Our Story

About Ghost Ranch

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.”

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.

The landscape of Ghost Ranch—made famous by painter Georgia O’Keeffe—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.

seal_175x175Owned by the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Since 1955 Ghost Ranch has been an Education and Retreat Center of the Presbyterian Church and is open to all.

Tours & Trail Rides
There is much to explore starting with two different guided Georgia O’Keeffe Tours and a Trail Ride through the landscape she painted during the fifty years the artist spent painting and living here. Other guided tours include Archaeology and Paleontology, the Ranch History, and our Movie Site Tour which visits sites of the numerous movies filmed here (Cowboys and Aliens, City Slickers, Wyatt Earp, and many more).

Visitors may tour the Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology, which displays Native American tools, pottery, and ancient artifacts from Paleo Indian culture, 10,000 years ago through ancestral Puebloan times to present time pottery and weavings from local Pueblos.

The adjacent Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology displays the fossils of the Coelophysis (SEE-low-FY-sis), a dinosaur discovered at Ghost Ranch in 1947. Ghost Ranch is the site of one of the best known paleontological digs in the Northern Hemisphere.The Coelophysis Quarry is a National Natural Landmark as designated by the National Park Foundation.

The Welcome Center houses our Trading Post stocked with books, art, O’Keeffe ephemera, and a cafe.

As a retreat center, the Ranch specializes in offering workshops on topics ranging from photography, painting, fiber arts and writing to yoga, wellness, spirituality, sustainability and social justice. Throughout the year guests may choose from a breadth of programs led by kind, nurturing leaders of conscious thought and skilled teachers of creative pursuits. Guests stay in basic, no frills lodging or in the campground and meals in the Dining Hall are included.

Group Facilities
Ghost Ranch is available for groups, meetings and conferences with meeting room areas for a day retreat or week long event with overnight lodging and meal plans for as many as 350 people. Integrate our Farm, Library, Museum Classroom into your program. Our ropes, challenge and waterfront courses help promote team building and interactive fun. The Ghost Ranch Bodywork Program can help your participants renew body and mind.

Overnight Lodging
Our campus and lodging facilities are open for guests who wish to simply lodge here. You may stay while workshops, retreats and conferences are bustling and integrate with this energy over meals in our Dining Hall. Or you may stay when peace abounds. We call this “Overnight Stay Lodging” and it includes breakfast.

While lodging at Ghost Ranch guests have access to the 24-hour library, children’s playground, labyrinth, karesansui garden, water wheel and four hiking trails.

We have a Farm to Table program using our own seasonal farm produce whenever possible. Menus highlight vegetarian entrees. A salad bar is featured at lunch and dinner each day. Meals are served cafeteria style, with choice of indoor or outdoor dining.

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 sold a little piece of it 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.

Name and Logo
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.

From Past to Present
For more than fifty-five years Ghost Ranch has been a national education and retreat center owned by the Presbyterian Church. At one time in history it had the largest number of employees in Rio Arriba County. From the beginning, Ghost Ranch has been deeply involved in support of the surrounding communities and committed to the preservation and protection of the environment.

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

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