El Rancho Hotel

Gallup, NM   /   10 Reviews

1000 E 66, Gallup, NM 87301, USA

In the year 2018, Los Angeles or New York City could serve as the top filming and partying locations for Hollywood’s biggest celebrity names. Unmatched in both convenience and luxury, American’s two biggest cities are the pinnacle for the film industry’s elite. However, in 1939, the hottest location to film and party in was located neither in California or New York, but in the far-reaching and deserted northwest corner of New Mexico state. Over time, it has now given itself over to paranormal activity.

Haunted El Rancho Hotel

The History of the El Rancho

The El Rancho Hotel was constructed in 1937 by R.E. Griffith, brother to filmmaker and director D.W. Griffith. A theatre businessman by trade, Griffith got into the hotel construction business in the early 1930s and constructed many properties. Designed as a stylish western oasis with a real-life tagline constructed onto the building, “Charm of yesterday and convenience of tomorrow”, the hotel boasted over eighty rooms at the time, a full-sized bar called the 49er, dining room, and restaurant. Five-star accommodation service was guaranteed and employees were trained in hosting by the legendary Fred Harvey Company. Setting right off Route 66 in Gallup, New Mexico, business from Tinseltown was about to pick up.

Haunted El Rancho Hotel

The most popular genre in filmmaking during the late 1930s and early 1940s was the western. Gallup had always been a small railway town and it wasn’t long before Hollywood’s most popular studios were vying for the location and booking rooms for their actors and actresses. Over the years such stars as Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, Joan Crawford, John Wayne, Doris Day, Jimmy Stewart, and even future President Ronald Reagan.

The combination of all the star power, mixed with the wild west atmosphere of the nearby shoots had the hotel being the number one destination to film and socially romp in. Tasmanian wildman actor Errol Flynn even once rode a horse straight from the set and into the hotel and gussied right up to the bar for a drink. Like all filmmaking waves, the western genre soon passed and was no longer popular to make. With the dwindling presence of Hollywood and its celebrities, the El Rancho’s limelight began to fade.

Falling into disrepair and suffering from the harsh southwestern weather element, the El Rancho was in dire need of saving. Businessman Armand Ortega stepped up in the early 1980s and bought the El Rancho for $500,000 and was given another loan from the state for $500,000 in repairs, thus giving the hotel a second life. Ready and open for business once again in 1988, the hotel began registering complaints of ghostly activities shortly after its reopening.

Is the El Rancho Hotel haunted?

Late night laughter, heavy footsteps, and wall tappings are among the chief complaints and reported as happening in most rooms and hallways in the hotel. Given over to the layout and design of the hotel, the most expensive room is the bridal suite and it coincidentally is the most haunted. A hotel housekeeper reportedly walked in once to clean the suite while the guests were out for the day and was terrified to see the dirty clothes on the bed actually begin to manifest a shape as if an invisible presence was wearing them! Dense cold spots, the bathroom door opening and closing unaided, and the mattress being pushed in are some of the more added activity to this room in particular.

Haunted El Rancho Hotel

El Rancho Hotel Bridal Suite Livingroom

What is the genesis of this paranormal activity? To date, there have been no confirmed murders or tragic history necessarily associated with the property itself. The most agreed upon explanation by paranormal enthusiasts is the area. Route 66 has a long and sordid history. During its construction, it ran right through Gallup, disrupting along its path many rumored Native American burial grounds.

Gallup itself has been dubbed “Heart of Indian Country” due to it’s former and sizable Native American populations. Southwestern New Mexico was the site of many fatal encounters against the ever-conquering, United State’s Cavalry. As a locale in the Southwest, the state of New Mexico is home to over four hundred ghost towns. The new Route 66 runs around a portion of these and now there are several ghost stories online posted by weary travelers who have encountered the unexplained on the actual road itself.

The El Rancho now stands as a popular, hotel attraction in Gallup. Rooms are all named after those stars of yesteryear who once graced the rooms there. 8×10 autographs also are posted all throughout the walls of the hotel, against it’s faded Southwestern painting motifs. The Restaurant at the El Rancho serves a wide array of Tex-Mex favorites including the most ordered being the fajitas. 49er Lounge and available banquet rooms still round business nonstop throughout the year. But when retiring after an evening of travel, fajitas, or revelry, guests can be nearly assured to hear the faint sound of laughter and exuberance being celebrated by…….the other side.

Posted in Haunted Hotels and Real Haunts

10 Reviews

  1. Neila Angel

    My husband and I stayed in Room 506, directly beneath the bridal suite, of the El Rancho Hotel last night. The energy of the space felt heavy, but I ignored it because we got such an amazing deal on the room – which was actually more like an apartment. This morning, I noticed my husband was sort of grumpy with me. I just assumed it was because he didn’t sleep well. I had woken him during the night after having had a nightmare that I could only describe to him as “evil.” However, through a conversation later in the day I would learn that he was upset with me for “opening the drapes in the bedroom in an attempt to get him to wake up.” I was in the shower. And I did not open the drapes. Not until much later when he actually was up and in the living area. He had gotten up, closed them and gone back to bed while I showered. While I’m glad he no longer thinks I rudely opened the drapes while he slept, we were both a little unnerved by this. With that said, the hotel is beautiful, the staff friendly and helpful and the restaurant food delicious.

    May 28, 2017 at 10:43 pm Reply
  2. Jacob

    So I’m currently at the El Rancho hotel and I feel the heavy presence of some type of energy here, so I googled El Rancho hotel haunted, which is how I found this site. I originally reserved the cheapest room bc I’m just passing through town (should of been in bed hours ago) however I was greeted with the same hospitality and was upgraded to the Jackie cooper room for free! Currently have chills down my spine bc I’m reading exactly what I’m experiencing and I’m kinda afraid to go to bed. Also I notice all the windows in my room are bolted down which makes me think this is either a bad part of town or they open by themselves otherwise.

