Although now in southcentral New Mexico, we were still in Apache territory, the Mescalero Apache. (see Gila National Monument for info on the Chiricahua Apache.)
The Mescalero Apache thrive in their native “heartland” on a 463,000 acre reservation that includes their four sacred mountains… Sierra Blanca, Guadalupe, Three Sisters, and Oscura Peak.
The reservation, which includes other Apache bands, is governed by tribal code, a constitution, and under the leadership of a Tribal Council. Their economy relies on tourism and is supported by an abundance of outdoor activities—fishing, hunting, camping, golf, snow skiing—and the indoor activity of gambling.
It’s the perfect playground for Texans, yet this was our first visit.
Inn of the Mountain Gods
The Mescalero’s Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino is their mountain jewel, and it was a haven for this road-weary traveler.
Nestled in a peaceful, forested valley overlooking serene, trout-filled Mescalero Lake, Inn of the Mountain Gods is most appropriately named.
Our first morning coincided with the first arctic front of the season. Thirty-five mph winds and frigid temperatures kept our bikes stowed and us mostly inside…
Trey bundled up and ventured out for an icy-windy round of golf at their Championship Golf Course, his last of four golf excursions.
He said the trees protected him from the wind somewhat, but still made the challenging course even more difficult.
From Hwy 48 on the outskirts of Ruidoso, Hwy 532 climbs 12 ½ miles to Ski Apache.
Nine of those miles switch up, back, and along mountain ledges with gorgeous vistas.
The ski area was weeks away from opening, so we had the mountain top to ourselves.
Despite not having water nor proper jackets, we were lured onto a hiking trail just above the parking area.
We made it about a mile in before heading back, but not before appreciating the natural beauty and solitude.
On Wednesday evening, we drove into nearby Ruidoso for dinner without considering that mid-November is a downtime for the ski city. Many restaurants weren’t open or had closed early. After driving around a bit we noticed the Caliente Grill appeared to be open. We were the first of a few diners that evening, which gave us the opportunity to visit with the restaurant’s friendly owners. We chatted about wine and Austin… they were heading there the following week. Overall, the evening, food, service, and company were excellent.
Several dining options are offered at Inn of the Mountain Gods. We particularly enjoyed Wendell’s Steak & Seafood for a reasonable and tasty breakfast and lunch. For dinner, they go more upscale… food was amazing, just pricey.
Trey spent some of his evenings at the Casino’s blackjack tables. He experienced ups and downs, but overall left with an extra $200 in his pocket.
With a casino, first-rate restaurants, indoor pool, workout room and spa, the Inn of the Mountain Gods was ideal for being stuck indoors.
It wasn’t a difficult decision, or even a disappointment, to delay our departure a day… the winter blast would make it impossible to safely climb Guadalupe Peak, our final stop before home.
Maybe a day would make a difference.