WORLAND, Wyo., March 5, 2006 -- The Wyoming Department of Tourism expects thousands of people to come looking for the real "Brokeback Mountain" -- the same way people wanted to find Devil's Tower after seeing "Close Encounters of a Third Kind," or go to California for a good glass of pinot noir after seeing "Sideways."
But people won't find the real Brokeback Mountain there -- because it doesn't exist.
In fact, the movie was filmed in Canada.
"People are talking about Wyoming," said Diane Shober, director of Wyoming Travel and Tourism. "We've had more visibility from this movie than we've had in a long time from a movie."
Nominated for eight Academy Awards, "Brokeback Mountain" is a love story between two sheep-herding cowboys, and it's a love story about the Big Horn Mountains of eastern Wyoming. Many people here hope this movie will become Wyoming's calling card.
Can't See or Don't Want to See the Movie
But in this rural state of real cowboys and few movie theaters, many Wyoming residents haven't seen, can't see or won't see "Brokeback Mountain."
"We're so far out in the country," said Sonny Shearer, mayor of Worland, Wyo., which has 5,000 residents, "it will probably be on HBO three times before we get it."
Fred Frinkeas, mayor of Ten Sleep, which has 300 people and two saloons, hasn't seen it either.
"No," he said, "I don't have any idea that I'll ever go see it."
'Brokenbacks,' But No Brokebacks
Eastern Wyoming has a lot of "Brokenbacks," but no Brokeback. There is Brokenback Road, Brokenback Creek and even a Brokenback Ranch in Ten Sleep, Wyo.
Terri J. Mills, who owns Brokeback Ranch, says there is Brokenback country and Brokenback Peak.
But what about Brokeback Mountain?
"Well, it can be a challenge to find Brokeback," Mills said.
It's less challenging, however, to find the open country that really looks like the movie.
"We can go up there on horseback," said Darell Ten Broek, "and ride all day and never see another person."
And, that, as they say, is the true romance of Wyoming. Just because there is no Brokeback Mountain doesn't mean it isn't out there somewhere.