Deserts contain more than just sand dunes and cacti. Remarkable plant adaptations have resulted in a diverse array of habitats in the high desert of northern New Mexico. Silvery green grasses and shrubs carpet the red hills and dark evergreens punctuate the landscape surrounding Ghost Ranch. Mesas and buttes rise up from the desert floor; their crevices and nooks offering tenacious plants a home. Dark mountain vistas loom in the distance; their wetter slopes home to towering ponderosa pine. A visit to Ghost Ranch is an opportunity to explore and learn about the plants of the high desert.
After a difficult 3-day journey from the east coast, our anticipation grew as we wound our way through the Piedra Lumbre basin on Route 84. The setting sun illuminated the red cliffs that line the road leading to Ghost Ranch. A tease of what’s to come. Nestled at the mouth of a canyon, the sprawling ranch is set against a stunning backdrop of iron-rich cliffs and multi-colored mesas.
A wood gate adorned with the iconic skull marks the entrance to Ghost Ranch. A signal, among many others, that we’ve arrived.