Wmat Outdoors

White Mountain Apache Tribe

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Cibecue Creek Trail

I have been all over the southwest camping, trout bumming, and vagabonding my way across the red rocks, painted deserts, arches, blue-green lakes and stunning canyons. The canyons oh my the canyons, they are without a doubt some of my fondest memories. Being pushed to explore every bend and nook has caused me to hike further and longer than I ever have in my life, the thrill of not knowing what coming around the next bend. That is the experience you will have on the Cibecue Creek Trail on the White Mountain Apache Tribe reservation. This trial is not easy to find, and it does require a day use fee as well as a permit to be on the tribal lands, however all of this is worth it for an experience you will NEVER forget.

It is easy to miss some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Canyons being among them. They seem like something that would not be easy to miss, considering they are large gorges dug out by creeks or rivers. Often times canyons are masked by mountains and you quite literally have to stumble upon them if you are unaware of where they are. When a park Ranger with the National Park Service was stationed at Big Horn Canyon National Recreation area he had the same experience soldiers had that first came to that region, they did not even known the canyon was there until they finally road up on it and saw it for themselves. That is what happens unfortunately often for those that do not put in their research or ask the right questions. They miss out on seeing something spectacular. Most people go to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, and rightfully so, however Cibecue Creek Trail offers something both Big Horn Canyon and the Grand Canyon cannot, a chance to explore it all up close and personal with a kiss from a pristine waterfall.

Finding the trail can be a bit of a trick. When you secure your permits it would be a good idea to ask as many questions as you can regarding the location of the trail. You can find it on your own with these directions but you would REALLY be better off asking people there. There is no signage and it is off the beaten path. This of course coupled with the frees make this trail less traveled than most. That is something else you will not get at the bigger canyons and parks. Simply put tens of thousands of people visit the Grand Canyon every day, and it feels like that when you are there. The Cibecue Creek Trail however offers a more one-on-one experience and a more peaceful and secluded experience. Travel just 40 miles past the small town of Globe, Arizona. You will come to a pink bridge, yes you read that correctly a pink bridge. Once you past that bridge there will be a dirt road on your left. It is a single lane dirt road with a few pullouts to let people move over to oncoming traffic. So drive slow. Once you cross the creek turn right and the trail will be right there for you! The trail-head is not marked, there may still be an upside down bathroom, an old Ramada and a sign telling you all the things you are not allowed to do on the trail.

So what you can and cannot do. This is something worth noting and they are very serious about this. The signs, permits, and books about the area all specifically state that there is simply NO swimming in the tribal waters. Period. There is also no fishing and no camping along the creek or on the trail. Your permit is good for 24 hours however that does not include an overnight stay. Be sure you respect the regulations and rules. After all you are a guest on tribal lands. This sounds like a lot of negative things and a lot of hassle but rest assured it is well worth all of it.

The twisting, turning, winding canyon trail has you cross-crossing back and forth over the creek. While you cannot swim you can tread across the creek. So do expect to get a little bit wet while traversing the trail. Of course the entire time you are going to be pushed to go further and further by every unknown twist and turn ahead. Opening up a new and unexplored part will drive you on and eventually you will end up at the Cibecue falls. A site to behold. Words escape even the most skilled writer when trying to describe these aqua blue-green falls that cascade down to a pristine and highly off-limits “Swimming Hole”. A cruel joke but a beautiful one non-the less.

If you think words cannot describe this, wait until you take some pictures. They may paint 1,000 words but nothing will compare to what you are seeing with your own two eyes. When you get home to show off the pictures from your trip on social media to friends and family they will become insanely jealous of you and your experience, however for you the picture will not have captured what you have seen enough. The words too will escape you and you will be forced to bring these people back with you to see it for themselves. Only so they too can share in your experience fully and see the true splendor that is the Cibecue Creek Trail.

The Cibecue Creek Trail a hidden gem among thousands at the White Mountain Apache tribe. Do not miss out on an opportunity to experience the southwest as a true canyoneer, a true Southwest explorer. Tread where very few have gone before and remember, leave only your footprints!

