In their element: Turley resident develops family land as an outdoors destination

Hannah Grover
The Daily Times

This is part of The Daily Times “In their element” series. On the last Thursday of every month in 2015, we’ll publish a profile of a Four Corners resident who embraces fitness or the outdoors.

TURLEY — Drivers heading down N.M. Highway 511 can easily pass Majestic Enchantment without realizing the property is home to one of the popular fishing spots on the San Juan River.

A sign marks the entrance to the property, which neighbors Wines of the San Juan in the small community of Turley. Through the gate, a gravel road takes visitors to an old garage converted into a art gallery. Various New Mexico license plates hang on the front of the building.

Inside, visitors can see "a little piece of New Mexico," according to the developer Jacob Chavez. Majestic Enchantment offers outdoors enthusiasts a chance to fly-fish, go birding or play a game of disc golf for a minimal fee.

It started as Chavez's dream when he was a child. The land, which stretches along half of a mile of the San Juan River, has been in his family for five generations. As a child, Chavez often saw anglers fishing there.

"We'd get back from school, and there would be strangers fishing," he recalled.

Fishing took off in the Turley area after Navajo Dam was built in the 1950s.

"I'm thinking that probably after the dam was built, that's when the big boom was," Chavez said.

Still, the river didn't start attracting international fame until decades later.

"It really didn't get a claim to fame and become a world class destination until the 1980s," said Jay Walden, manager of Abe's Motel and Fly Shop Inc. The motel and fly shop is in the community of Navajo Dam, a few miles up the road from Majestic Enchantment.

Shortly after Navajo Dam was built, in 1958, Abe and Patsy Chavez opened the fly shop, making it one of the oldest ones still on the river. That's still the shop where Jacob Chavez, a distant cousin of the couple, often buys fishing gear.

The water below the dam has gained notoriety as one of the best fishing locations in the country, attracting visitors from throughout the country who want to try their luck at catching trout.

Seven years ago, Jacob Chavez decided to capitalize on the river's popularity and start developing his family's land.

Since then, he befriended many of the fly-fishing guides along the river.

"We all know each other," Walden said. "It's a small community."

Walden said visitors who stay at Abe's Motel may be attracted to Majestic Enchantment because it offers a secluded place away from the crowds. Jacob Chavez works to maintain that by limiting the number of anglers on his property each day. This also protects the river ecosystem and prevents trauma for the fish.

The property's location on the river has been a driving factor in the family's success since they first moved in.

"Water is the giver of life," Jacob Chavez said.

Although he started developing the land — and the brand — to attract tourists, farming and ranching is still at the center of the operation, and visitors can hear cows and see alfalfa growing in the fields near the disc golf course.

The 18-hole disc golf course runs along the river and is the most recent addition to the property. Chavez spent last winter making the baskets for the course.

"They were just kind of a project to keep me busy during the winter," he said.

The work he has put into the property has not gone unnoticed. Majestic Enchantment was one of the locations that in 2013 hosted the Fireball Run, an online reality program. The property has also appeared on Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot," and recently, filmmakers working on an IMAX documentary shot scenes there.

Chavez said he feels Majestic Enchantment's growth mirrors the quote, "If you build it, they will come," from the 1989 film "Field of Dreams."

"I'm building it," Chavez said.

What: Majestic Enchantment

Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Location: 221 N.M. Highway 511

More info: Go to or call 505-801-9163.

Cost for fishing: One hour is $15 for adults, $8 for ages 13 to 18; Four hours is $25 for adults, $13 for ages 13 to 18; and 12 hours is $50 for adults, $25 for ages 13 to 18.

Cost for disc golf: $5 for 45 minutes

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.