Downtown Gallup has pretty well recovered from its reputation as a rough neighborhood by closing many of its bars, making the district a pleasant place to walk and shop. Standout shopping opportunities include Richardson's Trading Co., where the sheer array of Navajo rugs and silver and turquoise jewelry may make a collector out of you, and Shush Yaz Trading Co., which has grand displays of all things Native American. Ellis Tanner Trading Co. is perhaps the closest thing to a genuine trading post of old, where the essentials of reservation life are still bought and traded.
Shopping is not downtown's only draw, though. In the Chamber of Commerce building, the Navajo Code Talker Museum commemorates the Navajo soldiers who employed their native tongue to baffle the Axis during World War II. More local color can be found at the galleries of the Gallup Cultural Center, housed in the city's old railroad station, and the exhibits of the Rex Museum. And it's worth catching a flick at the 1928 El Morro Theater just to admire the superb pueblo deco architecture.
Back at his trading post ― which is stocked to the rafters with Navajo weavings and old-fashioned jewelry cases ― Bill Richardson consults with the first customers of the day. Before they head out to Canyon de Chelly, they need to find the perfect bracelet. It's clear they've come to the right place to find the genuine article.