Visiting the Historic El Rancho Hotel

El Rancho Hotel lobby
Alan Copson / Getty Images

The El Rancho Hotel was built in 1937 and is located on old Route 66. From the 1930s to 1950s, the hotel became a temporary home for many Hollywood stars. The El Rancho Hotel has been designated a National Historic Site and retains the charm of Old West Gallup. Autographed photos of the movie stars who have visited and Navajo Rugs surround the two-story rustic lobby.

  • Address: 1000 E. Hwy 66, Gallup, NM, 87301 (Exit 22 off I-40; Map)
  • Phone: 505.863.9311 or 800.543.6351

Visiting the Old West Home of the Stars

The El Rancho Hotel is a unique historic hotel right on Route 66. Enter the rustic wooden doors and you are taken to right back to the old west. Heavy wooden furniture, a player piano, and the famous movie star photos surround the lobby. Add original Navaho rugs, a crackling fire in a stone fireplace, western paintings, and a friendly staff and you have the makings of a great western experience.


The El Rancho's hotel rooms are each named after individual movie stars who have stayed at the historic hotel. Rooms range from a Presidential Suite and Bridal Suite to simple one bed rooms. Heavy western furniture is a signature of the El Rancho. The hotel has three stories with rooms on two levels. There is a staff-operated elevator. The inside corridors are painted brick highlighted with old west murals.


The El Rancho Restaurant serves a great Mexican meal as well as standard American fare including hearty breakfasts. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Prices are reasonable.

49er Lounge

Open Monday through Saturday, the lounge offers visitors a place to unwind. Offering a friendly western atmosphere, the lounge often has live music. The lounge is a favorite local hang-out.


The lobby has a big stone fireplace as its centerpiece. Visitors gather in the lobby to socialize or play games on the large table. Before dinner, it is common to see guests sipping wine and relaxing in one of the heavy wooden overstuffed chairs. A favorite place to rest during a winter visit is in front of the crackling fire.


Phones and TV in the Room
Pets allowed (inquire)
Banquet Room
Gift Shop
Wireless Internet in Lobby
Movie Star Photos and Western Memorabilia

Close to Everything

The El Rancho is situated on old Route 66 and has easy access to most of the downtown Gallup areas of interest. Enjoy the murals, galleries, trading posts and shops of Gallup.

Take day trips from the El Rancho and visit Native American reservations and cultural sites, shop at local trading posts, and enjoy hiking among the beautiful rock formations.

Experiencing the El Rancho

When I was a kid, way back when, I loved Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers. I loved the red rocks and bright blue skies I saw in the western movies and dreamed of owning a horse with a Navaho saddle blanket. When I entered the lobby of the El Rancho through the massive wooden doors, I was transported right back to that era.

At the desk were friendly staff, clearly Native American locals. The decor harkened back to the days of the Wild West with massive ranch house style chairs and thick wooden railings. A spiral staircase takes you to the second floor where you can spend hours enjoying the old movie star photos and western art.

The rooms seemed quiet and large old windows let the New Mexico sunshine stream in. There are many room configurations to suit individual travelers and families alike.

We loved the social atmosphere of the lobby and met people who were there for a balloon rally as well as others who were just passing through. It's a fascinating place that looks like it hasn't changed much in years.

Rates are very reasonable and free parking is available so staying at the El Rancho is attractive to the budget conscious traveler.

The El Rancho is family owned. The owner, Armand Ortega, a friendly elderly gentleman, is often seen greeting visitors in the restaurant or lounge. The El Rancho has a fascinating history.

I recommend the El Rancho for a truly unique visit back into the days of movie stars and the Wild West as well as a great way to get to know the real Gallup, New Mexico.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, TripSavvy believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.​

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