Stop in Gallup and Grants for Route 66 lore and a dive into the trading post scene. Within two hours of Gallup live 1,000 Native American artists. They are responsible for 70 percent of the authentic Native American art sold internationally.
1. Gallup Native Arts Market
Why go: Held Aug. 9-11, 2018, few places enable you to meet Native American artists under one giant white tent where they are selling their work during a three-day event.
Tip: Look for Navajo artist Aaron Anderson, nicknamed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Navajo, who does tufa casting, pouring molten silver over porous rock to cast his jewelry.
2. Bill Malone Trading Co.
Why go: Bill spent more than four decades running trading posts for others before opening up his own store. You may see his wife Minnie in the store weaving.
Tip: Take time to talk to longtime trader Bill who can answer questions and give you history on pieces that catch your eye.
3. Nugget Gallery, Perry Null Trading Co., Tanners Indian Arts
Why go: Started years ago, all three Gallup trading posts are family run with the next-generation of traders playing lead roles.
Tip: Nugget Gallery and Perry Null Trading Co. offer online shopping.
4. El Rancho Hotel
Why go: Built in 1936, this rambling hotel in Gallup is a true Route 66 classic, attracting Hollywood stars like Ronald Reagan in its early days. Rooms are named after actors, and their autographs fill the second-floor walls.
Tip: Grab a drink at the 49er Lounge, arguably the best-stocked bar in town. Visit Ortega’s Jewelry Store in the hotel before heading to the bigger shops in town.
5. New Mexico Mining Museum
Why go: Navajo sheepherder Paddy Martinez discovered Grants' uranium reserves in 1950, which led to a 30-year mining boom. One floor below the Grants' visitor center, you can tour a simulated uranium mine.
Tip: Call ahead and request a tour with Jack, a former uranium miner.
6. El Malpais National Monument
Why go: The monument's visitor center is in Grants, making it easy to learn about the area's volcanic past.
Tip: Hike around a cinder cone volcano on an easy-to-moderate 3.8-mile loop in the El Calderon Area.
7. Route 66 Arch
Why go: Completed in 2016, the drive-under neon arch in Grants is shaped like the iconic Route 66 emblem.
Park under it to get a great photo.
Tip: The arch is off of I-40's exits 81 and 85 on Route 66.
8. Route 66 Vintage Museum & Double Six Gallery
Why go: Located in downtown Grants, this museum features vintage Route 66 postcards and a 1923 Model T Ford.
Tip: Nearby is Western New Mexico Aviation Heritage Museum. Liz Taylor's third husband failed to see the airport's beacon in 1958 and fatally crashed his plane into Mount Taylor.
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