Gallup Travel Guide

Read our comprehensive travel guide for Gallup, New Mexico, and discover the best places to visit, things to do, where to stay, what to eat, and more. Plan your perfect vacation now!

Introduction to Gallup

Gallup is a small city located in Northwest New Mexico, known for its stunning natural scenery, rich Native American culture, and vibrant arts scene. It is often referred to as the “Indian Capital of the World” due to its large population of Native American residents and its proximity to several important Navajo Nation sites.

With a population of just over 22,000 people, Gallup offers travelers a chance to experience the unique blend of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo cultures that have shaped the region’s history. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventures, historic landmarks, or cultural attractions, Gallup has something for everyone.

List of Places to Visit in Gallup

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

One of the best ways to experience the rich culture and history of Gallup is by visiting its museums and historical landmarks. Here are some must-visit attractions:

  • The Gallup Cultural Center: This museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the art and artifacts of the Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi tribes. Visitors can learn about the traditions and customs of these tribes through interactive exhibits and demonstrations of weaving, pottery making, and other crafts.

  • The Navajo Code Talkers Museum: This museum tells the fascinating story of the Navajo code talkers who played a significant role in World War II. Visitors can learn about the complex code that the Navajo developed and used during the war and hear firsthand accounts from surviving code talkers.

  • Red Rock Park and Museum: This park is home to a stunning collection of red sandstone formations and offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can also explore the museum, which showcases the ancient history and geology of the area.

Natural Attractions of Gallup: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

Gallup is surrounded by some of the most dramatic natural scenery in the Southwest, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Here are some of the best natural attractions in the area:

  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to some of the most well-preserved ancient ruins in North America. Visitors can explore the stunning architecture and learn about the history of the Ancestral Puebloan people who lived in the region.

  • El Morro National Monument: This impressive sandstone bluff has been an important landmark for travelers for centuries. Visitors can climb to the top of the mesa for incredible views of the surrounding landscape and explore the ancient inscriptions and petroglyphs carved into the rock face.

  • The Bluewater Lake State Park: This popular recreational area is home to a picturesque lake surrounded by hiking trails, picnic areas, and campsites. Visitors can fish, swim, or rent a boat and explore the serene waters.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Gallup

Gallup is a paradise for hiking and biking enthusiasts, with miles of scenic trails winding through its stunning natural landscapes. Here are some of the best trails to explore:

  • The High Desert Trail System: This network of trails is perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. It offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and mesas.

  • The Zuni-Acoma Trail: This trek through the ancient Acoma and Zuni Pueblos offers a fascinating glimpse into Native American history and culture. The trail passes through several important cultural sites and provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

  • The Pyramid Rock Trail: This short but challenging trail leads hikers to the top of a stunning rock formation that offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and mesas.

Best Things to Do in Gallup: Activities and Tours

In addition to hiking and exploring the city’s cultural and natural attractions, Gallup offers a wide range of activities and tours for visitors to enjoy. Here are some of the best:

  • The Gallup Art Walk: This monthly event showcases the work of local artists and musicians and offers visitors a chance to explore the vibrant arts scene in Gallup.

  • The Nightly Indian Dances: These traditional dances are performed nightly during the summer months by the local Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi tribes. Visitors can witness breathtaking displays of culture and artistry.

  • The Red Rock Balloon Rally: This annual event brings together hot air balloon enthusiasts from around the world for a weekend of stunning balloon flights, music, and food.

Week-Long Itinerary for Gallup

If you have a week to spend in Gallup, here is a sample itinerary that will help you make the most of your time:

Day Activity
1 Visit the Gallup Cultural Center and explore downtown Gallup
2 Hike the Pyramid Rock Trail and visit the Navajo Code Talkers Museum
3 Take a day trip to Chaco Culture National Historical Park
4 Explore Red Rock Park and Museum and take a scenic drive through the surrounding landscape
5 Go fishing or boating at Bluewater Lake State Park
6 Take a hot air balloon ride over the Red Rocks
7 Attend a Nightly Indian Dance and enjoy a traditional Native American meal

Food and Drink Scene of Gallup

Gallup is home to a diverse range of restaurants and cafes, offering everything from traditional Native American cuisine to burgers and pizza. Here are some must-try dishes and beverages:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Green Chile Stew: A spicy stew made with pork, potatoes, and green chiles, this dish is a staple of New Mexican cuisine and is not to be missed.

  • Navajo Tacos: These delicious and filling tacos are made with fry bread instead of a traditional tortilla and are typically topped with beef, beans, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes.

  • Lamb Roast: A traditional Navajo dish, lamb roast is slow-cooked with spices and served with fry bread and other traditional sides.

