El Rancho – Home of the Movie Stars

November 26, 2014
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El Rancho Hotel sign

A historic hotel along Route 66 once frequented by movie stars

Historic Route 66 is lined with quirky old hotels, nostalgic diners, gas stations, old neon signs and tourist attractions. Some are vacant and sad-looking. Others are still operational and playing up their connection to the road that was once the major route across the United States. The historic El Rancho Hotel along Route 66 in Gallup, New Mexico is still very much operational. During an overnight stay in Gallup at a different hotel, our hotel clerk directed us to El Rancho when we asked for restaurant recommendations. We discovered a unique and interesting place known as Home of the Movie Stars.

Front of El Rancho Hotel

Front of El Rancho Hotel

Entering the two-story lobby with its heavy beams, mounted trophy heads and Navajo rugs felt like stepping back in time.

El Rancho Hotel lobby

El Rancho Hotel lobby

El Rancho opened in December 1937. It was built by the brother of movie magnate D.W. Griffith. It was the headquarters for over 15 films made between 1940 and 1964, including Desert Song, Streets of Laredo, Rio Carnival and The Hallelujah Trail

Lobby and staircase at El Rancho Hotel

Lobby and staircase at El Rancho Hotel

A circular staircase leads to a second level balcony gallery featuring autographed photographs of movies stars and Southwest art.

Autographed photographs

Autographed photographs on the second level

 

movie star photos

A sampling of movie star photos

The restaurant decor resembles a Mexican cantina. It features both Mexican food and American standards. Each dish is named after a movie star. My steak was cooked perfectly. My husband enjoyed his tacos. The salsa was very hot.

I cannot say anything about the quality of the rooms. I did not see them. Each one is named after a star who stayed at the hotel. The gift store on the main floor has a great collection of Indian art and jewelry.

 

El Rancho

Vine growing on outside of El Rancho Hotel

 

El Rancho


As you exit the hotel a sign wishing you Happy Trails says All Our Guests Are Stars

Have you been to El Rancho Hotel in Gallup? have you visited another interesting and unusual hotel along Route 66?



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  • Reply
    Jason Butler
    November 26, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I wish I would have made a pit-stop to see this when I did my cross country trip last year. The hotel looks very retro.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 26, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      It is very retro.

    • Reply
      MARLENE DANIELS
      October 28, 2018 at 10:10 pm

      We saw it and went inside. It felt to me that it was crowded with spirits. Besutifully decorated. I have totally regreted that we didn’t spend the night!!!!

      • Reply
        Donna Janke
        October 30, 2018 at 4:28 pm

        I didn’t spent the night either and wonder what the rooms would feel like.

  • Reply
    Susan Cooper
    November 26, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Hi Donna – What an interesting old Hotel. I’m a big fan of history and of old movies so this place would have been right up my alley. Would love to have gotten a peek at the inside of the hotel rooms. 🙂

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 26, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      It was fun to see all the signed star photographs. Brought back memories of old movies and TV shows.

  • Reply
    JeriWB
    November 26, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I absolutely love the interior. It reminds me a bit of the interior at the La Fonda Plaza Hotel in Sante Fe. Then again, I love anything remotely tied to southwest decor.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 27, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      I’m hoping to spend a couple of days in Santa Fe this spring, I’ll have to remember to check out the La Fonda Plaza Hotel.

  • Reply
    jacquie
    November 26, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    This is so campy and cool! I’ll have to remember this if I get out that way. Just looking at all the pictures of the old time stars would be great fun!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      It was fun to look at the photos.

  • Reply
    Meredith Wouters
    November 26, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    I live right on Route 66 and never knew this was there! Funny how the things in your own backyard go unnoticed until someone comes to visit. Thanks for opening my eyes. Next time I go through Gallup, I’ll stop and have a look.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 27, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      Sometimes it take someone “from away” to help us discover things near us.

  • Reply
    Lenie Hokansson
    November 27, 2014 at 7:11 am

    Hi Donna, what a wonderful place to discover. I’ll bet you stop there on your return journey. You must have spent hours there just checking things out. I love those old time movies and stars.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      It was fun to remember which movies and shows we’d seen.

  • Reply
    Catarina
    November 27, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Have to admit I had never even heard of El Rancho home of the movie stars. The whole concept is so American and that’s truly delightful in the sense that it really illustrates part of your culture.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      It is very American and very fitting for Route 66.

  • Reply
    Phoenicia Oyeniyi
    November 27, 2014 at 8:16 am

    I would like to visit this place, amongst many in America.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Ken Dowell
    November 27, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Would love to take a longer ride down Route 66. I’ve only seen a small piece of it in Albuquerque. The hotel looks great. Nice pix.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 27, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      I’ve only driven small bits of Route 66 too – a bit in New Mexico, a bit in Arizona, and a bit in California. Even in that little bit, I saw many interesting “relics” of its past along the sides of the road.

  • Reply
    Noelle McNamara
    November 27, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Wow Donna..someday I hope to travel route 66 and I would be thrilled to stop at a place like El Rancho!

  • Reply
    Anna Khan
    November 28, 2014 at 3:58 am

    Hello Donna.

    Nice post with great pictures. What an amazing hotel with a long history. Many who are fan of old movies will be visiting this place. I feel it is really a place worth sharing. Hotel seems amazing with lot of pictures. I am happy to know that El Rancho is home of the movie stars. The names of rooms after stars. WOW!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 28, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Thanks Anna. The old star pictures are great.

  • Reply
    Marquita
    November 28, 2014 at 6:16 am

    I’ve been to Gallup – too bad I didn’t know about El Rancho because it looks like just the kind of place I like to explore. I’ve made a note of it so maybe next time. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 28, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      You will have to stop in next time you’re through Gallup.

  • Reply
    William Rusho
    November 28, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    It is a gorgeous hotel. I am glad it did not get destroyed to make room for some shopping mall or a part of a motel chain. We loose to many of our traditions and historical sites.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 28, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      There are a lot of abandoned hotels and restaurants along the old route 66. It is nice to see this one kept up.

  • Reply
    Doreen Pendgracs
    November 29, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Looks like a fun place to visit, Donna! I know my husband would enjoy it, as he’s a real nostalgia buff.

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