The Jicarilla Apache Reservation
About 3,200 Apaches live on the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation along US 64 and NM 537. Its 768,000 acres stretch from the Colorado border south 65 miles to US 550 near Cuba, New Mexico.
The word jicarilla (pronounced hick-ah-ree-ah) means "little basket," so it's no surprise that tribal craftspeople are noted for their basket weaving and beadwork. See their work, both contemporary and of museum quality, at the Jicarilla Apache Arts and Crafts Shop and Museum, a green building along US 64 west of the central village on the reservation (tel. 505/759-4274). In the back rooms here, I found women listening to 1950s rock while they wove baskets and strung beads. Two isolated pueblo ruins, open to the public, are found on the reservation: Cordova Canyon ruins on tribal Road 13 and Honolulu ruins on Road 63.
Though the area is lovely, there's not much else to do unless you're interested in hunting and fishing. Tribe members guide fishers and trophy hunters, most of whom seek elk, mule deer, or bear, into the reservation's rugged wilderness backcountry. Fishing permits for seven reservation lakes and the Navajo River run $11 per day or $60 per year for adults, $6 per day or $30 per year for seniors (55 and older) and $5 per day and $30 per year for children under age 12. Rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout are regularly stocked.
Just south of Chama on Jicarilla's northeastern flank is Horse Lake Mesa Game Park, P.O. Box 313, Dulce, NM 87528 (tel. 505/759-3442), a 20,000-acre reserve surrounded by a predator-proof fence. At an altitude of around 8,500 feet, this is the home of Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, bobcats, bears, and coyotes.
Highlights of the Jicarilla calendar are the Little Beaver Celebration (mid-July), which features a rodeo, a 5-mile run, a draft-horse pull, and a powwow. The Stone Lake Fiesta (Sept 14-15 annually) includes a rodeo, ceremonial dances, and a footrace.
Admission to Jicarilla Apache Reservation is free, and visitors are welcome year-round. For information on outdoor activities, contact the tribal Game and Fish office at the number above, or for general information (if they answer), the Tribal Office at P.O. Box 507 (tel. 505/759-3242).
The Best Western Jicarilla Inn and Casino on US 64 (P.O. Box 233), Dulce, NM 87528 (tel. 800/742-1938 or 505/759-3663; www.bestwestern.com/jicarillainn), offers decent rooms and slot-machine play, though you'll find better accommodations in Chama .
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.