The High Plains Society
Applied Anthropology

Ghost Ranch 2016 Retreat

  • Thursday, September 22, 2016
  • 5:00 PM
  • Sunday, September 25, 2016
  • 12:00 PM
  • Abiquiu (Ghost Ranch Conference Center), New Mexico


Once you have confirmed your registration please email Michael Brydge at to make lodging reservations.
Registration is closed



The Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center, near Abiquiu, NM, is the site of the HPSFAA's annual fall retreat, held this year from September 22nd - September 25th. The retreat is a mini-conference set in a relaxed atmosphere and with time for social events. It is a great way to socialize with other members amidst the beauty of the northern New Mexico landscape. The board of directors also usually meets to discuss informant society issues and get input from members. Ghost Ranch is a beautiful place to explore and we truly hope you all are able to attend.


The Ghost Ranch Retreat is an informal event, with flexible schedules and minimal set programming. In addition to some short papers by members and students, past retreats have included workshops, meetings, and even a scavenger hunt/cultural tour of the surrounding area!


There are several types of accommodations available at the Ghost Ranch.  Lodging options include private rooms, dorms, casitas, and a campground. Sleeping rooms are simply furnished with two to six beds. Persons housed in the casitas must bring their own bed and bath linens. Most bathrooms are detached and "dorm-style," but a limited number of rooms have private or semi-private baths. The dining hall, the only source of food at the Ranch, serves cafeteria-style meals and can seat 300 guests. Please email Michael Brydge to make room reservations (

If you would prefer to stay outside the Ranch, check out the Abiquiu Inn. Some members have stayed at this hotel, about a dozen miles down the road, as an alternative to Ghost Ranch accommodations. The Inn is also right next to the Georgia O'Keeffe Home and Studio Tour, which books tours of the artist's former home and studio. 


Ghost Ranch is about 60 miles, or an hour's drive on US 84, from Santa Fe. The drive from Albuquerque, the nearest major airport, is about two hours, or 120 miles. From Denver the drive is about 6 hours; from Tucson 9 hours. For more information on travel to Ghost Ranch, click HERE. You may want to check out some of these driving tours in the area.


Ghost Ranch, set in the northern New Mexico desert, is located in an area that was a low-lying marshy swamp some 250 million years ago. Archaeologists have verified at least 12,000 years of human habitation in the area. Remains of cultures from the past are in evidence on and protected by the Ranch. Area museums (see below) tell the story of the prehistory, history, and current peoples and cultures of the surrounding region.

The 21,000 acres constituting Ghost Ranch were part of lands granted to Pedro Martin Serrano and his family in 1766 and later divided among his heirs. In the 1930s Arthur and Phoebe Pack bought the land surrounding the headquarters and, over a period of many years, added several connecting pieces. After operating Ghost Ranch as a small-scale working and guest ranch, the Packs donated the entire property to the Presbyterian Church in 1955. Since then the Ghost Ranch has functioned as a national adult study center and as a responsible steward of the Northern New Mexico environment.

There are many stories of how Ghost Ranch got its name. Years ago, before the Packs arrived, Hispanic residents called the area El Rancho de los Brujos--the Ranch of the Witches. Tales of wailing babies, a giant snake, a flying red cow and a murderous brother all contribute to local legends surrounding the Ghost Ranch name. A village resident once remarked that this area used to be possessed by evil spirits but that in recent years it has become inhabited by the Holy Spirit. Residents, staff and visitors believe this to be true!

Present day neighbors include Native Americans including Pueblos, Jicarilla-Apache and Navajo. The Hispanic community and more recently arrived Anglo-Americans complete this unique population. Respect for the ancient history of the land and people of the surrounding highlands is fundamental to the Ghost Ranch philosophy. At the same time the Ranch works to be a good neighbor to the twentieth-century residents of this area. Ghost Ranch also benefits from its neighbors. A number of them participate in or lead seminars, sharing their rich cultural heritage. The Ranch has a policy of hiring local people and buying from local merchants when possible. The bilingual and multicultural flavor is an asset to visitors and a lesson in the inter-relatedness of humans and the environment.

In more recent years, the beauty and solitude of this rugged desert environment has attracted people ranging from artists to outdoor recreation enthusiasts to spiritual seekers. Among other new neighbors are two monasteries

For more information about The Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center, go to:


Outside of the retreat itself, the Abiquiui area provides many opportunities for recreation and relaxation. A number of museums are found at or neat the Ghost Ranch or in the surrounding region. There are also miles of hiking trails at the Ghost Ranch and in nearby Carson National Forest. Please note that this is a desert environment with hot, dry days and cold nights. If you are planning to hike, please come prepared with proper clothing, footwear, water bottles and other equipment!

The Piedra Lumbre Education and Visitor Center, located one mile from the Ghost Ranch Conference Center, features exhibits on the area's geology, paleontology and archaeology, as well as on northern New Mexico's culture and history. It also features information on sustainable land use and water management practices being used by communities in the region.

The Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology (photo below) interprets the diverse cultural history of the region and displays contemporary work by Native American, Hispanic and Anglo artists and artisans.

The Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology is named for the wife of first resident Ghost Ranch Director Jim Hall. Displays range from a complete Coelophysis cast skeleton (the state fossil of New Mexico) to remains from great alligator-like reptiles. 

The Georgia O'Keeffe Home and Studio is in nearby Abiquiu. Tours can be arranged at the tour office next to the Abiquiu Inn. For more information and to make reservations in advance, please call 505-685-4539.

Two nearby monasteries, The Monastery of Christ in the Desert and the Monastery of Our Lady of the Desert, welcome visitors and offer gift shops, hiking trails, meditation gardens and religious services.

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