Retired Texas Rangers Gus McRae and Woodrow Call are content to live out their remaining years in the tiny Texas town of Lonesome Dove. Then their old friend Jake comes to town, and tells them about the incredible opportunities for cattle ranching in Montana. Encouraged by this, Call convinces Gus and many other townspeople to go on a perilous cattle drive to Montana. Gus has another agenda though: his former sweetheart now lives in Nebraska, and he hopes for a second chance with her. As the drive goes on it takes on an epic scale, ultimately becoming what could well be called the central event in the lives of all involved.