    February 12, 2019 at 11:46 pm Reply
  3. Kasie Bidwell

    I am currently at the El Rancho, and as mentioned in almost everything I’ve just read, the staff does not get any better than this. An over the top great crew. My friend and I have heard no laughing, doors or windows opening on their own, or any other sounds that aren’t due to the living. However the old woman sitting in cafe/restaurant, that’s a bit spooky..native American woman, clear as day, blink and she’s gone. My friend saw her, and we had no thoughts of this place being haunted until then..we are just passing through know nothing of the area..also my kitten is watching something we can’t see.. he’s been following it since we checked in..I’ll post more in the morning if things get more interesting.

    September 28, 2019 at 11:37 pm Reply
    1. Chelsea

      Anything interesting happen?

      December 10, 2019 at 10:45 pm Reply
  4. Nola Cleveland

    We are in the Jimmy Stewart room tonight awaiting hearing of doors opening and laughter but all I hear is my sons farts and it reeks of death.

    July 16, 2020 at 10:09 pm Reply
  5. Morgan Joseph

    I watched the Ghost Adventures of this hotel I would love to see it being really haunted by children

    March 29, 2021 at 5:41 am Reply
  6. Lesli

    We finally were able to go and stay at the supposidly haunted El Rancho hotel and motel. We were able to spend 3 nights. So we got to spend the night our 1st night on the 2nd floor room #222, sorry to say but nothing happened in this room for us, which was for me, my husband and our 2 teenage kids. Each of our 3 rooms felt totally, inviting and very comfortable at 1st you know.. But each night in each room was different for real! So our 2nd night, Saturday night was in room 118, Marks Brothers Suite, which was the very last room on the 1st floor located near the most haunted part of the hotel of all called the hall leading to the bunk house,, where one of the rooms on the 1st floor of the bunk house back in the day devil worship was done in that room and the effects and sounds of screams ans singinging can still be heard down those corridors sometimes to security and construction workers. Room #118 Marx Brothers Suite, there was a few scary little things that occurred 2 me and my family in that room that night. 1st me and my 2 kid heard what sounded like a metal sheet being moved right outside our window twice and there was nothing. Then when my kids were in the lobby, I went in to use the bathroom and left the bathroom door open, and as I was using the toilet the bathroom door started closing half way and stopped. Then later when me and my 2 kids were in the 2 rooms, me and my daughter were playing a board game in one room and my son was playing video games in the other room, and my son freaked out saying mom did you here that rattling sound, I said yes, he said what was it, I said it wasn’t us for we were playing a board game, he got so scared so we’re we, he went and wiggled the chain lock to the door and that wasn’t the sound, next he went to the same bathroom door that closed part way on me earlier turning the door know and immediately he freaked out and so did we cause that was the exact sound, something had kept turning the door know back and forth a few times. And later that night something kept opening up the curtains part way in both rooms, needless to say it definitely was a haunted room. But, Saturday night at almost the 3Am Devils Hour in the main Lobby on the bottom level by the Ortegas Indian store sign at 2:45 AM, I saw with my own eyes an partial apparition trying to form, where it formed from the waist down an all white apparition. Now our 3rd night at this hotel, we were put on what the hotel staff called the floor with the most activity. We stayed in room 307. At 1st, everything was fine, I really didn’t think anything was going to happen. But my husband had to work from 11pm till 2 or 3 Am. Well at about 10 PM when my husband was still with us,, all of a sudden the 4 of us heard 3 light to medium knocks inside our room,, we looked outside immediately and there was absolutely nobody outside anywhere in the hall knocking on anybody hall.. then later around 2 AM our 2 kids were laying down in their shared bed in a seperate room from me and my husbands bed. And my husband wasn’t home from work yet, and I was so tired, so I turned off the TV and turned my back towards the door and about 5 minutes later, I full on felt 100%, I felt, what felt like a body pressed up against my back solid, and it made me feel so uneasy and scared abd not right because nobody was there that anyone could see, but no doubt at all I felt the pressure and intense pressure and fear it was trying to invoke in me so I wouldn’t move and so I’d be afraid to even mention it. It lasted for 5 to 10 minutes before it lifted, I’ve never ever felt anything like this in my life. I still haven’t told my kids about it. And then later that night I heard it’s its footsteps come up behind me. Even right now, I’m having issues with this, even though I’m home.

    April 20, 2021 at 4:29 pm Reply
  7. Jen

    Wow! That sounds like an intense experience. Were there any other activities that happened while you and your family were at the hotel?

    June 10, 2021 at 5:13 am Reply
  8. Mike

    My wife and I just stopped in for a late lunch and I had no idea of the property having any potential haunting; however from the moment I walked in the energy was overwhelming. It took every ounce of energy I had to just keep my balance, let alone decipher any messages being delivered. The floor literally felt like I was walking on a small pool float the entire time I was in the building and I could hear spirits beneath, hundreds or more talking, laughing, yelling, crying, singing, etc. As soon as I stepped back outside I was 100% back to normal. There is more energy here than meets the eye, there is some sort of rushing/flowing water or energy stream beneath the property which is amplifying the effects and there are spirits here pre-dating the El Ranco as well, in my humble opinion.

    October 7, 2021 at 4:38 pm Reply
  9. Andy

    We stayed in the bridal suite. I refused to sleep next to the closet that locked from the outside. The family referred to it as the demon closet. I totally forgot about it but I did feel the bed get pushed in the middle of the night. It happened at like 3am. I didn’t remember until I read this article. I told the family that the next morning. It was a good hotel except for the creepy factor.

    April 2, 2023 at 4:16 pm Reply

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