Gallup Travel Guide, New Mexico
Gallup, with a population of 19,000, is settled along the historic Route 66 within a short drive of several important Native American cultural sites and a handful of recreational opportunities.
At the beginning it was a railroad town and there wasn’t much around except a stagecoach stop and a saloon, but then coal mining began to thrive and miners began to come from Europe to settle and work here. After a while another business, the movie making, turned the area into a well known place as it was the perfect setting for Westerns of the era. Many actors staring in those movies stayed at the hotel now known as El Rancho Hotel and Motel making it a favorite touristy attraction.
Today it is a trade and touristy center its major advantage being its location within the Navajo & Pueblo Indian Reservation and the Zuni lands, and it is next to the ancient ruins at Chaco. Maybe that is why it was nicknamed "Heart of Indian Country". The city is also a good starting point for the visitors that want to explore the northwest corner of the state.
The best way to explore the town is by walking around downtown, checking the shops, trading posts and visiting the 20 historic buildings that are listed at the National Register of Historic Places. One of them is the Santa Fe Railroad Depot dating 1923 and built in modified Mission style. Now it is a community transportation and cultural center including a small museum and a gift shop and diner. Another cultural center is All Tribes Indian Center, built in 1928 and once known as the White Cafe. It hosts some interesting finished jewelry, old stone carvings, as well as innovative use of stones such as charolite and lapis.
There are two hotels that were famous in the city’s early days. One is the Drake Hotel that was known as the place where you can never get short of wine. The other one is the Rex Hotel, once known for its "ladies of the night." Now it has a totally different use as it was turned into a museum displaying items from the Gallup Historical Society Collection.
On the grounds of a growing consciousness of the need to preserve architecture there are other buildings that went through restoration processes. Such is the Chief Theater now known as "City Electric". Built in 1920 and redesigned in Pueblo-Deco style, now it is the place where the Native Americans go to buy goods to make ceremonial clothing. Another theater is the 1928 El Morro Theater, still used as a venue featuring different performances.
If you want to see some real action and performance you have to come in August as this is the period when the city’s special event, the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial is held. People come from all over the place to see the event while Native Americans come to either perform or trade and the city becomes really crowded.
If you can’t make it in August you can still come for there’s a good Flea Market on Saturdays when many Native Americans come to town to trade and you are sure to find something to buy that matches your taste while tasting some of the specialties like fry bread and mutton stew.
Other entertainment possibilities include watching dancers from a variety of area tribes display their ritual at the Gallup Cultural Center.
If you fancy the outdoors Gallup welcomes visitors to enjoy its state park including modern campgrounds, a playground, horseback riding trails a sports field, a nature trail and a natural amphitheater hosting many performances.
If you are wondering about accommodations and restaurants, there are choices ranging from local motels to bigger chain hotels and you can find several restaurants and local eateries to choose from. So there’s nothing to stop you from visiting the pleasant city of Gallup.
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