Hiking in the land of O’Keeffe

Northern New Mexico’s stark landscapes are so stunning. It’s easy to see how a Midwestern girl named O’Keeffe fell in love with this place.

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Ever need a quiet day to yourself?  Yeah, me too.  Today was one of those days, so I called into work on a “mental health day,” and headed out to find a place to hike.

“God told me if I painted that mountain enough, I could have it.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe

I found myself driving through the landscapes of northern New Mexico, eventually stopping at Ghost Ranch, just outside of Abiquiu. The stark landscapes here are so stunning that a Midwestern girl could fall in love with the magic of the high deserts of New Mexico. That’s happened more than once. With me, of course, but also with a gal we’ve all come to know as one of the most prolific American artists of her time, Georgia O’Keeffe.

View from Box Canyon Trail

O’Keeffe, a Wisconsin girl, started visiting northern New Mexico in 1929 and found peace and inspiration here. (I get it, Georgia).  O’Keeffe’s history with this part of New Mexico is interwoven with the history of Ghost Ranch. The Ranch is now owned by the Presbyterian Church, but all are welcome to wander the grounds, to hike, to reflect, and even to buy a little something at the trading post.

Ghost Ranch is open daily from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM and is mostly quiet, depending on the event calendar (there are tours, guided trail hikes, art workshops, etc.).


Chimney Rock

I took on the Chimney Rock Trail today.  It’s a 3 mile round trip hike, but the trail does get steep in spots as you move from 6,500 feet to 7,100 feet. Great views all around, I set off up the trail, my quiet reflection interrupted only once by a pair of grumbling wives whose husbands had scampered quickly up the trail leaving them behind – struggling.  I suppose, I’d grumble too.  I find it’s best when hiking (if you’re not solo), to hike with a group that has similar hiking abilities.  I usually hike as part of a foursome.  We have similar abilities and goals when it comes to hiking and we have one very important rule: You can call for a rest (or a fat kid break as my somewhat out-of-shape self lovingly calls it) whenever you need it and no one else in the group will give you a hard time.  You know…sometimes you need a break to stop and breathe, to get a drink of water, or to put your head down and reflect upon why you thought you could hike this trail/distance/elevation/whatever.  When you’re ready, the group moves forward until the next hiker calls for a break. The wives on that trail needed my foursome today, but I digress.

Walkers and hikers of all abilities can find a trail at Ghost Ranch.  There’s quite a range: short and flat, long and flat, short and steep, and long and steep.  You get the idea.  The Ranch itself also has some interesting historic buildings, a yurt (a yurt!), and several other quiet spots where you can sit and enjoy the scenery if you’re not a hiker.

If you’ve got time, head down the road and check out the quirky little town of Abiquiu itself.  Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio are adjacent to the Abiquiu Inn (a fabulous place to stay!) and can be toured. You can check it out here: O’Keeffe Museum




Author: missheatherlynnp

Heather Pillman is a frequent traveler and a sometimes freelance writer, who wanted a forum to write about her travels and humorous misadventures. After encouragement from friends, she took the leap and started a blog about her travels. An avid hiker, nature lover and photographer, Heather is always looking for her next travel adventure. She believes fantastic travel is happening everywhere and loves to explore the sites in her own backyard and abroad.

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