Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Gallup, NM

  • Published 2022/11/23

Gallup in New Mexico is a small city on the famous Route 66 and has been around since 1881.

As a city in New Mexico, Gallup is known for featuring Native American history and culture.

Due to this, the city holds the title “Heart of Indian Country” or “The Heart of Indians.”

Aside from this, Gallup is also known for previously being a railhead for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad and gained its name from the original railroad’s paymaster, David Gallup.

More than featuring a vast history, the city offers a good share of activities to try.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the 20 best things to do in Gallup, New Mexico:

Camp at Red Rock Park

Hot air balloons at Red Rock Park

Tim Pleasant /

There are several gorgeous natural sights and fun activities you can find in Gallup, and some of them are in Red Rock Park.

Red Rock Park is a park with numerous sights and facilities for you to check out.

For those interested in exploring the area, two trails lead to different natural sights for you to admire and span for 2-3 miles.

In addition to hiking trails, the park holds two campsites with different amenities, including picnic areas.

Colorful hot air balloons at Red Rock Park

Tim Pleasant /

If these are not enough, the park also holds a rodeo area where various events and performances occur.

Aside from offering sights and facilities to enjoy outdoor activities, Red Park also holds a museum featuring various Native American artifacts.

There are two ways to visit this park, but you will mainly want to look around the Churchrock area.

For further information on park events and facilities, you’ll need to contact the staff via their contact number.

Red Rock Park's churchrock

inkknife_2000 (7.5 million views +), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Have a Look around the Gallup Cultural Center

The Gallup Cultural Center is one of the many places you can explore local culture and offers various displays to peruse.

The museum has been around since 1996 and is under the management of the Southwest Indian Foundation.

You can find this museum around the East Highway area at the historic Santa Fe Depot.

When exploring this venue, you can find exhibits featuring various crafts and local history.

Some of the crafts you can see include weaving, sandpainting, and silversmithing.

As for the historical displays, you can see information on the local trains, coal mining, and more.

More than featuring various exhibits on local history and culture, the museum also has a cafe and skate shop.

To see the museum, you’ll need to head downtown area of the city around East Highway.

Experience the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

Dancers during Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

Joseph Sohm /

One of the most prominent events you need to check out in Gallup is the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial.

The Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial is one of the oldest celebrations in the nation that showcases Native American arts and culture.

A person riding a horse during Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

Joseph Sohm /

Every August, native tribes from all over the country gather in Gallup for the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial to celebrate tradition, arts, and more.

When checking out this celebration, you can find markets opened and featuring various art pieces and handcrafted items displayed.

Miss Gallup winner during Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

Pixel Doc /

More than this, you can view traditional dances, pageants, and rodeos by heading for Red Rock Park.

Out of all the events you can see in Gallup, the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial is a top must-see celebration.

Dancers during Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

Joseph Sohm /

Stop by the Bill Malone Trading Company

While Gallup is known to feature a fair share of sights to explore, it also features a selection of trading companies to check out.

One of the top trading companies you can check out in Gallup is the Bill Malone Trading Company.

As a business running for more than 40 years, you can find a selection of historical pieces and crafts in this store.

A few items you can find in the trading company include retail pieces, jewelry, and pottery.

If you’re lucky, you have a chance to see the owner’s wife, Minnie, weaving something.

You can find the store within West Coal Avenue or check out updates via their social media page.

Browse the Wares at Perry Null Trading

Among the different trading companies available in Gallup, Perry Null Trading is one of the best places to visit for art crafts and jewelry pieces.

As a business running a tradition dating back to 1939, the trading company features various collections from different people.

Some of the handcrafted pieces you can find at this trading company include baskets, pottery, stone pieces, and other unique Native American works.

When it comes to jewelry, you can find several accessories plus some unique pins and bolos for you to try.

If you want to visit this trading company, head over to South 2nd Street, and you should find the shop via its mural out front.

Immerse in Local History at the Rex Museum

Exterior of Rex Museum

TLF Images /

Discover even more local history by making a stop at the Rex Museum.

Before becoming a museum, the building went through two transformations.

Initially, the museum started as a brothel then transformed into a grocery store before becoming a museum.

Name sign of Rex Museum

Anne Richard /

You can find this museum by heading to the intersection of Route 66 and Third Street.

A few of the displays you can find at this museum are photographs, documents, and other artifacts relating to Gallup’s mining and railroad period.

For anyone a fan of history, this is a prime spot to visit when visiting the city.

Catch a Ride with X-Treme-Lee Fun Balloon Adventures

You can plenty of views in Gallup, and some of the best ones you can find are with X-Treme-Lee Fun Balloon Adventures.

At X-Treme-Lee Fun Balloon Adventures, you get a chance to see Gallup through a bird’s eye view and see some gorgeous natural scenery at a different angle.

