…A Look Back
“It’s a country of things in light”
After leaving Santa Fe, New Mexico and driving about an hour, you enter the landscape of vast vistas, table-topped mesas, tall cliffs, the Rio Chama bordered by huge old cottonwood trees, mountains in the distance and more beauty around every bend in the winding road. “It is not a country of light on things,” said Georgia O’Keeffe. “It is a country of things in light.”
A Colorful History
With a history as colorful as the surrounding red and yellow cliffs of the Piedra Lumbre (shining stone), Ghost Ranch offers a diversity of programs and adventure. Open year-round, the ranch is committed to spiritual development, peace and justice, honoring the environment and exploring family through the celebration of art, culture and nature.
Rest & Renew
The landscape of Ghost Ranch—made famous by painter Georgia O’Keeffe and the uncomprable hospitality of first director, Jim Hall—encompasses 21,000 acres of towering rock walls, vivid colors and vast skies. People from all over the world come to work together in creation care, to paint, write poetry, to hike, ride horseback, to research globally renowned archaeological and fossil quarries or simply to rest and renew their spirits.
From Dinosaurs to Dudes
Dinosaurs once walked the soggy wetlands that became the arid high desert of Ghost Ranch. Millions of years later Navajos and various other tribes roamed the valley. The Spaniards settled here and then came the cattle rustlers, the wranglers and the dudes. Arthur Pack, one of the country’s first environmentalists, bought the ranch and later, sold a little piece of it, seven acres, to Georgia O’Keeffe. Scientists took respite time here from the stresses of building the nuclear bomb at Los Alamos. Famous guests have included Charles Lindbergh, Ansel Adams and John Wayne.
Arthur Pack and his wife Phoebe gave the ranch to the Presbyterian Church in 1955 and, even though Georgia O’Keeffe wanted the ranch for herself, she eventually became friends of the first director of Ghost Ranch, Jim Hall. The history of Ghost Ranch reads like a novel.
When the cattle rustlers were hiding their stolen goods in the box canyon alongside Kitchen Mesa, they discouraged their neighbors from looking around by spreading the rumor that the land was haunted by evil spirits. “Rancho de los Brujos” it was called, “Ranch of the Witches,” which naturally evolved into Ghost Ranch. The turn-off to Ghost Ranch was marked by an animal skull long before Arthur Pack bought the ranch in 1936. When Georgia O’Keeffe came looking for the ranch she was told to watch for the skull on a fence post. O’Keeffe made a drawing of an ox skull and gave it to Arthur Pack; he promptly adopted the artwork as the logo for Ghost Ranch.
When Pack gave the Ranch to the Presbyterian Church, they used a sketch of Chimney Rock as a logo. By 1971, partly as a result of O’Keeffe’s encouragement, the familiar skull design was firmly established as the official Ghost Ranch logo.
Our Church Roots
Since 1955, Ghost Ranch has been an Education and Retreat Center of the Presbyterian Church and is open to all.
For more than 65 years, the Presbyterian Church has been blessed with this space. To gather around spiritual discipleship, theological discussions and discernment, cultivation of Christian community and the exploration of God’s call to mission in the world. We’re excited and committed to see this mission continue into the future.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been welcoming people to Ghost Ranch since 1955 when Arthur Pack gifted this space to the church for the spiritual health and well being of all mankind.
The ranch recently transitioned to a not-for-profit that is operating the ranch on behalf of the Presbyterian Foundation, still owned by PC(USA). This structure provides unique opportunities for efficiencies and sustainability so that the ranch may continue to offer space and programming for the benefit of all humankind.