Top Ten Tips for Visiting Gateway Arch National Park

Tips to help your visit go smoothly

Plan like a Park Ranger! Use these top tips to plan your visit to Gateway Arch National Park. 

Take the unique tram car ride to the top for a view of St. Louis and the Mississippi River like no other! 

This unique ride takes four-minutes from the base of the Arch to reach the observation deck at the top. If you are unable to ride to the top there are east and west views from web-cams at the top that can be observed live in the lobby of the visitor center or watch a Ranger led tour To the Top here.

During the busy summer months, the tram ride to the top does sell out frequently. Get your tickets ahead of time to make sure you get to experience this journey to the top. 

Not sure about that small tram car? Check out the replica tram car in the West Entrance lobby to make sure you will feel comfortable on your way up. It’s a 5-foot diameter barrel, the front has narrow doors that close with vertical windows and an enclosed curved back. The windows allow you to view the inside of the Arch as the tram travels up and down the leg. 


Take a load off and take in the views on a relaxing daytime cruise that shows St. Louis from the river that built it. Narrated by the captain or a National Park Service ranger, this one-hour cruise that lets you explore everything that makes the Mississippi so mighty. Everywhere you look, there’s a sight to see and history to discover.

All ages welcome. Concessions available.

COVID-19 Update: Park partner Bi-State which operates the Riverboats requires all Riverboat visitors, ages 9 & up, to wear face coverings with no exceptions. Guests unable to wear face coverings are encouraged to visit at a later date. View COVID-19 FAQ for more protocols.

Tickets available at the Bi-State park partner site. 

Wander through the new museum under the Gateway Arch!

Admission to the museum is free. Explore the six galleries detailing the role of St. Louis in the history of the west at your own pace. Take your time and visit all the galleries, enjoy all the tactile exhibits or just snap some photos at the selfie spots. 


Junior Ranger activities are designed to help connect young visitors and the young of heart to the park's resources and encourage them to become active stewards of their national parks. Ask for a Junior Ranger booklet at the Gateway Arch information desk. Complete the selected activities to receive your Junior Ranger badge.

Your pet is welcome at the park; just remember the B.A.R.K. Ranger principles as follows:
Bag your pet's waste
Always leash your pet
Respect wildlife
Know where you can go

Pets are allowed in all the outdoor areas of the park, but only service animals can go inside buildings. See the National Park Service policy on Service Animals.

Download the free Official NPS app to access self-guided tours, find things to do, and more! 

Approximately 14 miles from the Gateway Arch is U.S. Grant National Historic Site. This small historic site features the home Ulysses S. Grant shared with his wife Julia Dent, along with a visitor center, gift shop, theater, and museum.

Additional National Parks in Missouri include: George Washington Carver National Monument, Harry S. Truman National Historic Site, Ozark National Scenic Riverway, Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. See more information about these various national parks in Missouri.

It can get very hot in St. Louis, especially in the summer along with high humidity. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and wear sunscreen outdoors. You may want to bring a water bottle with you, just don't eat or drink while in the museum. Drinks are available inside at the Arch Cafe. Or take off your shoes and splash in the cooling shallow pool just outside the visitor center.  

The Gateway Arch grounds include many lovely spots to sit and rest awhile away from the bustle of the city. The areas around the ponds provide lovely views and the north pond has an accessible trail. As you walk around the paths around the Gateway Arch you will encounter wayside exhibit signs offering information about local history.

Don't forgot the North Gateway area - this natural ampitheater is the site of events thoughout the year, but also offers lush plantings and a breathtaking view of the Gateway Arch and city skyline. From the North Gateway area you can get up close to the historic Eads Bridge and cross over into Laclede's Landing.   

Keep an eye on the park's Event Calendar to find National Park Service events taking place on the grounds. 

Check out Explore St. Louis to learn more about all the many exciting places to visit in the city. Historic houses, museums, sports, parks, St. Louis has something for everyone. 
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Planning a trip to Gateway Arch National Park? Be sure to include time to visit the all-new museum--accessible for visitors of all abilities, ages, and interests. Check out our new Museum Destination video for a quick overview of what you'll find in each gallery. And don't forget--the museum is always free!

Gateway Arch National Park

Last updated: June 2, 2023