When booking a flight with this hot balloon service, you can also get hands-on experience helping the crew with the balloon.

As an additional bonus, you can enjoy a drink following your flight.

All flights take up to one and a half hours and start at sunrise.

Aside from providing commercial rides, X-Treme-Lee Fun Balloon Adventures also offers promotional services for businesses.

You can find this hot air balloon service at Kit Carson Drive and make your reservation via contacting the staff’s phone number.

Go Riding at the Gallup Off-Highway Vehicle Park

If you’re looking to enjoy fun activities in Gallup, you need to check out the Gallup Off-Highway Vehicle Park.

At the Gallup Off-Highway Vehicle Park, you can find a 1.2-mile track and 10 miles of ATV trails.

The park spans 300 acres in size and is under the management of the Red Rock Motorsports Club.

Unfortunately, the trails are only open to club members.

If you are interested in trying out the park, you can contact the club staff via their phone number and find the park at Hasler Valley Road.

Skate around at the Skate Connection

Among the different activities you can try in Gallup, rollerskating is one.

The best place to go rollerskating in the city is the Skate Connection.

The Skate Connection is a skating ring you can find at Dee Ann Avenue and is open on Fridays and weekends.

It may not be the most prominent place to visit compared to other locations, but it is a prime spot for some easygoing fun.

If you’d like to check out any announcements or updates, you can check out the skating rink’s social media page.

Try Weaving with Weaving in Beauty

Experience something new by joining a class with Weaving in Beauty.

Weaving in Beauty is a textile store that provides textile products and care services.

For anyone interested in textiles, Weaving in Beauty offers various classes for different learners.

As one of the unique businesses available in Gallup that offers Navajo-style items, there is plenty to admire when visiting Weaving in Beauty.

You can find Weaving in Beauty on West Coal Avenue and peruse the various fiber art items they offer.

You can also check out their classes online or purchase from their online store.

Either way, there is plenty of textile options to enjoy with Weaving in Beauty.

Enjoy a Stay at Hotel El Rancho

Exterior of Hotel El Rancho

melissamn /

Hotel El Rancho is a hotel you can find at East Highway 66 and is known as one of the more historical venues in Gallup.

The hotel has been running for over 50 years now and features several facilities for you to enjoy.

The building first opened in 1937 and was known as a setting for different films.

Sign of Hotel El Rancho

Picturesque Japan /

Currently, the hotel is known for its rustic design and features different Native American craft pieces on display.

When booking a stay at this hotel, there are different facilities you can enjoy.

Interior of Hotel El Rancho

Anthony Greco, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the facilities you can find at this hotel include a pool and a bar called The 46Er Lounge.

As for the Native American pieces displayed in the hotel, they include silver crafts and inlaid paintings.

By renting a room at Hotel El Rancho, you get a chance to enjoy a combination of history and relaxation.

Entrance of Hotel El Rancho

melissamn /

Learn Yoga or Dances at the Bright Life Arts Studio

Get even more learning experiences in Gallup by visiting the Bright Life Arts Studio.

You can find the Bright Life Arts Studio at East Coal Avenue and all class announcements and updates on their website and social media page.

At this studio, you have the chance to learn different dances such as belly dancing or join in on yoga sessions.

While it might be one of the more laidback places you can check out in Gallup, it can still make for a fun experience to remember the city by.

Find Unique Items at the Gallup 9th Street Flea Market

You can find plenty of places that feature local crafts and products to enjoy, but if you want to find various local items in one place, you need to check out the Gallup 9th Street Flea Market.

The Gallup 9th Street Flea Market has been around for over 25 years now and is known as one of the largest Native American markets in the United States.

When visiting this market, you can find hundreds of vendors featuring several items ranging from food to jewelry and even livestock.

If you’re interested in the eats you can discover at this market, they include Navajo and Mexican treats and drinks, to name a few.

If you want to find the market, you need to head north of the city and move one block east of Highway 491.

Traverse The Trail of the Ancients

Gallup offers many ways to view nature and history, and one of them is with The Trail of the Ancients.

The Trail of the Ancients is one of the prominently known ways to see the various landscapes in the Four Corners region.

When traversing this trail, you’ll find that the rock formation known as the Shiprock provides a focal point.

As a trail that’s been around since the 1500s, you can find names of previous trail travelers carved into the sandstone walls of El Morro.

There is no shortage of rock formations you can find in The Trail of the Ancients.

You’re sure to find memorable scenery when traveling this trail.

Make Time to Watch the Summer Nightly Indian Dances

Gallup holds plenty of events and celebrations throughout the year, and one of the events you need to check out is the Summer Nightly Indian Dances.

The Summer Nightly Indian Dances is a series of performances done by area tribes and features several traditional instruments.

