Indian Reservations to Visit in Winter
Have you ever wondered about visiting an Indian reservation or tribal recreation area in the winter? There are many options open, but here are five in the southern and southwestern United States that may surprise you.
- Mescalero Apache: If you’re up for cold weather, snow sports may be just the thing. Ski Apache is a premier ski destination in New Mexico operated by the Mescalero and known for its year-round beauty. This recreational paradise turns white in the winter, making skiing and snowboarding the activities of choice, with elevations of 5,400 to 12,000 feet. Its highest peak, Sierra Blanca, is sacred to the Mescalero people. The tribe also operates the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino. The reservation is 720 square miles and home to the Mescalero, the Chiricahua and the Lipan Apache. Read more
- White Mountain Apache: The tribe’s Office of Tourism on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation hosts adventurous outdoor recreation, including rafting the Salt River Canyon, camping and hiking in the pristine White Mountains, Apache Trout fishing (species not found elsewhere) and world record elk hunting. In the winter, the fun shifts to skiing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, sleigh rides and ice fishing. The Sunrise Park Resort is a premier ski destination in Arizona and known for its winter and summer activities and year-round beauty. The tribe also operates the luxurious Hon-Dah Resort Casino and Conference Center. Read more
- Blackfeet: The Blackfeet Indian reservation is 1.5 million acres in Montana. It borders Alberta, Canada to the north and Glacier National Park to the south, with an easy drive from there to Yellowstone National Park. The tribe operates a recreation area known as Blackfeet Country, with unmatched scenic beauty (and sometimes high winds). The recreation area is a winter and summer playground for snow sports, ice fishing (permits and ice house rentals are nominal), hiking, camping, horseback riding, boating, picnicking, swimming, rodeos, water sports and cultural events. The tribe also operates the Glacier Peaks Casino and Hotel. There is also a nine-hole golf course in nearby East Glacier. Read more
- Seminole: If cold weather is not your thing, consider heading south to Florida. The Seminole are hosting a championship rodeo this month, a qualifier for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. The rodeo will be hosted at the Seminole Youth Ranch Arena in Immokalee, FL. The other two rodeos in this 3-part series have been held in Lakeland and Wauchula, FL for years. Top-name contestants and up to 10,000 rodeo fans are expected. Although rodeo is a pro sport, this one has a lot of entertainment and specialty acts, making it different from other rodeo events. The Seminole Tribe is building a new four-story, 110-room hotel at the Seminole Immokalee Casino, which they hope will open in time for the rodeo. Read more
- Pascua Yaqui: The Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation is located in metropolitan Tucson. If you’re a golfer, you may want to visit the Sewailo Golf Club, just south of the tribe’s Casino Del Sol Resort. The tribe hired Notah Begay of Navajo and Pueblo descent and PGA fame to “help carve the world from the high Sonoran Desert.” Sewailo means “flower world” in the Pascua Yaqui language. This challenging golf course runs 7,400 yards from the championship tees, with 5 tee boxes on each hole to accommodate players of all ability levels. The resort has earned the Forbes Four-Star Travel Guide Award. Read more
** If you visit one of these areas, please come back and share your experience. If you’re looking for something more mainstream yet culturally-focused, try the National Museum of the American Indian with locations in Washington, DC and New York City that are open year-round.