The Newest and smallest of all national parks, Gateway Arch National Park, is claimed to fame by a Gateway Arch, established to commemorate Thomas Jefferson’s vision of transcontinental America.
In spite of not being a national park that has mountain trails, wildlife, scenic views, etc., this park is quite popular.
And according to Morethanjustparks, the total number of visitors to the Gateway Arch National Park will increase to 1.15 million in 2021.
In this guide, we’ll cover the best time to visit Gateway Arch National Park, including the Park’s history, the best things to do, where to stay, and other exciting information. Let’s get started!
|Park||Gateway Arch National Park|
|Things to do||Museum Visit, Church Visit, etc.|
|Hotels near Gateway Arch National Park||Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark|
|Camping Location||Multiple Locations|
Where Is Gateway Arch National Park?
Gateway Arch National Park is located in St. Louis, Missouri, near the fixed point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
You can visit this monument from the west entrance facing Fourth Street and the Old Courthouse.
You can also take a flight to St. Louis (STL) Airport (12.8 miles), which is in the closest proximity to the Gateway Arch National Park. Or you can reach the national park from other parks, including Marion, Quincy, Columbia, etc.
About Gateway Arch National Park
This Park, formerly known as Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, is one of the unique national parks in the United States.
This Park doesn’t encompass huge lakes, mountains, hiking trails, or protected resources; instead, it’s located in the urban setting with an artificial object as its main attraction.
It consists of the Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse, where the Dred Scott case was heard.
A lot of of visitors come to the Park each year to see the impressive architecture of the Park, learn about its history, and enjoy other fun activities.
Gateway Arch National Park | Travel Guide
History Of Gateway Arch National Park
Ever since the construction of Missouri’s Gateway Arch began, it has been many things:
First, a monument to Thomas Jefferson’s Historic frontier, a Commemoration of Lewis and Clark’s epic expedition, and most recently, a national park.
In the 1930s, the United States government began looking for an opposite memorial to commemorate the accomplishments of 19th-century westward pioneers and celebrate the city’s role as the Gateway to the West.
A finished Architect named “Eero Saarinen” created a design for the Gateway Arch that was chosen as a perfect monument in the spirit of western pioneers.
The construction of Arch began in 1963 and got finished in 1965, followed by landscape construction followed for more than a decade.
In 1976, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places 1976 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
Before it became a national park, it was named “Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.”
The Park became an official National Park in 2018 and changed its name to Gateway Arch National Park.
Things To Do In Gateway Arch National Park
This Park is where you’ll be spending most of your time indoors, so feel free to leave your hiking shoes at home.
Let’s look at some of the best things to do in the Park:
Gateway Arch is an iconic landmark in St. Louis that embodies the adventurous spirit of America.
It’s the tallest Arch globally and the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, standing 630 feet tall.
The Arch was designed by the Finnish American Architect Eero Saarinen in 1947 as a memorial to Thomas Jefferson for his role in opening the West.
A tram ride takes visitors to the top of the Arch, where you can enjoy the birds-eye view of St. Louis, Mississippi River, and Illinois to the East.
Great Arch Museum
The Gateway Arch Museum is a great place to learn about the Park’s history and the construction of the Arch.
This beautifully laid out and interactive museum located inside Visitor Center is dedicated to telling the story of America’s pioneering spirit and the United States’ westward expansion.
The exhibits span from 1764 to 1965 and include Colonial St. Louis, Jefferson’s Vision, the new frontiers, and the story of each Arch itself.
The Old Courthouse is the oldest structure in St. Louis and one of the main highlights of the Park.
It was the site where the Dred Scott Case, one of the most significant cases involving slavery in the United States, was heard.
Though the original courtroom doesn’t exist anymore, several other courtrooms have much historical significance.
The interior of the Courthouse is vibrant and inspiring typical of that time.
Old Cathedral is one of the earliest historic buildings in St. Louis, with roots dating back to 1764.
The present structure is 165 years old and contains countless religious artifacts.
The cathedral has been designated as a national monument and still operates as an active church.
It is one of the most gorgeous churches with traditional candle lightings for prayer, which makes it look more divine.
Mississippi Riverboat Cruise
Embark upon once in a lifetime Mississippi River adventure with Mississippi Riverboat Cruise.
The company has been offering sightseeing and dinner cruises since 1917. Mississippi is one of the longest rivers in the world, and taking a cruise on it is a voyage into the heart of America.
You’ll float between St. Louis and Minneapolis as you enjoy the scenic views of river bluffs and experience wildlife.
Riverboat tours are offered from March through November in the most favorable weather.
Best Time To Visit
The Park to good to visit any time of the year as the weather is pretty pleasant and tolerable all year round, but winter is the best time to visit the Park as the weather is mild, crowds are light, and there are long queues for the trams.
Fall and summer are the high seasons with heavy groups, so if you’re visiting in these seasons, try to arrive early or come late to avoid crowds.
Map Of Gateway Arch National Park
Make sure to download the map of the Park showing all the highlights, directions, visitor centers for a leisurely self-guided tour.
Click here to download the PDF Map of the Park or visit NPS Website.
Thanks to its municipal location, the Park has no off-site camping option.
However, there bunch of RV campgrounds in the St. Louis area, including St. Louis RV Park, located just 2 miles away from the Gateway Arch, and Covered Bridge RV Park, located less than 30-min away from the Arch.
The weather in the Park is quite pleasant and tolerable year-round. Summers are humid and hot, while winters can be chilly with lows in the 20s.
Extreme cold weather is rare, and the temperature is lower than 32°F. For most of the year, any season is excellent for visiting the Park.
But still, make sure to check the current weather before planning the trip.
Read: Olympic National Park
Best Hotels Near Gateway Arch National Park
There are tons of accommodations near the the Park ranging from upscale to budget-friendly to suit different needs and budgets. Here are a few highest-rated hotels to choose from:
- Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch
- Courtyard St. Louis Downtown
- Hampton Inn & Suites St. Louis at Forest Park
- Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark
- Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis
Entry Fee & Passes
This Park has an entrance fee of $3.00 for visitors over 15 years of age and older. There are additional fees charges for tram rides and Riverboat cruises.
To view the ticket prices or buy tickets online, click here.
Checklist Of Things To Bring
Here’s a list of basics you should pack before venturing into this Park:
- Large Day Backpack
- Waterproof & breathable clothes
- Tent & Sleeping bag
- Sturdy Hiking boots
- Trekking Poles
- Waterproof shoes
- Sun-shielding hat
- Water and food
- Extra batteries
- First-aid kit
- Map & Compass
How much time should I spend in Gateway Arch National Park?
One day is more than enough to visit the museum, take the tram to the top of the Arch, walk to the old Courthouse and take a riverboat tour.
Is there a weight limit to ride the tram to Gateway
No, there’s no weight, height, or age limits to ride the tram, and it can hold 40 passengers.
What is special about Gateway Arch National Park?
The Park serves as a memorial to Thomas Jefferson for his role in opening the door to the West, to pioneers who played a massive role in shaping its history, and to Dred Scott, who fought for his freedom.
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