The Bitterroot Valley is Even Better than It Looks in Yellowstone

For anyone who saw the first episode of Kevin Costner’s new western series Yellowstone on Paramount Networks, let me just tell you one thing: Montana is nothing like that.

Okay, there is a latent distaste for “transplants”, and conflicts do sometimes arise between ranchers, natives, and the BLM. And there most certainly are people who think that because it’s Montana, you can do whatever you want. Those things are true. But, really, how this state and the people who live here are portrayed in Yellowstone couldn’t be further from the truth.

There are no shootouts between cowboys and Indians, and you definitely can't dam a river just because it happens to cross your land. Nobody fishes from horseback. Most ranchers are lucky to have a running pickup, let alone a ragged old Cessna, to say nothing of an A-Star. There are plenty of wealthy hobby farmers, who hire some local to work the land whose family probably used to own it before they subdivided and sold it. We do have more than our fair share of shady land developers, but even those are the minority.

For the most part, Montana is a place where people come to live as simply and as close to nature as possible.

Something Yellowstone did get right about Montana was hidden in one of its casual disparages. In a scene where the real estate mogul, depicted as the antagonist to the cattle baron, is pitching his new development, he mentions that it will be a “sustainable community”.

Now that is something that can actually happen here in Montana.