Gallup Travel Guide
A strange blend of Route 66 pop culture and Native American roots makes Gallup one of the most intriguing towns in New Mexico. Few other places in the American southwest evoke a sense of being ‘in the heart of Indian country’, and though tourists rarely pause longer than to fill their gas tank or grab a bowl of chili, this quirky historic town warrants a lot more exploration.
If it wasn’t for the massive Interstate 40 running through the middle of town, Gallup may have evolved into something more alluring. It has always been a transport hub, first for stagecoaches, then the railroad, and finally the highway. The downtown center has dozens of historic buildings which have been turned into trading posts, pawn shops and unpretentious cafes. It is here, wandering the flat, broad streets that you can best understand a town that appears to be down on its luck.
But the faded surface of Gallup doesn’t do justice to the amazing character that lies beneath. Located within the Navajo Reservation, Gallup is one of the best towns in which to experience Native American culture without actually going to the reservations. Wonderful Native American jewelry, arts and crafts can be found in the dusty shops, and many of the old buildings such as the Rex Hotel, El Morro Theater and Chief Theater still resonate with the vibrancy that once filled Gallup when it was a major stopover along the famous Route 66.
Santa Fe]] Railroad Depot: start your explorations at the old railroad depot, which now houses the Gallup Cultural Center, a small museum and a gift shop.
White Cafe: another of Gallup’s historic buildings is now the All Indian Tribes Center, providing an excellent insight into the cultures of the regional tribes.
Flea Market: every Saturday the locals come down to this flea market north of town to sell trash, treasures and delicious Indian Fry Bread.
Red Rock State Park: this natural red rock amphitheater hosts cultural events throughout the year to complement the historic museum, horseback riding and nature trails.
Red Rock Museum: located in the park, this informative museum tells the story of the indigenous Anasazi, Zuni, Hopi and Navajo cultures through exhibits and performances.
El Rancho Hotel: spend a night in the Ronald Reagan Room or simply eyeball the signed pictures of dozens of Hollywood stars in the lobby at this former celebrity hangout.
Route 66: drive along this historic stretch of highway and feel the wind in your hair as you pass by Gallup’s less than charming budget motels.