What to explore in Missouri’s Lone National Park


Missouri’s Gateway Arch National Park boasts two of the superlatives in the United States: the tallest monument in the smallest national park. It is an interesting destination because it symbolizes the expansion of the country in the 19th century. It may not be a wildlife site, but it is rich in history.

The arch has become an icon not only 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 created to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase, and its current site is the location of the first civilian government west of the Mississippi River. The park also includes the Old Courthouse, where the landmark case of Dred Scott v. Sandford was heard – a landmark decision seen as a stepping stone to civil war.

Gateway Arch National Park is a place to remember America’s colorful past – a place to commemorate the struggle for freedom and determination.

Plan the visit

As it is located in Saint-Louis, the park is easily accessible. Here are the opening hours of the facilities.

  • The park is open daily from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

  • There is a store and a cafe in the neighborhood.

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Activities in the park

Although the park is small, it is full of history. Visiting here is a satisfying learning experience.

Visit the arch and the old courthouse

The arch is the main attraction, and as such is the most visited in the park. Here are the tour options for an interesting visit:

For $15 to $19 tourists can take a tram to the top (63 floors) where they can see the expanse of the park and surrounding areas. The visit will last 45 to 60 minutes. There are also combo tours that involve cruises and film screenings. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in winter and until 8 p.m. in summer. There are no entrance fees.

the the museum features exhibits on the colonial era of St. Louis, Native Americans, Pioneers, Explorers, President Thomas Jefferson’s Vision, The Riparian Age and The Ark. The old courthouse is another landmark to visit. This is a grand building filled with civil rights history.

River cruise

The park is located along the Mississippi River, so one of the best ways to appreciate its views is to take a cruise.

The day cruise on the Saint-Louis River is ideal for discovering the sights of the city. It costs $24.

A dinner cruise costs $54 and will allow guests to enjoy the sights with live music and great food. Tourists who want to make their Sunday memorable can take the brunch cruise with live entertainment. It costs $51.

The Blues and Groove & Spin cruises cost $24 and will allow guests to enjoy music with great drinks. There’s also the Decked Out Divas, a cruise with a drag show to entertain guests as they drink in front of the river and park. It costs $24.

Guided Tours and Tucker Theater

The park is small, but it has rangers who will take guests on an interesting tour. They will share with them stories about the arch and the old courthouse. There is a lot to learn in this humble destination. Tourists can also spend $7 for a 35-minute viewing of the Monument of the Dream documentary at the Tucker Theater. This film will share with the guests the history of the park.

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Wildlife viewing

The park is in an urban center, but that doesn’t mean it lacks wildlife. Thanks to the nearby river, a few furry buddies and winged friends visit the park.

Bird watchers can sit in the park watching resident birds such as peregrine falcons, waterfowl, doves, blue jays, robins, mockingbirds, pigeons, and starlings. And during the summer, chimney swifts, wood pewees, swallows, mockingbirds and blackbirds frequent the area, while winter attracts gulls, sparrows and juncos. There is also a small population of mammals in the park, such as squirrels, opossums, raccoons, rabbits, groundhogs, and domestic cats. Monarch butterflies and the invasive emerald ash borer are also present in the park.

Plant species include ornamental turf, London sycamores, bald cypress, bluestems, switchgrass, prairie dripgrass, lateral oat grama, and anemones, among others. Besides the meadow, there are Zen Gardens and the Explorer’s Garden, where botanical enthusiasts can fill their journals with new entries.

Nearby Attractions

For those who can’t get enough of St. Louis, there are other attractions to visit after a historic trip to the park.

St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station takes tourists to the sea as it features galleries on sharks, rivers and oceans. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and until 8 p.m. on other days.

Admission is $25

There is no way to ride The St. Louis Wheel. This 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel offers patrons a 15-minute ride with stunning views of the city. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

  • The cost is $15 for adults and $10 for children

  • There are combined tickets with the aquarium.

Thrill seekers can keep busy taking on the challenges of the St. Louis Ropes Course. There are three floors of obstacles in this action-packed destination, giving guests their adrenaline fix. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and until 8 p.m. on other days.

Missouri is proud of Gateway Arch National Park, with good reason, because it symbolizes America’s past and could be a symbol of its future. This humble destination is rich in history, a place Americans can be grateful for – for the stories and the views.

the st.  louis arch, a waterfall in missouri

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