Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ghost Ranch RVing - Kitchen Mesa Hike

Greg points to our hiking destination: The top of Kitchen Mesa.
A couple of weekends ago we went overnight to Ghost Ranch and took the Kitchen Mesa Hike. What a great hike! If you haven't been to Ghost Ranch in Northern New Mexico then you need to update your "Places I Want To Go" list.

Ghost Ranch is near Abiquiu Reservoir. The scenery is spectacular. Famous artist, Georgia O'Keeffe, had a home here and created many of her amazing paintings here. Karen and I have been to Ghost Ranch a few times. We've taken the Chimney Rock hike a few times and love it. Our plan for this trip was to stay overnight in our camper van, which we have never done at Ghost Ranch, and hike the Kitchen Mesa Trail.

It was spectacular. I think it's my new favorite New Mexico hike. Ghost Ranch is run by the Presbyterian Church. They do a lot of retreat programs at the ranch and they have a campground. There are quite a few campsites in the camp. They have about four spots for large RVs with electricity and water (and possibly sewer). Many sites have 15AMP electricity. It was going to be cold so we wanted to have electricity for an electric heater and our electric blanket. We ended up being one of only three RV campers in the entire campground so we had the pick of sites. We chose a site way in the back away from the others.

 The campground is normally closed after October but they have decided to keep the campground open all year. However, the bathroom/showers closest to the campground are shut down for the winter. (Call them to make sure that this is still the case if you go in the winter.)

Climate change has made our region very much dryer than it use to be just ten years ago. We get very little snow now, so all year camping makes total sense in our region now. The fee for our electric site was $30. There is a $5/person visitor fee that is included with the $30 camping fee.

You start your hike a short ways from the Welcome Center after you check in. The coordinates for the beginning of the hike is: 36.336300, -106.469175. You can park at this location. You can see a Google Map of the hike route HERE.

The hike is two miles long (one way) and climbs at least 600 feet. Here is the description from the Ghost Ranch Website:

Entrada Cliffs above the Dining Hall-The marked trail begins just past the chain across the road at Long House (see Box Canyon guide). The trail goes behind Kitchen Mesa before it ascends to the top. This more difficult hike includes a 15-foot chimney through a cleft in the cliff. The 3-4 hour trip climbs from 6,500 to 7,100 feet. (Round trip – 5 miles).

There is a short stretch of climbing at the "chimney," but it is not that bad and doesn't need ropes.

We went about five miles as we took a few side trips to see different edges of the mesa.

The views from the top of Kitchen Mesa are outstanding. We could see down to the main Ghost Ranch campus and farm area. We could see Abiquiu Reservoir and Cerro Pedernal (where O'Keeffe's ashes were spread). What a fun and scenic hike. We highly recommend it.

After our hike, we were pretty tired and decided to eat in the Dining Hall. Ghost Ranch provided all meals to their retreat guests and campers are welcome to pay $14 for a meal. (Breakfast is cheaper I believe.)  We enjoyed a salad and BBQ rib dinner with other sides. Dinner was pretty good.

The retreat guests and volunteers tend to be fairly religious. We sat next to a couple who told us about their volunteer activities. The couple from Ohio were at Ghost Ranch for a year as volunteers. They were unpaid but received free room and board. Their Ghost Ranch house was pretty nice. They were very friendly and we had a nice conversation. Karen's Dad and step-Mom are both retired ministers, so that was a topic of conversation as the gentleman was also a retired minister.

We were invited several times to come to a harp concert after dinner but we were very tired and headed to our camper van instead.

It was cold, but we plugged in our 1200 watt electric heater and got our van up to about 60 degrees. We turned down the heater to 800 watts and plugged in our electric blanket to heat up the bed. We slid into our bed and had a great nights sleep.

We headed home after a nice homemade oatmeal breakfast at our campsite. We could have had breakfast at the Dining Hall, but it was some sort of egg casserole, which didn't sound appealing to us.

We saw no ghosts on this visit. There was some cell phone connectivity at Ghost Ranch, but it was weak (verizon).

Here is a video of our hike:

Photos from our trip:

Our campsite.

Water was shut off for winter.

200 million years ago, New Mexico was part of the Pangaea super-continent and was tropical being near the equator.

Near the dinosaur quarry.

Hiking up the "chimney."

A view from the top of Kitchen Mesa.

Cerro Pedernal in the distance with Abiquiu Reservoir below.

The bare top of Kitchen Mesa. It sounded hollow when you tapped on this surface. Scary!!!

Karen and Cerro Pedernal.

Some other folks enjoying the mesa.

Karen coming down the Chimney.

Tree under the mesa wall.

Sunset at the end of the hike.

The Ghost Ranch Dining Hall.

The food at the Dining Hall - Buffet Style.


  1. We're currently discussing our spring/summer plans and I know New Mexico will be in there somewhere LOL. Thanks for sharing another NM gem!

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