20 Best Things to Do in Gallup, NM

20 Best Things to Do in Gallup, NM
Jacob Boomsma / shutterstock.com

Tucked away in the heart of the Southwest, Gallup offers a unique blend of adventure, history, and cultural experiences that you simply won’t find elsewhere.

Whether you’re a fan of outdoor activities, a history buff, or a cultural explorer, Gallup has hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.

Join me as we embark on a personal insider’s tour of the best things to do in Gallup, New Mexico.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: William Vang, Patricia McClellan, Cedric Jones, Jolene Weist, Stewart Hise, Fernando Diaz and Sandy Lee.

Walk through History at El Rancho Hotel

Exterior view of the El Rancho Hotel
melissamn / Shutterstock.com

Sitting at the bar, sipping a drink, you can easily forget you're in the 21st century.

That's the charm of El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico.

Every room, every corner of this hotel, tells a tale of the golden era of Hollywood.

Yes, Hollywood stars who once walked these halls stayed in these rooms, and their legacy still lingers.

The moment you step into the hotel, you're greeted by super friendly staff and an ambiance that transports you back in time.

The lobby is a treasure trove of antique memorabilia, with pictures of silver screen legends adorning the walls.

Each room is christened after these stars and comes with a card that details their fame.

And no, don't expect modern amenities like refrigerators or microwaves.

El Rancho Hotel is more about preserving the past than catering to today's conveniences.

Cozy interior of the El Rancho Hotel
Logan Bush / Shutterstock.com

The rooms are cozy, each one uniquely designed to give you a taste of the classic Hollywood era.

But heads up for those who have a sensitive nose - the hotel is more preserved than renovated, so you might encounter a bit of dust or mildew.

But that's a small price to pay for the chance to experience a piece of history.

And don't forget to check out the hotel store.

The beautiful jewelry they have in store is a sight to behold.

Trust me, it's worth a visit.

And the best part is the hotel ensures high security.

So you can enjoy your time without any worry.

But the true gem of the El Rancho Hotel is its restaurant and bar.

The ambiance, the food, the drinks, everything is just perfect.

It's like being in a classic Western film, where you expect a cowboy to walk in any moment.

Interior view of the El Rancho Hotel
Logan Bush / Shutterstock.com

Join a Dance Class at Bright Life Arts Studio

There's a little gem nestled in our city that I stumbled upon a few months ago: the Bright Life Arts Studio.

The studio has soon become my haven of serenity and joy.

As soon as you step inside, you'll feel an instant warmth and welcoming atmosphere that envelops you.

The studio is quaint but wonderfully homey.

One of the best parts about this studio is the sense of community it fosters.

Every visit feels like a reunion with friends and the atmosphere is filled with laughter, cheer, and the camaraderie of shared experiences.

Belly dancing and yoga classes at Bright Life Arts Studio are more than just a workout, they are a celebration of community, friendship, and personal growth.

They also have an incredibly patient teacher, especially for beginners.

Discover Treasures at Bill Malone Trading

Every now and then, I find myself wandering into Bill Malone Trading, right here in Gallup.

Now, let me tell you, this isn't just any trading post.

It has a friendly atmosphere that always makes my visits a special treat.

You can't help but be drawn to the vast collection of items in his store.

I've found myself lost in the beautiful array of Navaho weavings, each piece a testament to the rich history and intricate craftsmanship of the Navajo people.

On one of my visits, I fell in love with a handwoven rug and a painting, both of which now have a special place in my home.

Each time I pop into Bill Malone Trading, it feels like a treasure hunt.

You never know what unique pieces you'll stumble upon.

See the Region from a Different Perspective with X-Treme-Lee Fun Balloon Adventures

I've lived here my whole life, and it's fair to say I've seen the Red Rock scenery from just about every possible angle.

Or so I thought until I got the chance to experience our stunning landscapes from a hot air balloon.

I found out about X-Treme-Lee Fun Balloon Adventures from a friend and decided to give it a go.

The day of the ride, I was bubbling with anticipation.

The staff were fantastic right from the beginning, doing an incredible job of sharing their knowledge about ballooning history while ensuring a safety-conscious environment.

Their passion for ballooning was contagious, and I could tell they loved sharing that joy with others.

Our pilot was equally impressive, pointing out landmarks and sharing tales of the area's history as we floated up in the sky.

The view was like nothing I've ever seen before, transforming my everyday surroundings into a breathtaking panorama.

