Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu NM
I can't recommend a visit here highly enough. That being said, far and away the best part was taking the [Georgia] O'Keefe Landscape Tour, for which you need reservations and may not be available in the future (see below). This entire 21,000 acre property is owned by a church and yearly reviews take place to decide the future of the ranch. Developers would be very anxious to get their hands on it.
The history of the ranch is very interesting. Wikipedia has it pretty well covered.
The short version is that “The canyon was first inhabited by the Archuleta brothers, cattle rustlers who enjoyed the coverage and invisibility that the canyon provided as well as their ability to see for miles down the valley. They created two jacalhomes and would move stolen cattle throughout the night to Box Canyon.
… One day one of the brothers made a transaction without the other, and claimed he had buried the gold for safety. The second brother killed him, and kept his wife and daughter hostage until they admitted to knowing where the gold was hidden...”
The remaining brother was eventually caught and hung.
In the 1920's Roy Pfaffle won the deed to the ranch in a poker game. He sold the land to Arthur Pack, who eventually donated the land to the Presbyterian Church.
Since then the ranch has been run as an educational and retreat center. We were told by our tour guide that the ranch and (and the O'Keefe tour) are at risk of going into private hands because the church cannot sustain the center unless it can return a profit. That would be a terrible loss.
The road in
This old cabin on the way into the Ranch was used in the Movie City Slickers
The Magnificent Seven (2016) opening scene knife fight was filmed in the coral by the cabin.
The retreat includes several small buildings. This is the view.
The O'Keefe Landscape Tour is a small guided motorbus tour through a closed area of the ranch that takes you to the locations of O'Keefe's paintings. The bus would stop, the tour guide would show our small group a photo of one of here paintings, and then point out the very same scene before us. It was REALLY intriguing, because she would often select and paint a simple (but colorful) hillside that you would barely notice because of the grander rugged landscape around it.
There are also features that she would appear many times in her works. Our favorite (and photo op for all the tourists) was a particularly artful dead tree.
The tour guide also mentioned repeatedly the narrow mesa called Cerro Pedernal. O'Keefe had a special connection to “her” mesa which could be seen across a broad valley to the west from most areas of the ranch. O'Keefe would paint it from the roof of her house on the property.
The private road in the ranch and Cerro Pedernal
Georgia O'Keefe's house on the ranch. It is a private residence.
Other photos from the tour:
For a complete list of tours available at the Ghost Ranch click here:
Note that the Georgia O'Keefe Museum also runs a tour of O'Keefe's home and studio inhttps://www.ghostranch.org/visit/tours-trail-rides/Abiquiu
Here is a partial list of Films and TV shot at the Ghost Ranch from the Wikipedia link above:
Wild Wild West(1999)
All the Pretty Horses(2000)
No Country for Old Men(2007)
3:10 to Yuma(2007)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull(2008)
Cowboys & Aliens(2011)
There is a small but significant museum on site. “ Ghost Ranch is the site of one of the best known paleontological digs in the Northern Hemisphere. The bones of the Coelophysis (SEE-low-FY-sis), who roamed the ranch 220 million years ago, were discovered in 1947. Six decades later in 2009, the Tawa Hallae(ta-wa-hay-lee) discovery was reported in the December issue of Science. Also, another specimen of Vancleavea, new, very well preserved, articulated skeleton was discovered at Ghost Ranch.”
Stay tuned for part 3