Gateway Arch National Park - America's Amazing Arch and Other Gateway Glories

4.85 stars

Gateway Arch National Park Takeaway. America's Amazing Arch and Other Gateway Glories. Check this one off your St. Louis bucket list. Two parts to the park.

Part 1 - Great park below The Arch for a family picnic or an adult walk. No playground equipment means you need to bring a ball, frisbee, or some outside entertainment for kids. Adults can take a long walk around the park.

Part 2 - $71 for a family of four to go to the top of the arch. A free museum below the Arch to take in the history without paying. The line + background + ride + view takes about one hour. Buy tickets ahead of time online. Pro Tip: Ask to be in a lower number group. You'll get an extra five minutes at the top in group 1 vs group 8. You also need to be able to walk up a flight or two of stairs.

You can park for free on the weekends if you get there early, but expect to drive around for five or ten minutes. You can reserve parking ahead of time for $10 with validation. Can cost more otherwise. I've parked on the street or in a lot around 4th and Pine the four or five times we've gone.

Table Of Contents: Overview | Exhibits | Details & Info

Gateway Arch National Park full arch from base


  • 11 North 4th Street St. Louis, Missouri 63102
  • (877) 982-1410
  • Website
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Monday5 AM–11 PM
Tuesday5 AM–11 PM
Wednesday5 AM–11 PM
Thursday5 AM–11 PM
Friday5 AM–11 PM
Saturday5 AM–11 PM
Sunday5 AM–11 PM


Gateway Arch National Park Summary

My dad asked to go to the Arch during his next visit, so when came this weekend, we went.

He picked the perfect day to visit. A beautiful, windy March Sunday in the 70s; you couldn't ask for more.

Gateway Arch National Park Signage

The Gateway Arch National Park really has two distinct parts:

In terms of "everything else," we visited the Gateway Arch National Park several times before and stuck to the activities at ground level. Those activities include:

Gateway Arch National Park Walk Way

All those activities add up to a ton of fun and let you kill an hour or two. I recommend you bring something like a frisbee or tennis ball to keep the kids entertained, but you can make a morning of it.

At a high level, adults will enjoy that type of experience more than kids. The walking trails meander around ponds and run parallel to the river. They don't include any playgrounds or purpose-built children's structures.

Gateway Arch National Park full arch through trees

And then there's taking a trip to the top of the Arch.

This trip marked the first time we ventured up the arch itself. As soon as I got to the top, I realized three things:

Gateway Arch National Park Up The Arch

If you can swing the $71 for a family of four to go to the top, and this will be your only visit to St. Louis, go for it. You'll get an excellent view of the city and the experience of entering a five-person half elevator half escalator Ferris wheel tram car. If you live here, wait for a family member or friend who wants to try it and use your one-time token up the Arch with them.

That way, you can check it off your St. Louis bucket list and make yourself 5% more St. Louisian in the process.

I'm guessing I'll end up back at the top for a kid's field trip eventually, but I won't plan on going up again without an external reason.

Gateway Arch National Park Field Selfie

Gateway Arch National Park Things To Do

I'll start 630 feet up the air and work my way down.

Taking A Ride To The Top Of The Arch

Step one is to buy tickets ahead of time. I got lucky. My buddies at the CITY game the night before told me to buy tickets online ahead of time so you know when you can go up. The first available ride wasn't until 11:40 am, and we planned on getting there at 9 am.

Gateway Arch National Park Receipt

That piece of advice saved us. So buy tickets ahead of time

The whole process of getting through security, walking through the museum, and taking the ride up took about 1:30. Even with our 11:40 tickets, we had to wait for two tram cycles before we could go up, so that was ~20 minutes in line.

Gateway Arch National Park Tram Tickets Gateway Arch National Park Tram Tickets Back

When you reach the front of the line, they give your group a tram car ticket. We were in car 6 of 8. Pro Tip: Ask to be in a lower number group. You'll get an extra five minutes at the top in group 1 vs group 8.

