The glorious vistas of Ghost Ranch were made famous by painter Georgia O’Keeffe. The property encompasses 21,000 acres of colorful canyons, magnificent mesas, and spectacular stone spires. Located on the eastern edge of the Colorado Plateau, the open space and cloud dappled skies have provided a retreat and respite for thousands of humans over the years. In the late 1800s the canyons provided a sanctuary for cattle rustlers and bandits. More recently, the spectacular southwestern landscape has provided inspiration for artists, photographers, writers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Scientists from Los Alamos took a break from the stress of of building the nuclear bomb during work on the Manhattan Project. Famous guests have included Charles Lindbergh, Ansel Adams and John Wayne.
People visit from around the world to attend workshops, to paint, to write, to hike, to ride horses, to research archaeological sites or the fossil quarries, or simply to spend quiet, quality time with family or friends. Overall, Ghost Ranch is a great place to relax, recharge, and recalibrate when you want (or need) to take refuge from the clamor of the world.
Ghost Ranch is currently open to day visitors from all states. Choose from tours, trail rides or day passes for hiking and museum visits. Due to New Mexico Department of Health covid public health protocols limiting capacity, they require reservations. Please review the Covid Status page to prepare for your visit. Click here to make a reservation.
Day Pass for visits to the museums and your choice of two hiking trails are $10 per adult and youth are free. Rio Arriba County residents are always free of charge, but everyone needs to pre-register and most of the ranch remains off-limits.
O’Keeffe Trail Rides and Tours are also available. Ghost Ranch is open Wednesdays – Sundays from 9 AM – 4 PM. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays except to trail riders.
Ghost Ranch Geology
If you are a geology enthusiast, Ghost Ranch is an example of Mother Nature showing off. Portions of ancient rivers, vast deserts, saline lakes, broad mudflats, and ocean shorelines have been preserved at the ranch.
The Ranch is located on the far eastern end of the Colorado Plateau, with deep, multicolored canyons and cliffs, open plains, grasslands, and streams, a precious commodity in the southwest. The Colorado Plateau, which occupies parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado, has been a relatively stable block in the Earth’s crust for at least 600 million years. However, the Rio Grande Rift is just to the east, as you descend into Abiquiu. It is one of five active rift zones in the world, an area of ongoing geologic activity and evolution.
The history of Ghost Ranch is a peek into the planet’s evolution. Long ago, prior to the continents drifting around and re-arranging themselves, Ghost Ranch was equatorial and dinosaurs roamed soggy wetlands. The quarry at Ghost Ranch has produced one of the world’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils, including the world’s only complete Coelophysis, which is New Mexico’s State fossil.
Humans moved into the region thousands of years ago. In that time, many tribes have occupied the area; Puebloan, Ute, Navajo, etc. However, Ghost Ranch’s archaeological record predates adobe walls and kivas. Its sites and hearths date back 8,000 years.
Europeans are the newcomers. The Spaniards settled in the area in 1598 and the Americans moved in after the Mexican-American War in 1848. In the late 1800s, cattle rustlers hid their stolen livestock in the box canyon alongside Kitchen Mesa. They discouraged people in the area from looking around by spreading rumors that the land was haunted by “evil spirits.” They referred to it as Rancho de los Brujos, Ranch of the Witches.
Ghost Ranch’s history as Ghost Ranch started with Arthur Pack. He purchased the ranch in 1936, shortly after Georgia O’Keeffe discovered the place in 1934. At the time, the turn-off to Ghost Ranch was marked by an animal skull. On Georgia O’Keeffe’s first trip to Ghost Ranch, the skull on the fence post was the landmark she was told to watch for to find the place. Later, she sketched an ox skull and gave it to Arthur. He adopted the artist’s sketch as the logo for the ranch, permanently fusing O’Keeffe’s legacy to Ghost Ranch’s history.
Dorothy Brett and Mabel Dodge Luhan, invited Georgia O’Keeffe to Taos in 1929. Though she fell in love with New Mexico on her first visit, she didn’t get an opportunity to visit Ghost Ranch until 1934 when she planned to stay for a night and ended up staying for the summer. That decision established a routine that she followed for years wherein she would spend the winter in New York and spend the summer wandering at Ghost Ranch, soaking up the solitude and painting whatever caught her eye.
Though she was merely a repeat guest, she became proprietary about her cabin, which was deliberately isolated from the headquarters and other guests. Arthur Pack, the owner of Ghost Ranch, sold 7-acres and the beloved cabin to her in 1940.
Whereas the small cabin was ideal as a summer place, Georgia wanted a winter home, with a garden. She bought 3-acres in Abiquiu, remodeling an old, dilapidated adobe home over the course of three years. When her husband died, O’Keeffe left New York permanently. The home and studio in Abiquiu became her full-time residence.
Whether visiting for the day or longer, there is a lot to do at Ghost Ranch. They offer hiking year-round, with five trails to choose from. Seasonally they offer waterfront canoeing and kayaking, guided hikes, archery, and climbing wall activities.
Day Trips & Tours
Ghost Ranch has reopened for day trips and tours. However, they have limited capacity due to covid restrictions. Pleasure purchase a day pass or make a reservation ahead of time.
Horseback Trail Rides
Rides are offered at 10 AM and 2 PM every day. Sunset rides are offered on Tuesday and Thursday. Rides are limited to five riders and masks are required.
- O’Keeffe Landscape Tour | 1 hour 15 minute tour, starting at $39
- O’Keeffe Landscape Trail Ride | 90 Minute Ride, $95 | Popular. Sells out quickly.
- O’Keeffe Landscape Trail Ride at Sunset | 1.5 Hour Tour, starting at $95
Archery at Ghost Ranch
Become a marksman at Ghost Ranch.
