Things to Do in Gallup

As you get close to Gallup, New Mexico, you will no doubt be impressed by the red rock cliffs that surround this charming and historic town, which is the center of commerce for the Navajo Nation


Tinted by iron and topped by mesas, these colorful cliffs are just a prelude to all of the beauty, color and art that you will see in town. Colorful murals depict the local history and culture on downtown buildings, and in the evenings, you can watch Native Americans sing and dance in the town square. Historic Route 66 goes right through Gallup—a real piece of classic Americana! While the town cherishes its roots in mining and the railroad industry, Gallup is now a top-notch and modern destination.

Up, Up and Away

Special events are part of the Gallup scenery. You can marvel at the spectacular image of hundreds of hot-air balloons soaring overhead at the annual Red Rock Balloon Rally, which is held the first weekend in December. The rally features balloon races, friendly “best balloon” competitions and a parade.

In June, you can cheer loudly from the stands and feel your heart beat faster as you watch cowboys strap on their chaps, polish their silver spurs, and hang on to a bucking bronco for as long as possible at the annual Lion’s Club Rodeo. One of the fun highlights that makes everybody smile is watching children ages 6 to 17 compete for cash prizes in barrel racing, goat tying and team roping.

Native American culture is celebrated for five days each August at the annual Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, where 22 different Native American tribes gather together to honor and commemorate their heritage.

What’ll You Have?

American and Mexican cuisines commingle at the Coal Street Pub, a downtown restaurant where you'll see Gallup memorabilia proudly displayed. The quick-lunch menu features green chili stew (which is a New Mexico specialty), burgers and sandwiches.

The cross-cuisine menu at Cocina de Dominguez has something for everyone, but the restaurant specializes in Mexican dishes that make good use of fresh, local produce.

At Earl’s, you can venture into new culinary territory and savor a Navajo burger or a taco made with Native American fry bread instead of the traditional Mexican tortilla shell. And after you’re done eating, you can purchase some treasures and trinkets from the Native American vendors who are selling their wares there.

Soak in the Culture

The Gallup Cultural Center, which is located in the historic Santa Fe Railway depot, showcases the city’s history in a series of storytelling exhibits and displays. Native American culture, the railroad, and of course, the iconic Route 66, all played their part in the development of the area—each with equal import.

One of the key components of the United States and her allies winning World War II was the virtually unbreakable code used by the Native Americans. The Gallup-McKinley County Chamber of Commerce hosts the Navajo Code Talker Museum, where you can learn about these brave heroes, who used their own language to communicate important intelligence and information.

As you enter the 1928 El Morro Theatre to be entertained by a live performance or movie, take a moment to admire the remarkable Spanish Colonial Revival facade that adorns the outside of the building.

Beat the Heat

If it’s a bit too warm for spending the day outside, a great place for the whole family to have some fun and get some exercise is Gal-A-Bowl, an air-conditioned, family-run bowling alley that has been a Gallup landmark since 1959. The tasty burritos, pizzas and burgers that are offered at the snack bar are sure to please even the pickiest of palates, so everyone will have plenty of calories to burn aiming for that strike!

Another fun place to escape high temperatures is The Skate Connection, a roller rink on the southern edge of town that has both traditional roller skates and inline skates available for rent. Time to show off your smooth moves!

Cool off in the desert at the Gallup Aquatic Center, which boasts a large activity pool featuring a beach entrance, a15-foot-high water slide and a lazy river—the entire family will have a blast while they splash! And for those looking to do some serious swimming, the 25-yard lap and recreational pool has adults-only dedicated hours, ensuring some quiet and uninterrupted exercise.

Ready to travel? Find your hotel in Gallup.




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