If you’re anything like me, this whole government shutdown has got you… well, DOWN. Why? Because all the COOL things to do (as far as the National Parks Service is concerned, that is) are closed. Or they’re covered in trash, human feces, and a million other people like ourselves who are really just trying to see all the things while not having to pay an entrance fee.
And, if you’re anything like me, you’ve just GOTTA HIKE. You can’t stay indoors for a long time. You need to be outside, without hardly anyone else around except those few chosen special people. The city is a no-go. That’s walking, not hiking. The state parks aren’t as cool.
So what’s an outdoorsy person to do?
I present to you: Ghost Ranch. It’s about an hour northwest of Santa Fe. You get to hike, see a museum (with dinosaurs!), learn about Georgia O’Keefe, experience old adobe buildings, and so much more – for the price of $5 per adult, which you pay at the Welcome Center (mostly so you can use the bathrooms…). Yeah, it was TEN DOLLARS, and we spent all day looking at gorgeous scenery and learning about awesome things. And it’s dog friendly!
They have other activities that you have to pay more for, like horseback trail rides, a swimming pool, massages, and some other various things. I’ve never done any of them, so I can’t vouch for them, but if you’re only spending a day, there’s plenty to do without shelling out any extra money.
I actually have to admit…
…this wasn’t my first time at Ghost Ranch (which is actually the only reason I knew it even existed). I went there as an undergrad Geology major for spring break with a bunch of other rock nerds. We spent a week there because, not only is it an awesome place to spend the day, you can actually sleep there. Accommodations range from hotel-style rooms, hostel/dorm rooms, to campsites. Breakfast is included!
And let me just say, the night sky from Ghost Ranch is one of the best I’ve ever seen.
I know, I’m starting to sound like a Ghost Ranch ad. On the other hand, I can honestly say that this is one of New Mexico’s secret hideaways. Above all, they host a variety of retreats and workshops, and one day I’ll probably go to one- just for fun. Think you’ll be bored if you spend an entire week there? Think again!
There’s other stuff to do!
As if the ranch itself wasn’t enough, if you’re outdoorsy, there’s a million places to see within a reasonable driving distance from Ghost Ranch. A lot of them aren’t open now because of the shutdown, but once everything’s back up and running, take the time to visit! It’s a 3-second drive up the road to Echo Amphitheater, a naturally occurring echo chamber (amazing entertainment for families with kids).
If you’re willing to drive farther, there’s plenty more to New Mexico than at first glance! For example, Chaco Culture is about 2 hours away, which seems like a really far drive. It is completely worth it because of the amazing history, preservation of the city, and you can even hike there too! Los Alamos, the birthplace of the atomic bomb, has a lot of science-related activities and is about an hour away. Bandelier National Monument is right next door to Los Alamos, and is a great place for easy walks to see more amazing historic pueblos. And most importantly, Santa Fe is a great place to visit, especially the downtown area.
Have I convinced you to visit yet?
We didn’t get to spend very much time at Ghost Ranch or the surrounding area during this visit. Luckily, I’ve at least convinced the Husband to go back. When I visited before, it was my first time in New Mexico and the southwest US. He didn’t go with me and he, like me, had never been the southwest before, so when I came back excited, he couldn’t relate. After this trip, he definitely understands it! However, I’ve never been there during the summer, so I can only say that in winter and spring the weather is mild. This trip had perfect hiking weather about midday.
To sum it all up, if the shutdown blues are getting to you, take a trip and go hiking at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. You’ll have an amazing time exploring beautiful New Mexico, I promise.