White Mountain Apache Tribe

There are very few places in the world with unequaled and unmatched beauty than can be found right in the heart of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Located in the East-Central region of Arizona the Fort Apache tribe spans 1.6 Million acres of prime outdoor recreational opportunities. Going to this area is a must for a lot of hunters wishing to bag a huge trophy Elk that this region of Arizona is famous for, or they may come up to shred down some of the slopes during the winter months. There are also fishing and camping to be done along some serene lakes, surrounded by spruce pines gently blowing in the breeze.

Without a doubt the hunting in the region is world class. The Elk in this region are some of the biggest available in the United States. With record sized racks, and tipping the scales on size and meat yield. Going with a local guide or outfitter is the best way you can ensure getting on one of these large and prized animals. There are also plenty of other large game such as world class Black bear, some of the largest in the state have been taken here. Predator hunting opportunities are also available which also include bear but also include mountain lion, and Bobcat. Of course if you aren’t having much luck and you want to host a real Texas Barbacoa you can chase some small game and include a Javalina, which are an essential part of a real Texas Barbacoa. There are also an abundance of other small game as well and of course plenty of waterfowl. There is something for every hunter to enjoy. With both guided and unguided hunts being available you will want to book early and get tags soon, as they are in limited supply each year. Not to worry, guided outfitters will generally have more than enough tags for a season but booking early ensures you get to pick the days you want!

Of course hunting is not the only draw of this region, there is the Sunrise Park Ski Resort located just south of Sunrise lake in the heart of the Fort Apache reservation. Owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache tribe there are slops and hills for all skills and ages. With a comprehensive lesson plan available for first timers and beginners all for kids and adults. For those that truly wish to “shred some gnar” there is some prime snowboarding down Sunrise Peak. To warm up from the cold there is plenty of amenities at the lodge to keep you warm, cozy, with a fresh drink in your hand and food in your belly. Of course if skiing is not your then, there is of course the Hon-Dah Casino. You can try your luck on the many video gambling machines or enter in one of the blackjack and poker tournaments. They offer table games, video poker, keno, and much more. There are live shows and plenty of entertainment. Of course lots of dining options as well and plenty of adult beverages! If you have one to many or simply just want to stay near all the fun there are rooms available as well in their lovely hotel.

If the quiet is more your thing and you want to get away from the crowds, and the bright lights and sounds associated with casinos, hit the lake! Hawley Lake offers people an opportunity to rest and relax…to recover if you will from the stresses of life and sometimes that travel and vacations can bring as well. Fishing, boating, camping and of course plenty of cabins to stay in as well. The cabins located at Hawley lake are operated by the local tribe as part of the Community Development Corp. These cabins have room enough to take care of guests numbering from as little as 2 all the way up to 14 total guests! With rooms ranging from 1 bedroom to 5 bedrooms and discounts on week or monthly rentals you can really bring a lot of people with you and save some money while enjoying a luxury, lakeside cabin. Located near the cabins is a little gas station and general store, though if you need something specific you better bring it with you or plan on going back into town. There is also a boat dock with boat rentals available to guests and other patrons at an additional cost. The boats are a great way to get around the lake to more private locations to either fish or soak in that Arizona sun. If peace and quiet is more your thing, you can sit on the porch and sip on some tea as you watch the sun reflect over the water. Let the kids run around and play and be kids! Snuggle up by the fire at night and tell stories and have a nice home cooked meal in the fully stocked kitchen.

As you can plainly see there is plenty to see, do and experience thanks to the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Situated right in the heart of Arizona as part of the Fort Apache Indian reservation in East-Central Arizona there is room for endless recreational possibilities. From going out and tracking down a troghy elk or black bear, to winning big at the Black Jack table. Perhaps kicking your shoes off and jumping into a nice cool lake on a hot summer day while your family relaxes in comfort at a cabin, or you are zipping down the slopes at top speed, there is something for everyone. Without a doubt the White Mountain Apache Tribe has gone above and beyond with their opportunities. Take the time to experience them all or just sample the ones you know you will enjoy. It will be worth your time!

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