A sudden storm raged through Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center around 7:00 p.m. July 7, 2015, resulting in a flash flood that caused over $500,000 in damages. There were no injuries or fatalities. Losses include the Box Canyon aqueduct, the arts and craft buildings of Pot Hollow, Short House, the Pole Barn, the equipment shed, the Low Ropes Course and the new Fiber Arts Studio.

Workshops scheduled in these areas have been relocated to other buildings on the Ghost Ranch campus. Aside from limited access to the Box Canyon hiking trail and closing part of the Matrimonial Mesa trail, Ghost Ranch is fully operational.

Executive Director Debra Hepler stated that even with the losses, she is grateful beyond words. “While the devastation and loss are extensive, we are blessed with wonderful guests, donors, friends and staff. We’ve received an outpouring of generous offers of financial assistance and help in our recovery from the destruction,” she said. About the future, Hepler said, “It may seem obvious but it needs to be said—we will not rebuild in the same area. But we will rebuild.”

The insurance policy carried by Ghost Ranch carries a $100,000 deductible. A flood recovery fund to cover that expense started the day after the flood. As of Tuesday, July 21, Ghost Ranch had received nearly $30,000 in donations.

Flash flooding at Ghost Ranch destroyed the workshop areas of Pot Hollow, Short House and the Pole Barn, where ceramics and welding course were held.

Flash flooding at Ghost Ranch destroyed the workshop areas of Pot Hollow, Short House and the Pole Barn, where ceramics and welding course were held. —Photo courtesy of Ghost Ranch

For aid and funding to rebuild, Ghost Ranch is working with the Risk Management staff at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the New Mexico Governor's Office, the Department of Homeland Security, the Rio Arriba County Emergency Management Office/Rural Events Center/Extension Office, the National Resource Conservation Service and Santa Clara Pueblo. Ghost Ranch has also engaged the help of the Presbyterian Disaster Services, American Red Cross, FEMA, the National Weather Service and Presbyterian Healthcare Services.

Donations may be mailed to Ghost Ranch,
280 Private Road #1708, Abiquiu NM 87510 or given on the Ghost Ranch website: www.ghostranch.org/support/donate-now.

Ghost Ranch is also seeking donations for its online auction that opens for bidding September 12. To contribute an item or service, please e-mail Ghost Ranch fund development manager Mary Martinez at marym@ghostranch.org.

Ghost Ranch is a 21,000-acre education and retreat center of the PC(USA) located 60 miles northwest of Santa Fe just beyond the small town of Abiquiu in northern New Mexico. Along with offering over 300 workshops a year, Ghost Ranch is home to The Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology and The Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology. Visitors to the Ranch enjoy hiking trails, horseback riding, a café and gift shop, a 24-hour library, conference and meeting space and overnight accommodations and camping. Ghost Ranch is renowned for the landscapes made famous by painter Georgia O’Keeffe.


Strong-bodied workers are needed at Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center in the next few weeks to assist with the clean-up of brush and debris in the area ravaged by a severe thunderstorm and flash flood July 7th that destroyed five ranch buildings and one two-mile trail. These clean up efforts will focus on less damaged areas, leaving more unstable and potentially dangerous clean-up work to professional crews. 

Adult Service Corps participants give 25 hours of service per week (about 5 hours a day) to Ghost Ranch in exchange for dorm-style or campground lodging and all lunches. Registration is $145, which includes a Service Corps T-shirt. The cost for all breakfasts and dinners for the week is $135.00.

To learn more and register, connect to this link on the Ghost Ranch website.