Introducing Ocate Cliffs

Ocate Cliffs is an autistic-run retreat center in Northern New Mexico. It is a project of Divergent Labs, a non-profit.

Quick links: renting the site for retreats – or – retreat in July 2020 – or – all other options for visiting.

A bold, new employment model for autism and Asperger’s

Around 80% of autistic people are unemployed, compared to 5% of the general population. When the media talks about the autism “epidemic,” why aren’t they talking about this?

The scope of the problem is staggering, and something needs to change. The current solutions — like training programs that push autistic people into low-skill labor instead of encouraging them to pursue their potential — aren’t working.


“My name is Star Ford, and together with a group of other autistic people, I’m building an autistic workplace called Ocate Cliffs. Instead of a model that aims to integrate autistic people into the workplace by forcing us into behaviors that are unnatural for us, we’re building a workplace and community where autistic people can be themselves and use their strengths.”

We’re building a wilderness retreat in beautiful northern New Mexico that will be financially self-sufficient by offering retreats for groups of 20 to 60 in comfortable, environmentally sustainable lodges. And all of the staff will be autistic.

Read more about us and why we started Ocate Cliffs here.


It’s worth stressing that this is not just another “great idea” out there, but is steadily progressing. In the first few years we obtained the land – 139 acres – obtained county zoning approval for the project, completed a water system, built a 2-mile road, and built the first building – a staff house.

It is currently open, and can be rented out by groups such as churches, other non-profits, and family reunions. Larger groups will be accommodated in a few years when we get the first guest building completed.

We are located near Ocate, New Mexico in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. (See contacts and maps.)

Recent Photos

(Photos from retreats held 2015-2018, and other recent happenings)