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Escape to Ghost Ranch

Wellness on the high desert

A painted desert, sandstone cliffs and a winding riverfront make up the awe-inspiring landscape of Ghost Ranch. Ghost Ranch is 38 miles north of Espanola. The resort makes up only 500 of the 21,000 acres that encompass the land near Abiquiu, New Mexico. Within Ghost Ranch there are a variety of unique landscapes to enjoy like the Cliff’s, the waterfront and the Painted Desert. The wellness offerings at the resort as diverse as the landscape itself. The area was made famous by painter Georgia O’Keefe who once lived and painted there.

The resort’s wellness options ebb and flow at Ghost Ranch like sand blowing across the desert. “It’s always shifting. It’s very organic and based on who is traveling through the area at the time,” says Laura Hand Outdoor Adventures and Hospitality Manager. Many visiting wellness instructors come to teach at Ghost Ranch. There are a large number of instructors that come from Santa Fe and Taos to teach yoga, tai chi, and sound healing.

The resort utilizes the natural beauty of the area to its fullest potential. “Ones connection to nature and the landscape can be a spiritual and connective experience,” says Joanne Lefrak, Ghost Ranch’s Director of Experience and Social Impact.  Slowing down and being in the moment are two gifts visitors hope to receive from their time at the resort. Guest rooms are free from phones, televisions and alarm clocks. Cell phone service is limited and Wi-Fi access is only available at certain spots around the ranch. The goal is to disconnect from the everyday grind.

Ghost Ranch is known as ”a place of great beauty to nurture the human spirit and mind.” Guests can renew their mind and body with yoga, massage and sound healing. Sound baths are a unique resort experience that uses Tibetan bowls, frame drums and other instruments to bring guests into a deep state of relaxation. The goal is to release what may be stuck physically and emotionally.

There are a variety of transformative experiences available at the resort including writing retreats, team building, family reunions and artist programs. Lefrak says, “Art is another way to be inspired and connected even though it is not traditional massage and wellness.” Drawing, painting, and ceramics are part of the arts programming at resort. The high rocks walls, beautiful blue skies and colorful surroundings made Ghost Ranch a favorite subject for O’Keefe’s landscapes. Visitors can retrace O’Keefe’s steps during a landscape hike at the resort.

The beauty of Ghost Ranch has brought the film industry and other artists like O’Keefe to the area. “It’s perfect for photo shoots and the film industry, “says Lefrak. There’s a huge range of offerings. The experiences are diverse and meaningful. Lefrak says working at Ghost Ranch feeds her passion of bringing interesting opportunity to visitors. “When we have transformative experiences we improve the world around us.” Many guests are return visitors to Ghost Ranch and almost “like a pilgrimage it becomes part of who they are.”

Day visitors can experience the museums, history tours, hiking and horseback riding. Hiking is available year-round for day visitors and overnight guests. For overnight stays Ghost Ranch offers simple rustic lodging surrounded by outdoor beauty. 

There are two museums that are open daily.  The Florence Hawley Ellis Museum is an archaeology and anthropology museum with Dr. Ellis’ work. The artifacts date back 10,000 years from Paleo-Indian culture. Ancestral Pueblo pottery and weaving are also on display. The Ruth Hall Museum houses paleontology treasures from the area. The museum has many fossils from the late Triassic Period around 200 million years ago.

Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and make a reservation for horseback riding and other special activities at the resort. Horseback riding is offered at Orphan Mesa (“Mesa Vista” trail ride) or the artist’s area called “Georgia Landscape.” “You get the feel of the west and our wranglers are really amazing,” says Lefrak. 

Visitors at Ghost Ranch can also travel to a private waterfront on Abiquiu Lake. The lake offers kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing with a private guide. Overnight guests can experience a special sunrise paddle board and yoga in the morning before breakfast. 

Camping, hiking, and horseback riding are just a few of the activities that Ghost Ranch visitors can experience. Five main trails start on the property and take hikers into Carson National Forest. The “Footsteps tour” is a beginner level, two-mile hike that brings hikers into the areas where O’Keefe once painted. Another guided hike take explorers to Coelophysis Dinosaur Quarry. The area is rich with active quarries, dinosaur fossils, and paleontology discoveries. Several hundred Coelophysis dinosaur skeletons were discovered in 1947 at the Ghost Ranch quarry. “It’s very beautiful and so extraordinarily unique,” says Hand. “There is a ton of history dating back through the Jurassic. You can feel the history generating through the landscape.” The paleontology tour is a popular activity for families to enjoy time together and visit the historic quarries. 

Camping is available from May till the end of October and is complete with a bathhouse and space for tents. There are also spots for RV’s on a first come first serve basis. Some of the RV sites include full hook-ups.

In the summer guests can raft on the Chama River and swim in the outdoor pool. Team building activities include archery, a climbing wall, and ropes challenge courses. 

Ghost Ranch is in a remote part of the desert. Bring sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and be prepared to be amazed. Visit www.ghostranch.org for more details.

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