Hot-air balloons rise above Gallup during the Red Rock Balloon Rally in December.
Photo by Charles Mann Photography
Perched on the edge of the Navajo Nation, Gallup and its surrounds are a bastion of Native American culture. McKinley County has two-and-a-half times as many artists as any other in New Mexico. Native American art overflows Route 66 trading posts and is even served up tableside at Route 66 diners.
Gallup Coffee Company
In this java desert, it's hard to locate a great espresso, but this indie favorite serves caffeine jolts with flair, as well as bags of single-origin beans for the trip home.
Flavour Savour Sandwich Shop
This locally owned take-out restaurant hams it up with house-smoked meats and quality sammies. The smoked turkey horseshoe with whole roasted green chile and Havarti on fresh baked sourdough panini is to die for.
At this diner, fry bread (a puff of fried dough) is a common bun stand-in for green-chile cheeseburgers and a tortilla substitute for tacos. It even doubles as dessert when slathered in honey. Native artisans sell their jewelry and creations tableside.
Sammy C's Rock n' Sports
Pub and Grille Former sports broadcaster Sammy Chioda carries his fandom into his namesake bar where he displays his impressive memorabilia collection, including signed jerseys from the likes of Michael Jordan.
Gallup Visitor Information Center
During World War II, U.S. Marine Corps Code Talkers turned the Diné (Navajo people) language into an unbreakable code that helped the Allied Forces prevail. This center displays a room of historic photos and memorabilia. Also at the center, located in the historic Santa Fe Depot, the Masters Gallery showcases contemporary Native American artwork while the Storyteller Museum hangs traditional art.
For a small town, Gallup has an oversized collection of New Deal–era art. Find a hotbed at the McKinley County Courthouse, itself a New Deal project, which houses 19 pieces of Works Progress Administration art. The working courthouse's lobby features tile with Native American motifs and punched-tin Spanish Colonial–inspired light figures, all WPA funded. Lloyd Moylan painted several 10-foot-long murals for the second-story courtroom.
The Zuni Olla Maidens walk the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial parade.
Photo by gettyimagers.com/kobbydagan
Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial
This multifaceted event includes a parade, a competition powwow, and an all-Indian rodeo all wrapped in a county-fair vibe. It's one of the longest-standing cultural preservation events in the country; it's been going 98 years and counting. The 2019 event will take place August 2–11. Held consecutively, the Gallup Native Arts Market is the first Native-managed and Native-juried art market in the country, and its aisles overflow with fine arts from local creatives.
Gallup trading posts
are chock full of choices.
Photo by Gabriella Marks
Ellis Tanner Trading Company
Fourth-generation trader Ellis Tanner operates an old-fashioned trading post, allowing people to bring in jewelry and rugs to sell. They can also pawn items for cash, which can mean bargains on authentic jewelry for shoppers.
Richardson's Trading Post
Opened in 1913, this trading post teems with turquoise and silver jewelry, pottery, and an expansive rug room. Longtime owner Bill Richardson presided over the business from the 1940s until his death in 2017, but family still guides the store and its impressive Native American goods collection. 505-722-4762
City Electric Shoe Shop
Italian immigrant Sesto Bonaguidi founded this shop in 1924, eschewing the handmade repair methods of his forefathers for electric machinery. Today, the third generation of family cobblers oversees this shop, which also manufactures Taos Moccasins, inspired by the originals.
ART 123 Gallery
This gallery mounts a new exhibition every month, showcasing everything from abstract painting to contemporary jewelry, and its calendar overflows with artist demos and artist-led workshops.
LOOM Indigenous Art Gallery
Gallup's smallest gallery packs a punch, housing cutting-edge exhibitions spotlighting emerging, innovative, and contemporary indigenous artists from North America.
Outdoor Adventure Landmarks
Photo courtesy City of Gallup
High Desert Trail System
Gallup has become a revered mountain biking getaway thanks, in part, to this trail system with three loops of single track featuring a variety of terrain.
Red Rock Park
Awash in cayenne-pepper-colored cliffs, this park houses popular hiking trails, including one that leads to Pyramid Peak.
Mentmore Climbing Area
Local rock climbers established the routes at this sandstone crag outside of town (ask for maps at the visitors center), drawing in guests to join them at one of the northwest region's most popular sport climbing destinations.
Check It Out
Every summer for more than 25 years, the Gallup Nightly Indian Dances have taken over McKinley County Courthouse Square at sunset with Native American dances.