RV travel is more than camping at RV resorts, or parks. It is a great way to travel around America and see some of its iconic sites. Therefore, as we traveled home from Yellowstone National Park we decided to spend a few days in St. Louis and enjoy the iconic Gateway Arch National Park.
Most of our National Park posts include campground reviews of the places we stayed. Unfortunately, the place we stayed while in St. Louis is no longer open. However, there are a number of RV parks close to the St. Louis area.
We were surprised to learn that there is a number of great things to do here. Of course, you can ride to the top of the arch. In addition, make sure to visit the Old Courthouse, and take a scenic walk along the Mississippi River.
Gateway Arch National Park Location
The Gateway Arch National Park is located in the heart of downtown St. Louis on the Mississippi River. Interstate Routes 44, 55, 64, and 70 all converge near the park. Once you enter St. Louis you can’t miss the Arch in the skyline. The National Park Service website has exact directions if needed.
National Park Historic Facts
- Gateway Arch is the nation’s smallest national park with only 91 acres
- At 630 feet tall it is also the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere
- The Gateway Arch was completed on October 28, 1965
- Designated as the “Gateway Arch National Park” on February 22, 2018
- The National Park reflects St. Louis’ role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century.
- It is a memorial to Thomas Jefferson’s role in opening the West, to the pioneers who helped shape its history, and to Dred Scott who sued for his freedom in the Old Courthouse.
- The stainless-steel-faced Arch spans 630 feet between the outer faces of its triangular legs at ground level, and its top soars 630 feet into the sky.
Best Things To Do At Gateway Arch N.P.
Explore the Museum & Visitor Center Under the Gateway Arch
The museum at the Gateway Arch is located underground beneath the Arch. It features a grand entrance facing Luther Ely Smith Square and the Historic Old Courthouse.
The underground Visitor’s Center museum features 6 themed exhibits highlighting 200 years of the area’s history from 1764-to 1965. It includes interactive story galleries that guide visitors through time from the founding of St. Louis in 1764 to the building of the Gateway Arch, completed in 1965. The new museum describes the westward expansion period of the United States with more perspectives from the cultures involved.
Be sure to also stop by the National Park Service visitor center and pick up a Jr Ranger program activity book. These activities are a great way to learn all about the Gateway Arch, and the Old Courthouse.
Ride the Tram to the Top of the Gateway Arch
Of course, you can’t visit the Gateway Arch without taking the tram ride to the top of the Arch.
However, there are a few things you should know before taking the ride to the top.
We highly recommend making reservations ahead of time for the tram tour. During the busy summer months, the tram tickets sell out well in advance. Some same-day tickets are available first-come, first-served. However, we wouldn’t recommend taking the risk. You should also try to book a time about 60 minutes or so after your planned arrival time. This will allow enough time to go through security checkpoints, watch the park film, and walk through some of the exhibits before you go up the tram ride.
You are first shown a brief movie on the history of westward expansion and the Mississippi River, before the skinny doors open, revealing bright-white orbs behind each.
Each elevator orb can sit up to five people. You will enter the orb through a small rectangular opening.
The ride to the top of the arch takes about 4 minutes. Once you get up there you can find a viewing window, and enjoy the view. Park rangers are stationed at the top to answer questions and are very knowledgeable.
Taking a trip up the Arch is definitely worth it. Even if it is just to check it off your bucket list.
Explore the Old Courthouse
This National Park also protects the Old St. Louis Courthouse.
This historic courthouse was the site of the first two trials of the pivotal Dred Scott case in 1847 and 1850. This is one of the most important cases ever tried in the United States and was a decision that would help change the history of our country. It was also where Virginia Minor’s case for a woman’s right to vote came to trial in the 1870s.
You can tour this historic structure and visit the restored courtrooms to learn more about our 19th-century judicial system.
We were able to visit the Gateway Arch National Park all in one afternoon.
The museum was large and had some great information. However, the kids lost interest rather quickly inside the museum. However, t was probably the anticipation of riding to the top of the Arch.
The view from the top was amazing. Allthough it was relatively crowded in the viewing area we had no problems. There were Park Rangers up there and helped move things along.
The courthouse was a great stop as well. However, it was a relatively quick tour.
We highly recommend adding this National Park to your list of places to see while traveling the country.
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Have you visited the Gateway Atch National Park? How was your experience? Do you have any tips for RVing in the St. Louis area?