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Georgia O'Keeffe's Ghost Ranch

Georgia visited Northern New Mexico in 1917 and fell in love with it then. But it was 12 years later that she returned and not until 1934 that she decided to make Ghost Ranch her summer home. She would spend her summers hiking, exploring and painting the area and in the winter go to New York

Gerogia O'keeffe

Although she wanted to buy the ranch she could not because it was a dude ranch owned by someone else. She rented a secluded area with a modest house. Instead. Until one summer she convinced the owner to sell her a small part of Ghost Ranch which was a house and 7 acres. Later on she did buy 3 acres in Abiquii and spent three years remodeling the old adobe that was on the property. After her husband Alfred Stieglitz died, Georgia made Abiquiu her permanent home.

Ghost Ranch is in Abiquiu about an hour and a half north of Santa Fe.


The 21,000 acres that comprise Ghost Ranch were part of a land grant to Pedro Martin Serrano from the King of Spain in 1766. The name "Ghost Ranch", or the local name Rancho de los Brujos, was derived from the many tales of ghosts and legends of hangings in the Ranch's history.

As seen in the paintings done by O’Keeffe rock palaces of red, orange pink, gold, and variations of browns surround this area. The colors are layered in wide bands like the layers of an exquisite dessert. Georgia loved the mountain Pedernal. She was fond of proclaiming that if she painted it often enough, God would give it to her.

Some of her other favorite subjects to paint were the hills across from the ranch headquarters and Kitchen Mesa at the upper end of the valley.

In 1955 the owners of Ghost Ranch sold it to the Presbyterian Church. This irritated O’Keeffe because she wanted to buy it. She did not like the Presbyterians, but the church and the staff after many years of understanding and kindness moved into Georgia’s heart. The staff would help her with her secretarial work, maintenance on her property, and eventually O’Keefe spend a Christmas dinner with the directors.

Georgia O’Keeffe made many monetary donations to the ranch and today structures can be seen that were constructed with her aid.

During the last years of Georgia’s life she did not go to Abiquiu but resided in Santa Fe. She died at the age of 99 reclusive to the end. She was quoted as saying “I find people very difficult”.

Ghost Ranch was her respite and gave her the freedom and opportunity to paint her surroundings with the joy it gave her.

Today Ghost Ranch is a retreat and education center run by the Presbyterian church.. This center offers various classes in everything from writing photography, silversmithing, and sacred journeys. There is now a Santa Fe Ghost Ranch location as well.

In Abiquiu, you can enjoy the hiking trails and labyrinth. You can also use individual time for rest and reflection and explore the fine library which is open twenty-four hours a day.

There are also Ghost Ranch Anthropology and Paleontology museums.

The Museum Gift Shop offers fine pottery and jewelry by local artists, and other gift items Books for adults and children, art and gift items, logo t-shirts and sweatshirts, film, and personal items are available at the Trading Post.

Nationally certified, licensed massage therapists offer massage and integrative bodywork daily.

Ghost Ranch was the place of solace and inspiration for Georgia O’Keeffe who reluctantly shared it for years with the rest of us.

If you wish to spend the night in this beautiful area we recommend the Abiquiu Inn

Eileen Richardson

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