You can see the traditional dances performed at the McKinley Courthouse Plaza from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

The dance event usually occurs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the summer.

Along with the performances, you can see different vendors featuring authentic Native crafts and food.

You are also free to take photos of the dances to commemorate the experience.

Watch Hot Air Balloons Take Flight at the Balloon Rally

Colorful hot air balloons at Balloon Rally

Pixel Doc /

Gallup’s Balloon Rally is one of the largest balloon rallies in North America and the second-largest in the country.

Held during the first weekend of December, you’ll get to watch the colorful hot air balloons rise against the sandstone canyons and bluffs.

This annual free event started in 1981 and has currently garnered over 200 hot air balloon enthusiasts from all over the world.

Hot air balloon ready to take-off at Balloon Rally

Pixel Doc /

You can hike around Red Rock Park to find the perfect spot to view the balloons fly in all shapes and colors; you can even request to be part of the balloon crew.

There’s also food to enjoy from local vendors during the festivities and Native American art pieces you can purchase.

Warm up at the bonfire and watch social dance performances by Native Americans at the Balloon Rally.

People on a hot air balloon during Balloon Rally

Pixel Doc /

Scale the Heights at Mentmore Rock Climbing Area

The Mentmore Rock Climbing Area situated on Mentmore Road was discovered in 1997.

The area was opened through the collaboration of climbers and outdoor aficionados in the area with the family owning the property.

Cliffs are composed of Cretaceous Gallup Sandstone secured with an elevated shelf.

The climbing area has a total of 100 routes, most of which are 40′ to 50′ tall.

You can choose from several sports and traditional routes to climb; there are over 50 top rope climbs with bolts and 31 sports climbs with heights ranging from 25 to 45 feet.

Difficulty levels of these climbs range vary from 5.0 to 5.13.

Have a great adventure climb at Mentmore Rock Climbing Area.

Catch Action-Packed Rodeo Events

Calf-roping competition at Gallup

Kobby Dagan /

The city holds several exciting rodeo events you can catch from June to August which include bull riding events to roping and open show rodeos.

Watch for free and have fun with the USTRC Signature Series at Red Rock Classic USTRC Team Roping.

Catch the historic Gallup Lions Club Youth and Open Show Rodeo for two nights which include rough stock and timed events, along with wooly and steer riding events.

The Best of the Best Rodeo hosts junior and high school rodeo athletes competing for prizes; you’ll enjoy watching events like barrel racing, breakaway roping, pole bending, steer wrestling, and more.

Participants at a roping competition at Gallup

Joseph Sohm /

You’ll get to see the Route 66 Showdown NTR Team Roping happening right after the Best of the Best Rodeo.

Every July, Wildthing Championship Bullriding is held at Red Rock Park and you’ll witness the best bucking bulls plus the huge fireworks and plenty of concessions at the event.

Go and see the Turquoise NTR Team Roping Event while enjoying the beauty of red rocks.

Enjoy all the action and fun at Gallup Rodeo Events.

Bull-riding at Gallup

Kobby Dagan /

Hike the Trails at Red Rock Park’s Pyramid Trail and Church Rock Trail

Scenic view along Church Rock Trail

Pixel Doc /

Whether you’re a novice or an expert hiker, you’ll love a scenic hike at Red Rock Park’s Pyramid Trail and Church Rock Trail.

You’ll get plenty of stunning views from both trailheads even before reaching the summit.

The Pyramid Trail runs three miles on a full loop from the trailhead; from the Pyramid’s peak, you’ll see a glimpse of Gallup and Fort Wingate’s old bunkers.

Rock formations along Church Rock Trail

NayaDadara /

On the other hand, the Church Rock Trail offers two miles of hiking area leading to several sandstone spires where the trail was named.

Enjoy hiking and seeing the sights at Pyramid Trail and Church Rock Trail.

Stone steps at Church Rock Trail

NayaDadara /

Enjoy Classic American Food at The 505 Burgers & Wings

For some classic delicious American fare, 505 Burgers & Wings is the place to satisfy your cravings.

Enjoy fresh and flavorful burger varieties served on pretzel buns; you can also choose from over 15 topping combinations.

Try their tasty chicken sandwiches placed on toasted ciabatta rolls and have some homemade fries with either red or chili, or brown gravy poured on top.

Their delicious beef hot dogs are a must-try and their jumbo wings are always a big hit on the menu.

The 505 Burgers & Wings also offers gluten-free recipes and vegetarian options if you prefer something healthy and nutritious.

Final Thoughts

Gallup is an ideal city to visit for anyone interested in exploring a new culture and history.

Whether it’s checking out museums or learning local crafts, there is plenty for you to discover in this city.

More than checking out local sights and attractions, there is plenty of hidden gems you can explore in this city.

Consider Gallup as your next destination for discovering something new.

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