X-Treme-Lee Fun Balloon Adventures shows an admirable level of professionalism and attention to detail.

It was nice to see how they paid attention to even the small comforts, like having a door for entering the balloon basket.

It's these little things that reinforce the feeling of a well-thought-out, high-quality experience.

I also had a chance to attend a balloon festival in Cortez, and it was nothing short of magical.

The spectacle of colorful balloons filling the sky, the exhilarating rides, and the enthusiasm of the people behind X-Treme-Lee Fun made the event an unforgettable affair.

Unleash Your Creativity at Weaving in Beauty

You wouldn't think that a place like Weaving in Beauty could exist in our little town, but oh, does it ever!

One visit and it's easy to see why it's become a cherished spot for locals and visitors alike.

The yarns they carry are nothing short of exquisite.

Every spool is hand-dyed, creating a vibrant cascade of colors that fills the shop, making it feel more like a treasure chest than a store.

As a passionate knitter, this place is no less than a paradise for me.

But it's not just the impressive selection of yarns that sets Weaving in Beauty apart.

What really makes it special is the genuine, heartfelt service that they provide.

I remember one instance when I was struggling to find the right yarn for a project.

Seeing my confusion, they didn't hesitate to step in and lend a helping hand, guiding me through their selection until I found the perfect match.

Their knowledge about weaving and knitting is truly inspiring.

But there's more to Weaving in Beauty than just yarns and supplies.

They also offer classes.

I took one of them, and it was such a rewarding experience.

The class was engaging, and I learned a lot, all thanks to the expertise of the instructors.

Each time I walk out of Weaving in Beauty, I always carry with me a new skill, a beautiful yarn, or a heartwarming memory.

Ah, the Nugget Gallery!

Let me tell you about this gem nestled in the heart of Gallup, New Mexico, on Second Street.

It's more than just a shop; it's a treasure trove of Native American arts.

From mesmerizing turquoise jewelry to intricately designed pottery, from handwoven baskets to exquisite rugs and sculptures, every item in the shop tells a story.

The best part?

Each piece is directly from the artists themselves, making the pricing remarkably affordable.

Trust me, you won't find deals like these anywhere else.

Don't worry if you're not in Gallup.

They have a seamless online shopping experience through their website Nugget Gallery and even on Instagram.

I’ve personally enjoyed browsing their collection from the comfort of my home and look forward to my next purchase.

Oh, and a friendly tip: When you walk into the shop, remember to look up! Treasures are everywhere.

Take Home a Keepsake from Chief Yellowhorse Trading Post

I've lived just a stone's throw away from this place my whole life, and it never gets old.

The Chief Yellowhorse Trading Post is one of those spots that is steeped in rich tradition and offers a glimpse into the life of Chief Yellowhorse.

The property is free to enter, and you're more than welcome to snap some pictures within the fenced section of the yard.

When you step into the shop, you're actually stepping into Chief Yellow Horse’s old residence.

What makes it even more special?

The proprietor of the shop is a direct descendant of the Chief himself.

Every piece of jewelry and every artifact has a story to tell.

I remember the day I bought a pair of beautiful earrings handcrafted by the family themselves.

It wasn't just a purchase, it was like owning a piece of history.

A place like the Chief Yellowhorse Trading Post is where you can really sense the pride and love the family has for their heritage.

It's far better to take home a keepsake from here than to steal petrified wood from the national park.

It's not only ethical but also supports local businesses.

The gift shop is another must-visit.

It's charming and filled with neat history.

Yes, it's a short stop, but it's definitely worth your time.

I guarantee you'll find plenty of photo opportunities.

Plus, there's an added bonus - you can check out the state line inside the gift shop!

The charm of smaller tourist stops like this is no less than the larger ones.

Glimpse into the Heartbeat of the Native American Culture at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

Women enjoying her time at Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial
Pixel Doc / Shutterstock.com

Every year, my heart swells with pride and anticipation for the upcoming Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial.

This event, held in my hometown, is more than just a festival; it's a vibrant display of our Native American heritage and a unique showcase of art, music, and history.

This time around, I had the privilege to witness the mesmerizing fireworks display that lit up the Saturday night sky, a spectacle that left me and all the onlookers spellbound.

I remember standing, awestruck, as the night sky burst into a radiant dance of colors, reflecting the diversity and spirit of the tribes involved in the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial.

Performance at Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial
Pixel Doc / Shutterstock.com

Another highlight was the opportunity to see the revered Navajo code talkers during the morning parade.

