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For Fans of Yellowstone & 1883

Wild West Stories to Read or Watch Next

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • January 18, 2022

Over the course of four seasons, Yellowstone, created by Taylor Sheridan, has built a devoted following. The soapy drama centers on John Dutton (played by Kevin Costner), a sixth-generation rancher battling to keep hold of his sprawling property, which encroaches on reservation lands and national parks.

The spinoff series, 1883, follows the origin story of the Dutton family predecessors as they journey to a new home in Montana. Starring Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and Sam Elliott, this hot new show is taking off like wildfire. If you're craving more frontier fodder, here are some books and shows we recommend.

What to Read

Like 1883 and Yellowstone, these stories demonstrate the toughness and tenacity required by settlers of Western America. Many of these books also address the displacement of the Native people previously inhabiting these lands.

Dancing at the Rascal Fair by Ivan Doig
This thrilling saga traces the paths of two young men from their native Scotland to the wilds of Montana. It is a passionate portrayal of the immigrants who struggled to tame the beautiful, unforgiving wildlands of the Rocky Mountains.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Named as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS, this epic adventure story tells the story of several retired Texas Rangers who embark on one last eventful venture driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana.

Mollie: the Journal of Mollie Dorsey Sanford 1857-66
This first-person account from a nineteen-year-old girl traveling West with her family will invoke Elsa Dutton vibes. The plucky Mollie confronts such ordeals as rattlesnakes, blizzards, and Indians with optimism, courage, and common sense.

The Son by Philipp Meyer
This multigenerational saga follows a Texan oil family headed by Dutton-esque patriarch, Eli McCullough. Returning to white society after being taken captive by Comanches as a boy, he develops an insatiable drive for power and security.

The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
In the late 1930s, sixteen-year-old Billy Parham captures a she-wolf that has been threatening his family's ranch. But instead of killing her, he decides to undertake the arduous journey of transporting her back to the mountains of Mexico.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Number three of the beloved series, this autobiographical tale has been a staple for generations of adventure-loving readers, children and adults alike. If you've never read the story of the pioneering Ingalls clan, you're missing out.

Centennial by James Michener
Brimming with the glory of America's past, the story of Colorado is manifested through its people. Trappers, traders, homesteaders, gold seekers, ranchers, and hunters come together here to shape the destiny of the West.

Inland by Téa Obreht
Grounded in true, but little-known, history, this lyrical, sweeping novel is set in the lawless, drought-ridden Arizona Territory. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman haunted by a devastating loss and Lurie, a former outlaw who communes with ghosts.

Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx
This collection of breathtaking tales feature themes of loneliness, quick violence, and difficult love. These are stories of desperation and unlikely elation set in a landscape both stark and magnificent.

Roughing It by Mark Twain
In 1861, a young Twain took a stagecoach west from Missouri for his first job as a journalist in a rough mining town in the Nevada territory. This is the chronicle of his experiences and the bold, raucous, grasping characters he met along the way.

What to Watch

Whether set in the modern-day or frontier days, these TV series and movies offer the kind of brash swagger, dicey drama, and outlaw action that make Yellowstone and 1883 so addictive.

True Grit
This 2010 adaptation of the beloved 1968 novel by Charles Portis does an excellent job of capturing the indomitable, timeless, and unflinching narrative voice of Mattie Ross, a fourteen-year-old determined to avenge her father's death.

Inspired by an Elmore Leonard series, this is the story of Deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens returning to work in the community where he grew up. Like Yellowstone, this series is filled with characters who operate on an ambiguous moral code.

News of the World
Set in Texas five years after the end of the civil war, this is the story of an itinerant news reader who agrees to transport a ten-year-old girl, newly relinquished from her Kiowa captors, to surviving relatives. The Oscar-nominated film stars Tom Hanks and is based on this novel by Paulette Jiles.

If what you love about Yellowstone are those expansive western vistas, this show fits the bill. The story of a rural Wyoming sheriff tackling local crime and conflicts, offers high-stakes storylines and plenty of drama. Get the complete series here.

Wind River
Sheridan fans will recognize his stamp on this thriller about a rookie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) investigating the murder of a girl on a remote Native American reservation. She enlists the help of a local game tracker (Jeremy Renner).

Hatfields & McCoys
Before Yellowstone, Costner demonstrated his rugged qualities in several previous roles, including the lead in this miniseries about the infamous feud between two nineteenth-century clans living in rural Appalachia

As director, producer, and star, Western stalwart Clint Eastwood broke new ground with this 1992 film about an aging outlaw who takes on one more job years after retiring as a farmer. Co-stars Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman add star power.

Sons of Anarchy
This drama follows a somewhat different sort of family—an outlaw motorcycle club based in California. Love, brotherhood, loyalty, betrayal, and redemption are recurring themes in the storylines of the show.

Little Big Man
The 1970 film is based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Berger. The narrative follows the checkered path of a 121-year-old man who was raised by members of the Cheyenne nation during the nineteenth century.

If you'd enjoy a little sci-fi slant on your cowboy fare, try this HBO series about a technologically advanced theme park where wealthy guests can live out their Wild West fantasies. But things get dicey when the park's android hosts rise up and revolt.

Hopefully this list offers some options for Western thrills that will fill the void as you wait for more from Yellowstone and 1883.

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Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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