They then show you a five-minute history of the Arch, followed by a quick novelty picture session.

Gateway Arch National Park Line

The tour guide then leads you down a flight of stairs to the boarding area. You'll find your tram number above your door. The pods you enter seat five people and are maybe five feet tall. We learned the whole system combines the engineering of an elevator, escalator, and Ferris wheel.

Gateway Arch National Park Loading Zone

It definitely gives the vibe of entering a 1960's 1960s-style rocketship cabin.

Gateway Arch National Park Elevator Door

The ride up took 3 minutes and 51 seconds. At a blazing 3 miles per hour, you can see the emergency stairs out the elevator door, which, for some reason, instantly calms any sense of pending doom you (i) might experience. It's not the smoothest elevator ride of all time, but my four-year-old "quite enjoyed it."

Gateway Arch National Park Ride Timing

At the top, you exit into a little flight of stairs that takes you up to the observation deck.

Gateway Arch National Park Top Loading Zone

And it's at this point you'll notice the follow swaying like you're on the poop deck of a boat. It's a good couple of feet back and forth with each gust of wind. Again, my four-year-old summed it up with, "Wow, this is wibbly-wobbly."

Gateway Arch National Park observation tower Gateway Arch National Park observation selfie

You get a great view of St. Louis to the West and a view of the Mississippi and a bunch of nothing to the East.

After the tram makes a full rotation down and back, about ten minutes or so, you board back in your car for the 3-minute and 12-second ride back down.

You really put your trust in humanity when you take a ride like that.

Gateway Arch National Park observation selfie

The 630 Feet Span Below The Arch

We spent another thirty minutes below the Arch on this visit before we went up. But, like I said, if you bring a ball, frisbee, and picnic stuff, you could spend one or two hours hanging out in Gateway Park.

My favorite parts of the park are:

Gateway Arch National Park Courthouse

Standing on top of the hill that looks West towards the courthouse gives you a great picture of downtown. We usually set up shop on the hill when stay to play. A big open field runs from that point down to the steps past the Arch.

Gateway Arch National Park Between the Arch

As you walk down the hill, you'll come to Arch. Ethier because of the Arch or proximity to the water. It gets really windy down there. Hold on to your hat as you go to touch it. Mine blew away.

Gateway Arch National Park touch the arch

Then, continue walking to the big stairs that take you down to the Mississippi River. We typically stop at the top step to watch helicopters take off. You'll also see the riverboat that offers tours.

Gateway Arch National Park Courthouse

Gateway Arch National Park Details And Info

The size of the Arch always impresses me. Its massive shadow looms overhead like a foreboding omen of protection. You don't really appreciate it until you stand underneath it.

Gateway Arch National Park arch shadow

On this trip, I learned about the free museum under the hill. For some reason, I had assumed you needed to buy a ticket to get into the museum and ride, but the museum is free.

Gateway Arch National Park Museum Entrance

We ran through it to make the tram, but from what I could tell, it gives you the history and science behind the Arch. It includes videos from the time accompanied by explanations of the engineering behind it.

Gateway Arch National Park museum

You need to pass through security to get into the main museum, but they have an example pod displayed right when you walk in before security. If you don't want to take the ride up, you can at least get a feel for what the roughly 7 minutes of tram car time would feel like.

Gateway Arch National Park example pod

Gateway Arch National Parking

Finding free parking can be difficult. I've had luck getting there before 11 am on weekends and parking somewhere on 4th Street or a cross street off 4th Street. It might take driving around for five to ten minutes to find a spot. One time, we did have to park about a ten-minute walk away for free parking.

Gateway Arch National Park parking

I've parked in a paid lot for less than $10, and you can pre-reserve parking with your ride up the arch for $10 with validation.

Gateway Arch National Park parking arch

Gateway Arch National Park Receipt

Gateway Arch National Park touch the arch close

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