Local Beverages

  • Navajo Tea: Made from local herbs and spices, Navajo tea is a refreshing and flavorful beverage that is often served at traditional ceremonies and events.

  • Rattlesnake Cocktail: A quirky local specialty, this drink is made with tequila, lime juice, and a pickled jalapeno that is topped with a small piece of rattlesnake.

Where to Stay in Gallup: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Gallup offers a variety of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Here are some recommended hotels, hostels, and guesthouses:

  • El Rancho Hotel: This historic hotel has hosted movie stars and other celebrities over the years and offers comfortable rooms and a charming Old West atmosphere.

  • Gallup Microtel Inn & Suites: This budget-friendly option offers clean and comfortable rooms and convenient amenities like free breakfast and Wi-Fi.

  • The Red Horse Vineyard Bed and Breakfast: This charming inn is located just outside of Gallup and offers stunning views of the surrounding vineyards and mesas. Guests can enjoy a homemade breakfast each morning and relax in the peaceful surroundings.

What to Buy in Gallup: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

For visitors looking for unique souvenirs and gifts, Gallup offers a wide range of local products and crafts. Here are some of the best:

  • Navajo Jewelry: Handcrafted by local artisans using traditional techniques, Navajo jewelry is renowned for its beauty and quality.

  • Pottery and Weavings: The Zuni and Hopi tribes are known for their beautiful pottery and weavings, which make excellent souvenirs.

  • Rattlesnake Art: A quirky local specialty, rattlesnake art includes everything from elaborately carved rattlesnake heads to painted rattlesnake skins.

Local Culture and Customs of Gallup

Gallup is a culturally rich and diverse city, with a blend of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo influences shaping the local customs and traditions. Visitors should respect the local culture by learning about and observing cultural practices, such as the Navajo tradition of introducing themselves and their families before conducting business or engaging in conversation.

Best Time to Visit Gallup

Gallup’s climate is typically mild and dry, with hot summers and cool winters. The best time to visit is in the spring or fall, when the weather is mild and the scenery is at its most beautiful. Summer is a popular time for outdoor activities, but temperatures can be quite high. Winter can be cold and snowy, but visitors can still enjoy indoor activities and cultural events.

Do’s and Don’ts of Gallup

Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when visiting Gallup:


  • Respect the local culture and customs.
  • Take part in traditional Native American ceremonies and events.
  • Try the local cuisine and beverages.
  • Explore the natural and cultural attractions.


  • Take photos of people or places without permission.
  • Touch or climb on ancient ruins or cultural artifacts.
  • Disrespect traditional or religious ceremonies.
  • Visit restricted Native American lands without permission.

Safety and Health

Safety in Gallup

Gallup is a relatively safe city with a low crime rate. However, visitors should take basic safety precautions, such as locking car doors and keeping valuables out of sight. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts should also be aware of the potential for flash floods and other natural hazards.

Health in Gallup

Gallup is home to several medical facilities and pharmacies, and visitors should have no trouble finding the care they need. However, travelers should be aware of the effects of high altitude and make sure to stay properly hydrated and rested.

Getting to Gallup: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Gallup

The closest airport to Gallup is the Gallup Municipal Airport, which offers limited commercial flights. The Albuquerque International Sunport is the nearest major airport, located about 135 miles east of Gallup.

Bus Stations Near Gallup

Greyhound operates a bus station in downtown Gallup, providing transportation to destinations throughout the region.

Other Options

Visitors driving to Gallup can access the city via Interstate 40, which runs east-west through the region. Amtrak also operates a train station in Gallup, with daily service to and from Los Angeles and Chicago.

How to Get Around in Gallup

Gallup is a fairly small city, and visitors can easily explore its attractions on foot or by bike. Rental cars are also available for those who want to explore the surrounding area, and taxi and shuttle services are available for transportation to the airport or other destinations.

Where to Go Next from Gallup: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Gallup is an ideal base for exploring the stunning natural scenery and cultural landmarks of the Southwest. Here are some nearby destinations and excursions to consider:

  • The Grand Canyon: Located just a few hours’ drive from Gallup, the Grand Canyon is one of the world’s most breathtaking natural wonders and a must-visit destination for any traveler to the Southwest.

  • Monument Valley: This iconic desert landscape is home to towering rock formations and stunning vistas, and has been featured in countless Hollywood films.

  • Santa Fe: The capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe is known for its stunning architecture, vibrant arts scene, and delicious Southwestern cuisine.


Whether you are interested in history, culture, or outdoor adventure, Gallup offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience. With its stunning natural scenery, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality, Gallup is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the Southwest.