Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology
Archaeology Tour
Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology
Paleontology Tour

The Museums of Ghost Ranch

The Ghost Ranch Museums are dedicated to advancing research, education and public engagement in Anthropology, Archeology and Paleontology. Come to understand the rich history of the Chama River Valley. See contemporary works hosted as part of the New Mexico Textile Arts. Or see dinosaurs and other fossils found in our very own Ghost Ranch fossil quarries.

The Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology celebrates cultures both past and present, that utilized the Piedra Lumbre Valley at some point in time.

The Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology focuses on fossils that date to the late Triassic (about 200-220 million years ago), including the state fossil of New Mexico, Coelophysis.

Dr. Martha Yates, Manager of the Ghost Ranch Museums and Cultural Programming, worked for many years with the US Forest Service as the District Archaeologist on the Coyote Ranger District (Santa Fe National Forest). She was also a Wildland Firefighter for the USFS. She is a teacher and guide and leads Ghost Ranch excursion road trips to archaeological sites of the Southwest.

In addition to the Museum’s permanent and changing exhibits, we offer tours and a range of exciting activities for visiting school groups throughout the year. 

Hours of Operation

  • Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday:  1:00 to 5:00 p.m.


  • There is a $5.00 conservation fee payable at the Welcome Center that allows guest access to hiking trails, labyrinth, Museums, bathroom facilities and campus grounds. Select from a broad spectrum of activities listed on the Come for the Day page of our website, each designed to enhance a unique facet of Ghost Ranch.

Exhibit Opening

Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology

Among the many feisty women who have called Ghost Ranch their home is Florence Hawley Ellis, one of the first women to receive a PhD in anthropology (from the University of Chicago, in 1934). In her definitive history book called Ghost Ranch (available for purchase at the Trading Post), Lesley Poling-Kempes describes Ellis and her students’ discovery of an archaeological site north of the Ranch that rocked the world of anthropology in 1971. Poling-Kempes writes, “Dr. Ellis assured everyone that what had just happened – the finding of so many entire ceramic pots hidden in a lava field – never happens. It was a remarkable site to have stumbled upon.”

The museum is named for the late Dr. Florence Hawley Ellis, long-time professor of anthropology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Dr. Ellis initiated and led Ghost Ranch archaeology excavations from 1971 until 1990. Excavations continue on two sites located on Ghost Ranch property under the leadership of Chris Crews, Curator and Director of the Ghost Ranch Museums.

The Museum of Anthropology at Ghost Ranch displays ancient artifacts from Paleo-Indian culture, 10,000 years ago, through ancestral Puebloan times to present time pottery and weavings from local Pueblos. Exhibits of the work of local artists, as well as a fascinating gift shop, add to the excitement of a visit to the Florence Hawley Ellis Museum.

Both Ghost Ranch museums offer summer and fall educational seminars where participants are invited to experience and contribute to field and lab work in archeology and paleontology.

Ghost Ranch also offers tours of both fossil and archaeological localities.

School Outreach
Annually, approximately 2,000-3,000 school children visit the anthropology and paleontology museum on field trips and have the opportunity to learn about local cultures by participating in related educational activities such as traditional tinwork, sand painting, and straw-inlay work, as well as having the chance to hike to archaeological sites found on Ghost Ranch.

To arrange an outing for your school group or to have a visit made to your school, call the museum at 505.685.1000, ext. 4118.

Rock Art
There was no written language in the prehistoric Southwest. Students will tell their own story using symbols instead of words.
35-‐45 min, indoor/outdoor 2nd – 6th
25 person max

Sand Painting
Navajo sand painting was first used for healing ceremonies and later became a popular art. Students will make designs using colorful Ghost Ranch sands.
35-‐45 min, indoor/outdoor 2nd – 8th
25 person max

Straw Inlay
Students will decorate cardboard shapes with straw and corn husk as they learn about this traditional Spanish art form of northern New Mexico.
35-‐45 min, indoor/outdoor 2nd – 8th
25 person max

Tin Work
Create tinwork pieces with a simple hammer and punch and learn how this art form relates to the history of Northern New Mexico and the Santa Fe Trail.
35-‐45 min, indoor/outdoor 4th – 8th
25 person max

Museum Super Sleuth
Students will use Museum clues to learn the history of the people living in this area. The activity emphasizes discovery through reading and careful observation of exhibits.
30-‐40 min, indoor 4th – 8th
30 person max

Visit an Archaeology Site
Visit one of many prehistoric sites at Ghost Ranch with an archaeologist as your guide. Students can discover artifacts and learn how an archaeologist interprets them.
1 – 1.5 hr, outdoor 4th – Adult
25 person max

ArchaeArchaeology of Ghost Ranch Tour

Join us for a walking tour to archaeological sites on our 21,000-acre property. There are two sites currently being excavated: One rock-shelter site dating back 8,000 years and the second that dates back 2,000 years. Both sites have been the focus of excavation for seminar groups for several years. Dr. Florence Hawley Ellis spent many years at Ghost Ranch teaching, excavating and cataloging discoveries from the area. Our anthropology museum bears Dr. Ellis’ name and includes artifacts from several different indigenous tribes who have lived and hunted in this area. April 5th– October 25th Allow 2 hours for 2 miles of walking. Tours limited to #8 guests Dogs are not allowed on tours.