It was a poignant moment, one that reminded me of the rich history and significant contributions of our Native American heroes.

The parade, which marred through downtown, was a delightful sight, representing various tribes in their traditional attire and ceremonial regalia.

Just a short walk from the parade, the Red Rock Park was bustling with performances, art exhibits, and vendors.

I found myself wandering through the vibrant stalls, each one a treasure trove of native crafts, jewelry, and food.

It was there I stumbled upon a stunning piece of art that caught my eye.

The artist’s depiction of tribal life was so vivid and captivating that I couldn’t resist buying it.

And the best part?

The price was incredibly reasonable!

Parade at Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial
Pixel Doc / Shutterstock.com

Peruse the Handicrafts at Perry Null Trading

Every town has its hidden gems, and in my case, it's Perry Null Trading.

This shop breathes life into the phrase, "Not all that glitters is gold."

In fact, at Perry Null Trading, most of what glitters are actually carefully crafted silver and turquoise jewelry.

A long-standing symbol of our local culture, the store also hosts an array of traditional Native American handicrafts.

Upon stepping into Perry Null Trading, you're instantly greeted by an enormous collection of diverse styles.

There's something for everyone, whether you're drawn to the more popular, trendy jewelry or have an appreciation for the pieces crafted by renowned silversmiths.

Their assortment is awe-inspiring - from jewelry to pottery, rugs, clothing, and even purses.

One could easily spend hours getting lost among the richly crafted goods.

What I particularly love is how each item is carefully labeled with the artist's name - it adds a personal touch that connects you with the creator of your chosen piece.

But this place isn't just about the merchandise, it's about the people.

The staff at Perry Null Trading is friendly and knowledgeable.

I remember my first interaction with Becky - she taught me so much about the different types of turquoise and stones and even about the tribes that crafted each piece.

It was an enlightening experience that made me feel even more connected to the local culture.

Catch an Event at the Veterans Memorial Pillars

When the heat of the summer day finally cools down, and the stars begin to twinkle in the clear New Mexico sky, that's when the Veterans Memorial Pillars truly come alive.

You see, the memorial isn’t just a tribute to our heroic servicemen and women, it also serves as a cultural hub for the local community.

I often find myself strolling around the memorial during the evening.

The rhythmic sound of the drum echoing through the night air is a familiar music to my ears, played by local musicians who gather here for night dances.

It's an enlivening experience, and I often find myself lost in the rhythm while I take in the displays honoring our military families.

In the summer, the memorial hosts spectacular Native American dances that are a sight to behold.

It’s a fantastic tribute to our cultural heritage, a beautiful blend of past and present.

These performances always leave me in awe, a testament to the talent and dedication of our people.

Day or night, the Veterans Memorial Pillars is always a place of respect and remembrance.

Grab a Bite at The 505 Burgers & Wings

When it comes to finding a spot that can satisfy my burger cravings, no place does it better than The 505 Burgers & Wings.

I've been living in Gallup for quite some time, and this place has become my food sanctuary.

The burgers are always good, the kind of goodness that comes with a juicy patty and a soft pretzel bun that perfectly complements it.

The variety here is simply astounding, and the hearty portions never disappoint.

I've had my fair share of meals from eateries downtown and along Route 66, but nothing beats the experience I get at The 505 Burgers & Wings.

It's not just any fast food burger, it’s a meal that leaves a lasting impression.

The fries too, oh, the fries!

They're always crisp, warm, and delicious.

And the wings, I wish I had a bigger appetite to enjoy more of them.

They're fantastic, not as crispy as I would like, but they're right up there with the famous buffalo wings from Buffalo, New York, and that's saying something.

It's not just the food that keeps me going back.

The staff, even though sometimes they are low, are always diligent, polite, and friendly.

It's one of those places where you feel welcomed the moment you walk in.

Discover Local History at the Gallup Cultural Center

One of my favorite places to visit in my hometown, the Gallup Cultural Center, is a hidden gem that has so much to offer.

Nestled in the historic El Navaho Hotel and Santa Fe Railway Station, it's a place where the past meets the present.

The place still serves as an active Amtrak station, adding a unique charm that's hard to miss.

My usual routine includes a visit to the museum upstairs.

It's always enlightening to delve deeper into the history of the Gallup region and the Navajo culture.

There's no entry fee, but I make sure to contribute a donation to aid in its maintenance.

Every visit here is a learning journey, and I find something new each time I explore the rich exhibits.

After the museum, I usually head downstairs to Angela's Cafe.

