Eight decades of magic and beauty at Ghost Ranch

  • Ghost Ranch

  New Mexico’s most famous resort, Ghost Ranch, has charmed many visitors. One overwhelmed admirer proclaimed that any description of the place amounted to "an advertisement for God and New Mexico." Area historian Lesley Poling-Kempes tells the story of Ghost Ranch and its lovers in her absorbing new book, Ghost Ranch.

Ghost Ranch covers 20,000 acres of spare, wild earth at the northern edge of the Piedra Lumbre basin in north-central New Mexico, where El Rito del Yeso begins its journey toward the Chama River.

For centuries, Tewas, Navajos, and Apaches hunted seasonally in Yeso Canyon. In the late 1800s, after ranchers hanged a gang of cattle rustlers there, locals swore the place was haunted and dubbed it el rancho de los brujos — the ranch of the witches. A poker win in 1927 delivered the land to Carol Stanley, a Boston-born musician who ventured West and eked out a living managing guest houses. Stanley named the place Ghost Ranch and built its casitas and bunkhouses. By the time she sold the ranch in 1935, it was renowned among its wealthy clientele for "practical simplicity" and epic beauty.

A frequent guest at the ranch, painter Georgia O’Keeffe purchased a cottage there and became the most famous of Ghost Ranch’s lovers. O’Keeffe immortalized the surreal energy of those desert lands, painting iconic animal skulls and cliffs throbbing under cloudless skies. The local landmark, Cerro Pedernal, "is my private mountain," she once declared. "God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it."

Ghost Ranch is now a Presbyterian retreat center open to all denominations. And the magic that ensnared O’Keeffe lingers, writes Poling-Kempes: "Every person who has ever called Ghost Ranch home for any length of time continues to call Ghost Ranch home for the rest of their lives."

High Country News Classifieds
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • FEATURES DIRECTOR - HIGH COUNTRY NEWS
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Features Director to join our editorial...
  • GENERAL MANAGER
    The Board of UYWCD seeks a new GM to manage operations & to implement our robust strategic plan. Details at www.upperyampawater.com. EOE
  • IN TUCSON, FOR SALE: A BEAUTIFUL, CLASSIC MID-CENTURY MODERN HOME
    designed by architect David Swanson in 1966. Located a block from Saguaro National Forest, yet minutes to Downtown and the UofA campus, 3706 sqft, 6...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Friends of the San Juans is seeking a new leader guide our efforts to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish...
  • 80 ACRES
    straddles North Platte Fishery, Wyoming. Legal access 2 miles off 1-80. Call 720-440-7633.
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • IMPROVED LOT
    Private road, hillside, views. Well, pad, septic, 99 sq.ft. hut. Dryland permaculture orchard. Wildlife. San Diego--long growing season
  • UNIQUE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
    Profitable off-the-grid business located 2 miles from Glacier National Park. Owner has 6 years operating experience. Seeking investor or partner for business expansion and enhancement....
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...