Missouri's Gateway Arch National Park has two of the superlatives in the United States: the tallest monument in the smallest national park. It’s one interesting destination as it symbolizes the country’s expansion in the 19th century. It might not be a wildlife spot, but it’s rich in history.
The arch has become an icon not just in St. Louis but in the United States. The memorial was completed in 1965, and the area was officially designated a national park in 2018. It was established to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase, and its current site is the location of the first civil government west of the Mississippi River. The park also features the Old Courthouse, where the historic Dred Scott v. Sandford case was heard – a landmark decision considered a stepping stone to the Civil War.
Gateway Arch National Park is a place to remember the United States’ colorful past – a place to commemorate the struggle for freedom and determination.
Plan The Visit
Since it’s located in St. Louis, the park can be easily accessed. Here are the opening hours of the facilities.
- The park is open daily from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- There’s a store and cafe in the area.
Activities In The Park
Though the park is small, it is packed with history. Visiting here is a satisfying learning experience.
Visit The Arch And Old Courthouse
The arch is the main attraction, and as such, it’s the most visited in the park. Here are tour options for a worthwhile visit:
For $15 to $19, tourists can ride a tram to the top (63 stories high) where they can view the expanse of the park and nearby areas. The tour will last from 45-60 minutes. There are also combination tours that involve cruises and film watching. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in winter and until 8 p.m. every summer. There’s no entrance fee.
The museum features exhibits about colonial St. Louis, Native Americans, pioneers, explorers, President Thomas Jefferson's vision, the riverfront era, and the arch. The Old Courthouse is another landmark to check out. It’s one grand building packed with civil rights history.
The park is located along the Mississippi River, so one of the best ways to appreciate its views is by cruising.
The daytime St. Louis Riverfront Cruise is ideal for checking out the city's sights. It costs $24.
A dinner cruise costs $54 and will let guests enjoy the views together with live music and good food. Tourists who want to make their Sunday memorable can take the brunch cruise complete with live entertainment. It costs $51.
The Blues and Groove & Spin cruises cost $24 and will let guests enjoy music with good ol' drinks. There's also the Decked Out Divas, a cruise with a drag show to enliven guests as they drink in the sights of the river and the park. It costs $24.
Guided Tours and Tucker Theater
The park is small, but it has rangers that will take guests on an interesting tour. They will share with them stories about the arch and the Old Courthouse. There’s a lot to learn in this humble destination. Tourists can also spend $7 for a 35-minute viewing of the documentary Monument of the Dream at Tucker Theater. This film will share with guests the history of the park.
The park is in an urban center, but that doesn’t mean it's lacking in wildlife. Thanks to the nearby river, some furry pals and winged friends visit the park.
Birders can sit pretty in the park as they observe resident birds such as peregrine falcons, waterfowls, doves, blue jays, robins, mockingbirds, pigeons, and starlings. And during summer, chimney swifts, eastern wood pewees, swallows, thrashers, and blackbirds frequent the place, while winter attracts gulls, sparrows, and juncos. There's also a small population of mammals in the park, like squirrels, opossums, raccoons, rabbits, woodchucks, and domesticated cats. Monarch butterflies and the invasive emerald ash borer are also present in the park.
Plant species include ornamental turfgrass, London plane trees, bald cypress, bluestems, switchgrass, prairie dropseed, side oats grama, and windflowers, among others. Aside from the meadow, there are zen gardens and the Explorer's Garden, where botany lovers can fill their logbooks with new entries.
For those who can’t get enough of St. Louis, there are other attractions to visit after a historical journey in the park.
St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station takes tourists to the sea as it features galleries on sharks, rivers, and oceans. It's open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and until 8 p.m. on other days.
Admission costs $25
There's no way to go up with The St. Louis Wheel. This 200 feet high Ferris wheel gives guests a 15-minute ride of stunning city views. It's open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- The cost is $15 for adults and $10 for kids
- There are combination tickets with the aquarium.
Thrill-seekers can busy themselves conquering the challenges of the St. Louis Ropes Course. There are three-stories high of obstacles in this action-packed destination, giving guests their fill of adrenaline. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and until 8 p.m. on other days.
- Admission costs $15
Missouri is proud of Gateway Arch National Park, rightly so, because it spells the United States’ past and might be a symbol for its future. This humble destination is rich in history, a place where Americans can be thankful – for the stories and the views.