It's a quaint little spot perfect for grabbing a sandwich for lunch.

I love their food, and the ambiance just adds to the whole experience.

Being part of the community, I take great pride in the Gallup Cultural Center for the awareness it brings to our Navajo culture.

On special evenings, the center becomes a hub of entertainment.

I remember being completely mesmerized by the performance of the Zuni Dance group.

Their incredible performance was a testament to the vibrant cultural heritage of our region.

Skate to the Rhythm at Skate Connection

Imagine sliding and gliding under the disco lights as the rhythm of classic rock music fills the air, that's what an average Friday night looks like at Skate Connection.

It's a place that's maintained its old-school charm since the 80s and still continues to be the heart of skating culture in Gallup.

It's not just child's play, adults enjoy it just as much, there's something about strapping on those in-line or traditional quad skates that brings out the kid in you.

The staff is more than welcoming and even accepts song requests.

The newcomers from Dallas always seem to appreciate this unique blend of nostalgia and fun.

The cost is quite reasonable, too, especially when you look at it from my perspective, just $10 gets me three hours of uninhibited fun on a Friday night, and the skates are included!

And if you're someone like me, who likes skating more often, they do offer a three-day wristband for $25.

Now let's talk about the amenities. they've got lockers, so you don't have to worry about your belongings while you're enjoying your time on the rink.

And the snack bar has all the usual suspects – soda, water, Powerade, pizza, nachos, and candy.

I heard about Skate Connection from a friend who was moving out of town.

He wished he'd discovered it sooner.

And I'm just glad I've known about it and been a regular for the longest time.

And yes, better late than never!

Explore the Treasures of Gallup Flea Market

Oh, the charm and the chatter of the Gallup Flea Market, it's an experience like no other!

The market is one of my favorite places to spend a free Saturday.

Packed with friendly vendors and bustling with life, each visit feels like an adventure.

You never know what unique treasures you might find.

The intricate native jewelry and handmade crafts are not only beautiful but tell a story of our rich local culture, making them perfect for gifting or adding a touch of authenticity to your home decor.

The market is also a food lover's paradise.

The aroma of the delicious food being cooked fills the air, making it impossible to resist.

From traditional local dishes to refreshing drinks, there's something to satiate every palate.

While the market has adapted to the digital age, with some vendors accepting cards and even digital wallets like Venmo, I like to stick to the old-school charm of using cash.

It's also handy for those impromptu negotiations, a fun part of the flea market experience.

Oh, and don't forget to bring an umbrella on sunny days, it can get quite hot!

As for the organization and cleanliness, it is remarkable.

The walkways are always clean, and the vendors maintain their stalls in an orderly fashion.

The overall friendliness and vibrancy of Gallup Flea Market have always brought me back, time and time again.

Walk down Memory Lane at The Rex Museum

Signage of the Rex Museum
TLF Images / Shutterstock.com

The aroma of history lingers in the air as you step into the Rex Museum, a hidden gem situated right in the heart of Gallup.

This quaint museum, nestled in an old brothel, is a treasure trove of relics, photographs, and tales from our town's history.

It's a place where the past comes alive, whispering stories of days gone by in the silence of its exhibits.

The museum, run by dedicated locals, is like a vibrant canvas that paints a rich tapestry of our local heritage and culture.

But what makes the Rex Museum truly special is its unique location.

The building itself has a story to tell, bearing witness to significant events throughout its existence.

Entrance to the Rex Museum
MRobison, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For generations, the building was home to Tom's Variety & Hobby Supply, a local icon that served as a beacon for model airplane enthusiasts and the landlord of the Gallup Model Airplane Club.

When you visit the Rex Museum, the friendly staff welcomes you with open arms, eager to share their knowledge and answer your queries.

Through the museum exhibits, you can catch a glimpse of our town's past and pore over rare historical artifacts that are usually hard to come by.

In a world where we're often rushing toward the future, the Rex Museum gives us a chance to pause, reflect, and appreciate the journey our town has undertaken.

Walk Your Fido at the City of Gallup Dog Park

Every morning, my two fur bundles and I visit a hidden gem of our city, the City of Gallup Dog Park.

I'm always surprised to find the park so quiet, but it just means my dogs get the vast open space to themselves.

The City of Gallup Dog Park is an enormous paradise for our four-legged friends.

It's dotted with picnic tables where I enjoy my morning coffee, and mature trees provide ample shade on sunnier days.

The city thoughtfully provides clean-up bags and trash cans, so it's always easy to keep the space clean and tidy.

