The Ghost Ranch Retreat Center

Chimney Rock, Abiquiu
Aileen O'Catherine

Ghost Ranch is a retreat center located near the village of Abiquiu, about an hour north of Santa Fe. The ranch features an anthropology and paleontology museum, hiking trails, overnight lodging, a campground, outdoor activities and a gathering place for groups and meetings. Ghost Ranch is well known for its workshops, which come in a wide range of topics such as geology, pottery, photography, paleontology and more. There are week-long courses on music, health and wellness, art, spirituality and other topics, and one of its most popular, archaeology.


Ghost Ranch is an excellent destination for a day trip. The Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology is home to the New Mexico state fossil, Coelophysis, a small dinosaur that was discovered at the ranch in 1947. The Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology displays artifacts from the Gallina, Tewa and other prehistoric cultures that once inhabited the area. The museum also has more contemporary displays of Spanish colonial arts.

The tours at Ghost Ranch can feature topics such as the paleontology and archaeology of the area. There are also tours that feature the artist Georgia O'Keefe.

When people think of Ghost Ranch, the artist Georgia O'Keefe comes to mind. O'Keefe spent many years at Ghost Ranch painting the landscape that surrounded her studio near the New Mexico town of Abiquiu. When O'Keefe first visited Ghost Ranch in 1934, it was a dude ranch and the land was owned by Carol Stanley. O'Keefe became enchanted with the area, and stayed in New Mexico in summers and New York in winters. For years, she rented a house on the land called Rancho de los Burros, which she bought in 1940.

The house and a surrounding seven acres became her base for creating some of her most famous pieces of art.

The rest of Ghost Ranch still belonged to Arthur Pack, the man who bought it from Carol Stanley. As Pack grew older, he worried about what would happen to the ranch. He spoke with different agencies and finally decided to leave the land and its buildings to the Presbyterian church. It remains with the church today. 

Tour the area on horseback and ride to the area where O'Keefe once walked and painted. There is also a walking tour through the red hills O'Keefe loved, which details the history, geology and culture of the area. The O'Keefe landscape tour is by bus and allows you to see the landscape as seen in O'Keefe's paintings. 

As part of a weekend getaway, Ghost Ranch offers the beauty of the landscape and recreation in warm weather on Abiquiu Lake and the Chama River. Boating and river rafting are popular. A campground is open late April through early October and has a bathhouse and hookups for RVs and tents. 

Overnight guests can stay in the Ghost Ranch Lodge, where breakfast is included. 

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