About the Ride to the Top
How big is the tram car?
Each tram consists of eight capsules (aka tram cars) that have clear doors on the front and are closed on the back. Each tram car has a five-foot diameter. There are five seats in each car. Visitors with claustrophobia issues (or visitors who simply want to take souvenir pictures) are invited to sit in the replica tram car by the ticketing counter before purchasing tickets.
Can wheelchair users ride to the top?
The Tram Ride to the Top of the Gateway Arch is not fully accessible for guests with mobility impairments, as no wheelchairs, scooters or strollers are permitted on the Observation Deck. To reach the top and return, you must be able to manage at least 96 steps, divided into six flights, and you may need to stand for 30–60 minutes. No seating or restrooms are located at the top of the Arch. Learn more about accessibility at the park.
How big is the viewing area at the top?
The viewing area at the top can hold up to 160 people when at full capacity. There are 16 windows on each side of the viewing area. Each window is 7 x 27 inches.
How long can we stay at the top?
Visitors have one tram cycle at the top of the arch before riding back down. This works out to approximately 7-9 minutes at the top. The approximate time of a complete tour to the top is 45 minutes. The last tram of the day goes up approximately an hour before closing time.
Do we go back down the same side we came up?
Yes, you return on the same tram you rode up in. Listen to the park ranger and tour guides at the top, as they will make an announcement when it is time to board.
Are the north and south trams the same?
The trams are the same. On slower days, we may only operate one tram. On busier days, one tram is normally reservable in advance and one is same-day first-come-first-serve. The view is the same from either side, and visitors on both sides get the same amount of time at the top.
Can we walk down the stairs?
There are 1076 steps in the stairways of each leg, and they are used by maintenance and emergency personnel only.
Is the Arch moving?
The Arch is designed to sway as much as 18 inches in 150 mile per hour winds and it can withstand an earthquake; however, under normal conditions the Arch does not sway. It takes a 50-mile an hour wind to move the top 1 1/2 inches each side of center.
Are there weather constraints on the tram operation?
The tram ride to the top operates rain or shine. The arch has weathered countless severe midwest thunderstorms and is able to operate normally in all but the most severe weather. During tornado warnings, the tram rides to the top will be cancelled as a precaution. The tram rides may also be shut down if it is swaying so much visitors are having a hard time keeping their balance. This happens very infrequently.
Why are the windows so small?
Over 500 tons of pressure was used to jack the legs of the Arch apart for the last four-foot piece to be inserted at the top. A larger window would not withstand that pressure.
How many people can go to the top each day?
During the summer season, as many as 80 trips a day on each tram can go to the top. When operating at full capacity, forty tickets are sold for each trip, so 6400 people can visit the top each day. During the winter season there are only 48 trips to the top each day on each tram.
How far can you see in either direction at the top?
On a clear day the view at the top can extend up to thirty miles in either direction, however, St. Louis can be a very hazy city which reduces visibility at the top. On cool, damp mornings a dense fog can create zero visibility at the top. Check out the Gateway Arch Park Foundation's webcams to see what the view from the top is like today!
Which side is Missouri and which is Illinois?
The Missouri side of the river is to the west and includes downtown St. Louis. The Illinois side of the river is to the east and includes the vast industrial complexes of East St. Louis.
Why are Park Rangers at the top and do they work there all day?
Park Rangers are assigned to the top to assist visitors in boarding and unloading, provide for the safety of the visitor, and most importantly to answer visitor questions at the top. The Rangers work a single, two-hour shift at the top on a given day.