Travel on Route 66 from Santa Fe thru Albuquerque to Gallup, New Mexico

One of our favorite segments of the Mother Road is from Santa Fe through Albuquerque and westward to Gallup, New Mexico.

Santa Fe was one of the larger cities on Route 66 during its earlier alignments. The Mother Road passed through downtown near the historic LaFonda on the Plaza Hotel.

Nighttime view of Santa Fe and Old Route 66 looking west from La Fonda on the Plaza
Nightime view of Santa Fe looking west from La Fonda on the Plaza


Santa Fe remained on the original Route 66 until 1938 when the road was rerouted on a more direct route to Albuquerque.

Visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico

Night view of neon on Central Avenue in AlbuquerqueNight view of neon on Central Avenue in Albuquerque

The first route alignment of 1926-1937 ran north-south through Albuquerque. Dozens of motels, cafes, gift shops and restaurants spring up along the route.

At Albuquerque, a final turn west took the Mother Road to Gallup and then into Arizona.

Today, the fastest route between Santa Fe and Albuquerque is I-25, a distance of about 65 miles. An alternate route is on the Turquoise Trail, Highway 14, through the quaint villages of Cerillos and Madrid.

Some of these vintage motels remain, and historic neon signs still glow on old Route 66 through Albuquerque, now Central Avenue.

Tourism is a big industry in Albuquerque, hosting events such as the International Balloon Fiesta. It offers a variety of things to do such as the Sandia Peak Tramway, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, National Museum of Nuclear History, San Felipe de Neri Church and Albuquerque Old Town.

Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque
Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque

San Felipe de Neri Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico
San Felipe de Neri Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico


Vintage view of the Texas Ann Court, 2305 W. Central, Albuquerque, New Mexico, on U.S. Highway 66
Texas Ann Court, 2305 W. Central, Albuquerque, New Mexico, on U.S. Highway 66

 

 

U.S. Highway 66 in New Mexico, circa 1950s
U.S. Highway 66 in New Mexico, circa 1950s


Visiting Gallup, New Mexico

Welcome to the City of Gallup, New Mexico ... "Most Patriotic Small Town in America"Welcome to the City of Gallup, New Mexico ... "Most Patriotic Small Town in America"

Gallup is the largest city between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, and has a population of about 22,000 residents.

The city sits at an elevation of 6,512', and is known as the "most patriotic small town in America".

It is located about 140 miles west of Albuquerque, and 185 miles east of Flagstaff, and only 23 miles from the Arizona-New Mexico border.

The city is located in the middle of the Navajo Reservation.

The city was founded in 1881 as a railhead for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, and named after David Gallup, a paymaster for the railroad.

Hotel El Rancho Hotel & Motel in Gallup, New MexicoEl Rancho Hotel & Motel in Gallup, New Mexico ... "Home of the Movie Stars"

The railroad today remains an important industry in the city.

Because of the nearby rugged terrain, it was a popular location in the 1940s and 1950s for Hollywood Westerns and has hosted many well-known movie stars such as John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Ronald Reagan and Kirk Douglas.

Restaurants such as the famous El Rancho reflect the western and Indian influences on the town. Today’s visitors can partake in a meal at the El Rancho or enjoy an overnight stay and tour the memorabilia-lined grand lobby.

Gallup has over 30 hotels and over 90 restaurants and is a popular stopover point for those traveling Historic Route 66.

Area attractions include the Manuelito Visitor Center, the Navajo Code Talker Museum, the Gallup Cultural Center in the historic Santa Fe Railway depot, Red Rock Park & Museum, Bill Malone Trading Company and much more.

Shopping is also a big local attraction, with 110 trading posts, shops and galleries in Gallup, making the town the undisputed Southwestern center for authentic Native American art.

Retail stores in downtown Gallup, New Mexico
Retail stores in downtown Gallup, New Mexico

 

 

Hotel El Rancho in Gallup, New Mexico
"Charm of Yesterday, Convenience of Tomorrow"
Hotel El Rancho Hotel & Motel in Gallup, New Mexico

 

Vintage Views of U.S. Route 66 in Gallup

We have included below a sampling of our collection of vintage travel postcards dealing with Gallup and Route 66. These portray the historic road in its prime and help us to visualize "yesterday" as we drive Route 66 today.

Downtown Gallup, New Mexico, circa 1958
Downtown Gallup, New Mexico, circa 1958

 

 

Dine and dance at Pete's Cafe, Gallup, New Mexico
Dine and dance at Pete's Cafe, Gallup, New Mexico

Hotel El Rancho, the World's Largest Ranch House, Gallup, New Mexico
Hotel El Rancho, the World's Largest Ranch House, Gallup, New Mexico



Lodging Options Along Route 66

Hotels in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hotels in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Gallup, New Mexico

Click to review hotels and restaurants, read reviews and make reservations at TripAdvisor

 

Tips for Travelers on the Segments of Route 66 in America

Planning a Road Trip on Route 66? Here are the major segments ...

Route 66: The Mother Road - Introduction

Route 66: Chicago to Missouri

Route 66: Across Oklahoma to Amarillo

Route 66: Amarillo to Santa Fe

Route 66: Santa Fe to Gallup NM

Route 66: Gallup NM to Seligman AZ

Route 66: Seligman to Kingman AZ

Route 66: Kingman to Oatman AZ

Route 66: Needles to Santa Monica