Route 66 - Gallup's El Rancho Hotel

After a mostly sleepless night worrying whether or not our truck was going to be broken into or vandalized, Youngest-daughter and I were relieved to find everything undamaged early the next morning. After a quick breakfast provided by the hotel, we left the Hampton Inn behind, vowing to never stay there again and telling everyone we can about our experience. Maybe if their business drops off dramatically, they'll be prompted to do something about all of those overly-aggressive drunks demanding money.

Gallup is one of the oldest towns in the U.S. with a proven population as far back as 2500 B.C. when the Puebloans settled in Canyon de Chelly. By the time the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1540, there was already a highly sophisticated Native American culture established. Today, the population stands at about 20,200, and 1/3 of its citizens are Native Americans, mostly of the Hopi, Navajo and Zuni tribes.

El Rancho Hotel
A few blocks from the Hampton Inn we had unfortunately stayed at the night before, we stopped at 1000 E. 66 to see the famous El Rancho Hotel. Built in 1937, it soon became a haven for legends of Hollywood such as John Wayne, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Errol Flynn, Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas, Humphrey Bogart, Doris Day and many others. It also hosted Presidents Reagan and Eisenhower as well as numerous other high-level politicians.

From 1940 until about 1964, the El Rancho Hotel and Gallup were firmly linked with the movie industry, especially the western genre. Stories are still told about some of the stars and their after-work antics. Apparently, the sellers of alcohol made a good living during this time. Errol Flynn is rumored to have worked all day and drank all night. He once rode his horse through the lobby and into the bar where he continued to drink while sitting in the saddle. There also seemed to be a large number of young ladies running around town bragging about the stars they had spent "quality" time with. It seems about the only star to escape any rumors was John Wayne who spent his days filming and his evenings in Monument Valley with the Navajo. He came back to his room at a decent hour and seems to have never done anything that might tarnish his image. If he ever did, it must have been in Monument Valley, far away from prying eyes, and the Navajo never told.
Entrance to the hotel

By 1964, the popularity of the western hero was fading and with it went the fortunes of the El Rancho Hotel. However, with continued upgrading and maintenance, the old girl is still in business, now mostly serving the needs of  Route 66 travelers. Along with the numerous vintage trading posts, art galleries, gift shops, and restaurants still in business along the Mother Road in Gallup, she serves as an interesting stop while discovering the history that is Route 66 in New Mexico.

All nice rooms!



Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
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