piping their water from the San Luis Valley, and a surprising new study points the finger at earthworms as a cause of insect decline. Check out Must Reads.

Lay of the Land is a monthly column by Ken Mirr, the Founder and Managing Broker of Mirr Ranch Group, that highlights news of the West impacting the ranch lifestyle. Have a question about the West? Email him at Ken@MirrRanchGroup.com.

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