The High Plains Society
Applied Anthropology

2019 HPSfAA Fall Retreat at Ghost Ranch Retreat Center

  • Thursday, September 19, 2019
  • 5:00 PM
  • Sunday, September 22, 2019
  • 12:00 PM
  • Abiquiu (Ghost Ranch Conference Center), New Mexico


Once you have confirmed your registration, please contact Ghost Ranch directly to make you lodging reservations.
Registration is closed


2019 HPSfAA Ghost Ranch Fall Retreat

September 19-22, 2019

"Gathering of Threads"

  Usually in presentations, there is an emphasis on the finished, the polished, and the answered questions. We invite you to bring your “other” works, the unfinished, the un-polished, and the un-answerable questions. We would like you to share your unfinished works, or reflections upon yourself as an unfinished work. We want presentations that end with I don’t know or I’m not sure what’s next. These unfinished works often represent complex and powerful relationships with people and ideas that refuse to be reduced or generalized.

  Each of us represents a loose end in our own life, in our work, and in the communities we visit. As we weft and warp a tapestry of relationships, every thread’s story becomes intimately tangled to each and every place they pass through. This gathering of threads also reflects the weaving together of the people with whom we frame significant discourses of our own.

¡2019 Fall Retreat Program!

¡Available, Click Here!

Student Travel Scholarship Award: HPSfAA offers a Travel Award to assist students in covering their cost of travel to the Spring Conference. If you are interested in applying for the award, please send your contact information to the HPSfAA Planning Committee via the address given below along with a short explanation request and the completed presentation proposal. Selected Recipient is required to register, attend, and present for the conference in order to receive funds. Deadline to apply is September 14, 2019, 11:59pm. Please email Joe Garrett,

Ghost Ranch Retreat Center

The Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center, near Abiquiu, NM, is the site of the HPSFAA's annual fall retreat, held this year from September 21st - September 24th, 2017. 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 (beyond Bode's General Store in Abiquiu), serves cafeteria-style meals and can seat 300 guests. 


Camping: $35 per campsite, per night

Private, Double Occupancy Room: $150 USD per night 

Semi-Private, Double Occupancy: $140 USD per night 

Dorm, Double Occupancy Room (Corral Block): $85 USD per night 

Dorm, Double Occupancy Room (Casita): $80 USD per night

Conservation Fee: $5 USD per guest

Note: Room accommodations must be made directly with Ghost Ranch Retreat Center, 1-505-685-1000. Please indicate to their representatives that your part of the High Plains Society group. 


Professional (Current Member) - $60.00 USD

Professional Couple (Current Member) - $90.00 USD

Professional (Non-member) - $65.00 USD

Student (Current Member) - $45.00 USD

Student (Non-member) - $50.00 USD

Notes: All presenters must pay registration. There is an additional 2.7% surcharge if your registration is paid for using PayPal. Payments by cash, check or money order are not subject to this fee and can be made prior to Fall Retreat or upon arrival.

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. Another option for accommodations is Airbnb.


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 traveling 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 New Mexican 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 Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology 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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