Schedule: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 2 – 3 PM.
Cost: Adults & Youth – $15/1 hour. Limited to 8 participants. Minimum age is 7 years old.
Explore a Ghost Ranch hiking trail with an experienced guide. Destination based on the group. Please check-in at the Adventure Tree in front of the Dining Hall 15 minutes prior to hike time.
Museums & Library | The library is currently closed.
The Ghost Ranch Museums are dedicated to advancing research, education and public engagement in Anthropology, Archeology and Paleontology. Exhibits include contemporary works, hosted as part of the New Mexico Textile Arts, as well as dinosaurs (and other fossils) found in the Ghost Ranch fossil quarries.
The Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology celebrates the human cultures of the region and the Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology focuses on the dinosaurs that preceded humans, with an impressive fossil collection dating to the late Triassic period, about 200-220 million years ago. The collection includes a fossil of New Mexico’s state dinosaur, Coelophysis.
Yes, we have a state dinosaur fossil. What? You don’t?
- Advanced reservations required. They check at the gate. Guests from all states are welcome. Covid safety guidelines, social distancing and mask-wearing are required of all guests. Please review the Covid Status page so you can be prepared for your visit.
- Your temperature before you head to the Welcome Center. They reserve the right to refuse entry to the ranch to any guest with a fever or exhibiting other covid symptoms.
- Dogs are not allowed on tours.
- Tour fee includes museum entry before or after your tour time.
- Travel from Santa Fe varies between 1 hour and 20 to 1 hour and 45 minutes depending on traffic.
Georgia O’Keeffe Landscape Tour
Guests travel by bus to a restricted area of Ghost Ranch where O’Keeffe lived and painted many of her best-known landscapes. The tour includes the history of Ghost Ranch, an overview of the high desert flora and fauna in the region, and information about the amazing geology that sculpted the surrounding landscape. You will need sturdy walking shoes, a hat, water, sunscreen, and a long-sleeve shirt or windbreaker.
Schedule: From April 1 – November 30, Thursday – Tuesday at 10:00 AM and 1:30 PM. From December 1 – March 31, Thursday – Sunday at 1:30 PM. The tour takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Cost: $39/adults and $24/youth (ages 5-17). Limited to 9 guests.
Walking in O’Keeffe’s Footsteps Tour
This walking tour will take guests to the restricted area of Ghost Ranch where Georgia O’Keeffe lived, painted and found inspiration, including walking through “her red hills,” the Chinle formation. The guide leads guests to O’Keeffe’s painting sites, comparing prints of her paintings to the surrounding terrain.
The tour includes the history of Ghost Ranch, an overview of the high desert flora and fauna in the region, and information about the amazing geology that sculpted the surrounding landscape. Bring good walking shoes, a hat, water, sunscreen, and a long-sleeve shirt or windbreaker.
Schedule: March 29th – November 29th, Mondays and Fridays 9 – 11:15 AM. Tour involves walking about 2 miles.
Cost: $79/adults and $39/youth (ages 5-17). Limited to 8 guests.
Wednesdays with O’Keeffe Tour
2021 dates have not been confirmed or added to the booking calendar at this time. Offerings are dependent upon NM state covid mandates.
This tour is an immersive experience in the landscape and lifestyle that Georgia O’Keeffe loved. The tour starts in Abiquiu with a tour of Georgia’s home and studio. A bus ferries guests to Ghost Ranch for lunch in the dining hall. Lunch is followed by the Georgia O’Keeffe landscape tour, which entails visiting the locations of O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch paintings. Additionally, participants receive a free pass to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. The pass is good for two weeks after the tour.
Movie Sets of Ghost Ranch Tour
Visit the sites of movies filmed at Ghost Ranch, including Cowboys and Aliens, 3:10 to Yuma, The Missing, Comanche Moon, Georgia O’Keeffe, City Slickers, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Wyatt Earp, and Silverado.
Schedule: Saturdays during the summer. Involves walking about one mile.
Cost: $49/adults, $24/students. As a private tour, the cost is $200 for one or two guests ($50 for each additional guest, with an 8 guest limit).
The Paleontology tour focuses on Triassic fossils discovered at Ghost Ranch. For example, Coelophysis, the New Mexico state fossil was found here in 1947. Guides drive you to the original quarry site where you can step back in time geologically and historically.
Schedule: From April – October at 10 AM on Thursdays. Allow 2 hours, with a walking distance of 2 miles.
Cost: $49/adults and $24/youth (ages 5-17). 8 guest limit.
Archaeology of Ghost Ranch Tour
Archaeology of Ghost Ranch Tour will resume in May, 2021. The tour entails walking to a 2000-year old rock-shelter. The archaeological site has been the focus of excavation for years. In fact, the anthropology museum includes artifacts from the excavation.
Schedule: From May – October. Allow 2 hours, with a walking distance of 2 miles.
Cost: $200 for one or two guests ($50 for each additional guest, with a max of 8).
They are currently booking May 16-29th, which is a half residency of 13-nights at a special early bird rate of $1750. Additionally, there are a few openings for two residencies of 26-nights in June and August. Cost is $3750.
Workshops & Retreats
The current public health protocols impede group events; however, Ghost Ranch is hoping to schedule more workshops and retreats as 2021 progresses.
Art, Music & Writing
Southwest Culture & Georgia O’Keeffe
Archaeology & Paleontology
Adult & Youth Service Corps
Summer Youth Activities Program
God & Nature Retreats
Health & Wellness Retreats
Stillpoint Spiritual Direction Training
9 AM – 4 PM, Wednesday – Sunday
Closed Monday – Tuesday (Temporary)