Cost: $200 for #1 – #2 people and $50 each additional guests, max. #8 Call 505.685.1016 for Availability

Questions? Call our Welcome Center at 505.685.1000, ext. 0

The Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology
It is not hard to imagine the dinosaurs walking along the edges of the buttes overlooking Ghost Ranch. From the corner of your eye it sometimes feels like you’ve caught a glimpse of the shadow of the long neck and tail of these creatures. Especially after visiting the museum, it’s more tempting to stop and study the rocks along the edges of the trails. A visit to the Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology brings it all alive.

The museum focuses on the fossils and the environment of the late Triassic Period between 200 and 220 million years ago at the Dawn of the Age of Dinosaurs. The Coelophysis Quarry is a National Natural Landmark as designated by the National Park Foundation.

Three well-known fossil quarries contribute to our exhibits on early Mesozoic life. The Canjilon Quarry, discovered in the 1920s on U. S. Forest Service land adjacent to Ghost Ranch, has produced some of the best skeletons of both the armored herbivorous aetosaurs and also skeletons of phytosaurs the giant crocodile-like predators of the Triassic swamps. The Coelophysis Quarry, discovered in 1947 on the Ghost ranch property, preserves a unique assemblage of several thousand skeletons of the small dinosaur Coelophysis in addition to other rarer Triassic vertebrates.

A twelve-ton block of mudstone, one of the many large blocks removed from this site, is currently undergoing preparation as the centerpiece of our museum exhibits. Museum visitors may interact with the paleontologist as he meticulously removes the rock that has encased the bones for over 200 million years. A new discovery from the preparation of this block is the first complete skeleton of strange armored swimming reptile Vancleavea. Both a cast of this unique skeleton and a life-size model of the bizarre animal are on exhibit.

In 2002 a new locality, the Hayden Quarry, was discovered by hikers at Ghost Ranch. This new quarry has produced a diverse fauna of more than twenty species of land vertebrates preserved along with charcoalized fossil wood from wildfires in the Triassic forest they lived in. These fossils include Dromomeron the first recognized dinosaur precursor from North America, and Tawa, the oldest North American dinosaur known from a complete skeleton. Ongoing field work at the Hayden Quarry promises to reveal new discoveries.

The museum is named for amateur paleontologist Ruth Hall, wife of first resident Ghost Ranch Director Jim Hall. Today the Museum of Paleontology houses not only the huge block of bones but also numerous exhibits, photographs and life-sized replicas of dinosaurs found on the Ranch. Well worth a visit, even if you’re not a child.


The Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology | School Outreach
Annually, approximately 2,000-3,000 school children visit the anthropology and paleontology museum on field trips and have the opportunity to learn about local cultures by participating in related educational activities such as traditional tinwork, sand painting, and straw-inlay work, as well as having the chance to hike to archaeological sites found on Ghost Ranch.

To arrange an outing for your school group or to have a visit made to your school, call the museum at 505.685.1000, ext. 4118.



Fossil Bone Casting
Students will make plaster copies of dinosaur and other prehistoric animal’s teeth, claws and bones. Messy activity – students should wear clothes that can get dirty. This activity is best coupled with a museum tour, hike, or other activity, as the fossil casts need time to dry.
1 hour, outdoor 2nd to high school
20 person max

Bone Dig
Young students experience what it is like to be a paleontologist as they dig for real bones and assemble a skeleton from their finds.
30-‐40 min, outdoor Headstart – 1st
25 person max

Dino Quilt
Each student will draw and color their favorite dinosaur onto a square of colored paper. Joined all together, it becomes a bright dinosaur quilt to take back to the classroom.
30-‐40 min, indoor Headstart – 2nd
25 person max

Quarry Hike
A geology hike to the quarry where the dinosaur Coelophysis (the NM state fossil) was discovered. Sedimentary rocks are discussed. Walking shoes, water, hat, and sunscreen required. Some steep terrain.
1.5 hours, outdoor 2nd to Adult
25 person max

Chimney Rock Hike
View the sedimentary rocks and the forces that shaped the Ghost Ranch landscape. Three-mile hike; steep terrain. Walking shoes, water, hat, and sunscreen required.
2 – 2.5 hours, outdoor 3rd – Adult
25 person max

Museum Tour
Take a guided tour of the colorful exhibits and have a close-up look at our world‐famous Late Triassic fossils as they are uncovered from the block.
20-‐40 min, indoor Headstart – Adult
20 person max


dinoPaleontology of Ghost Ranch Tour

This tour focuses on the Triassic fossils discovered here at Ghost Ranch. Coelophysis, the New Mexico state fossil, was found here in 1947. Get a chance to step back in time geologically and historically to better understand the significance of this famous dinosaur. We drive and then walk to the Coelophysis quarry site, a National Natural Landmark, and learn about the story told by the colorful geologic strata of the Ranch. After your visit to the quarry, you will have a personal tour of the museum exhibits, and a visit to the paleontology lab to look at new fossil discoveries. 2 hours, 1 mile of walking Limited to 8 guests. Dogs are not allowed on tours.

Time: 10:00 a.m. Thursdays April to October
Cost: $49/adults, $24/students (5 – 17)  Thursdays April 4 –  October 24




Archaeology, Geology & Paleontology

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