Just a heads-up, if you plan to visit, don't forget to carry your own water.


That's never a problem.

The city has ensured there's plenty of it, so I never have to worry about finding a spot.

My furry companions, who were once rescues, absolutely adore the park.

From the moment their paws touch the ground, they're off exploring the terrain.

The park is divided into sections for small and large dogs, which I think is a wonderful idea.

So, no matter how big or petite your canine buddy is, there's a place for them here.

Once, we visited after a snowfall—a rare sight in our part of New Mexico—and the park was even more beautiful.

It was a winter wonderland for my pups to enjoy.

Every time we visit, I notice a few locals utilizing the gazebos and sitting areas, clearly appreciating this well-loved space in our community.

Learn a Story of Heroism at Navajo Code Talkers Museum

Honestly, I've been living here for years, but nothing quite compares to the poignancy of visiting the Navajo Code Talkers Museum.

Every time I pass the statues out front, I'm washed over with a deep sense of appreciation for the sacrifices these heroes made.

I remember the first time I walked through those doors.

The displays, the artifacts, the stories—it was a truly moving experience.

I would always suggest the  Navajo Code Talkers Museum to visiting friends and family.

You won't regret the sense of pride and appreciation that fills you up.

And don't forget to say a silent thank you for the service of Navajo Code Talkers.

Take Snaps at the Route 66 Loop Statue

Living here in Gallup, New Mexico, there's a unique mix of traditional and contemporary art that has come to define our small town.

One of the most distinct and quirky pieces that always catches the eye of both locals and visitors alike is the Route 66 Loop Statue.

Perched elegantly on the side of Route 66, this whimsical piece of art is unmissable.

The Loop statue has been aptly nicknamed 'Galoop,' which fuses the name of our town, Gallup, with the word 'loop.'

A clever nod to its physical characteristics and geographical location.

Crafted entirely out of metal, the Galoop stands tall and mighty.

It's hard not to reminisce about childhood fantasies of Hot Wheels race tracks as you gaze upon its circular structure.

This isn't just a metal loop, it's a loop that encaptures the spirit of Route 66, the essence of our lively town, and the nostalgia of countless journeys made on this iconic highway.

Adding to its charm, the statue is also conveniently visible from the westbound side of i40.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Hike the  Red Rock Park

Trail along the Red Rock Park
NayaDadara / Shutterstock.com

Whenever I need a break from routine, I find myself drawn towards the natural beauty of Red Rock Park.

The signature red cliffs of this park create an enchanting landscape that never fails to ignite a sense of calm in me.

The experience starts with the breathtaking Red Rock Arena, which is a visual treat in itself.

But the magic does not end there.

The park offers camping facilities with a spectacular view of the cliffs.

Over the years, I have seen the maintenance of the campground decline.

Picnic tables buried in inches of sand, overgrown weeds, and litter scattered around are sadly becoming a more frequent sight.

The campsites could use clearer markings and better care in terms of cleanliness and maintenance.

Despite these drawbacks, the spirit of adventure never dies here.

Hot air balloon at Red Rock Park
Tim Pleasant / Shutterstock.com

Once, I saw a group of nomadic trailers parked there.

It was intriguing to watch them adapt to the minimal facilities, making do without proper sewer hookups and sharing the limited electric outlets.

What a test of survival instincts!

Walking around Red Rock Park, I have often crossed paths with the occasional loose dogs.

While they can be a bit of a nuisance, especially if you have your own pet with you, most of them are harmless.

Take the left loop first, as the steep slanting steps can be quite challenging on the way down.

The hike is beautiful and offers stunning views.

Remember to wear good hiking boots with a gripping tread to ensure your safety.

But the highlight of Red Rock Park, for me, is the hot air balloon events.

I was lucky enough to witness the Freedom Ride and Flight Cruise on July 29th.

It was an incredible sight, with vibrant balloons floating in the clear sky against the backdrop of the red cliffs.

View of the Red Rock Park
NayaDadara / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

I must say that Gallup is a treasure trove of cultural wonder and thrilling adventures.

For those seeking thrilling adventures, nothing beats the exhilarating experience of a hot air balloon ride with X-Treme-Lee Fun Balloon Adventures, while the rich tapestry of Navajo culture continues to inspire at the Weaving in Beauty and the Navajo Code Talkers Museum.

Gallup embodies a wonderful blend of culture, art, adventure, and history, making it a place that never ceases to surprise and delight.

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