Owl Canyon Road, Colorado

Contributed photo
Contributed photo
Location: Dead Horse / Owl Canyon Road, Larimer County, CO
GPS:   40d 45m 19s    -105d 8m 1s
Map / Satellite Image: Google Link

Travel Directions:
From I-25 take Colorado Exit 281, “Owl Canyon Road”
Go West on County Road 70 for 7.4 miles to “the curve” (where County Road 70 becomes County Road 21).

Annie Proulx’s creativity is, in no small measure, a consequence of her unusual ability to harness everyday experiences and incorporate them brilliantly into modern fiction. She is passionate about this. She scans phone books and obituaries for unusual character names. She has been known to interview several experts on obscure topics such as knife sharpening to get the precise phrasing a sentence requires. Proulx keeps a collection of descriptions of the sky, written as nature granted her the opportunity, which she integrates into her writing. She listens in bank and grocery store lines, bars, and cafes, for colorful phrases and story ideas in the everyday conversations that surround her.

In this unlikely setting, a dirt road in northern Colorado, Proulx’s overactive imagination was able to connect the expression “stud duck” with Jack’s father, John Twist. Unable to apply her description to John Twist in the screenplay, McMurtry and Ossana did the next best thing and appended it to his bookend character, Jack’s father-in-law, L.D. Newsome.

But, of course, the real fascination of making a leisurely drive down this lonely unpaved road is encountering “the curve” that, in Proulx’s amazing mind, “took Ennis’s parents.” It comes up abruptly after more than seven miles of ruler-straight linear driving. Don’t miss it.

A marker at “the curve” describes the historic 1860s Overland Stage Line which passed nearby.

After you have drawn all of the creative inspiration you can from this spot, by all means continue onward to scenic Owl Canyon. Look for its $3,000 trailers on million-dollar lots and know that you are indeed in Annie Proulx country.

Use caution, the road contains a hazardous curve.

“I remember vividly that, driving on Owl Canyon Road in Colorado down over the state line one afternoon and thinking about Jack Twist’s father, the expression ‘stud duck,’ which I had heard somewhere, came to me as the right way to succinctly describe that hard little man, and a curve in the road became the curve that killed Ennis’s parents.” [1]

[1] Brokeback Mountain - Story to Screenplay by Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana (Scribner) ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-9416-4, page 132.

Pictures of surrounding area:


















  Revised 23 January 2011