Saturday, January 6, 2024

Visiting the St. Louis Arch - Gateway Arch - 2023/11/15

Continuing our Tesla road trip across the country, we are finally getting to see something up close that we've been wanting to see since we started. 

The St. Louis Arch! Or as it's also known, the Gateway Arch!

We spent the night in a very close hotel, and before checking out, popped over to the Gateway Arch National Park!

Wait. Gateway Arch National Park? National Park? This is more like a National Monument, similar to the Statue of Liberty. 
In 2017, a senator from Missouri introduced a bill to rename the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial as Gateway Arch National Park. The Director of the National Park Service testified that it SHOULD be a National Monument, not a National Park, stating that National Parks typically consisted on thousands of acres at a minimum. However, in 2018 the bill was passed and Gateway Arch National Park (all 90.9 acres of it) was born. The rename was largely seen as a scheme to increase tourism.  

There's the National Park logo now on the entrance carpet. 

After making it through security, consisting of a baggage scan and metal detectors, we headed down to the lower levels of the monument. 

Standing on a giant map of America. 

We've got reservations for the 11:15am tram up to the top of the arch. $15 per adult and $11 per kid. 

I guess during busy periods, both the North and South legs of the Arch can ferry passengers to the top. Today must not be too busy, with just the South leg running. 

As we lined up with fellow passengers, we were placed in groups. Our group of 4 was fine, but some smaller groups of 2s and 1s were merged together. 

We watched a brief history of the completion of the Arch. 

Then it was time to head up ourselves! Each group got their own door. 

And their own pod with 5 seats. 

Tight quarters on the way up. After we started moving, Theresa had us do a shuffle so she could face forward. The elevators to the top have to be able to move not just up, but also at an angle. That's why they're suspended from the top, almost like a ferris wheel. 

Through our little window we can see the maintenance areas inside the arch on the way up. 

And some staircases that are used for emergencies. Wish we could go on some of these on the way down. 

Finally we arrived at the top of the arch! As we exited our pod, another group was waiting to get in for their trip down. The bummer is that we're only given 10 minutes at the top, then it's time to move along for the next group. 

There's tiny little windows to look through once you've arrived at the top. 

Looking east towards the Mississippi River and into Illinois. 

Then over to the West facing side. 

Looking towards Busch Stadium where the St. Louis Cardinals play baseball. 

And down towards the Old Courthouse, which is undergoing renovation. Our hotel, the brown building to the right, is closer even than the courthouse!

630 feet at the top of the Arch!

Looking straight down we can see a few of the relaxing "parks" that are covered here. 

All too soon, the worker called that our 10 minutes was up. We shuffled over to our corresponding pod, but no one came out! Does that mean we can stay and have another 10 minutes? No, no it doesn't. 

Down the tram we went for the next group to load up. 

When we entered earlier, the kids got a Junior Ranger booklet to earn a Ranger Badge for the smallest National Park. Underneath the Arch is a new museum that talks about the expansion west. St. Louis was the starting point for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The museum was broken into 6 different sections showing Colonial St. Louis, Jefferson's Vision, Manifest Destiny, The Riverfront Era, New Frontiers, and Building the Arch
Looking at some of the "Peace Medals" presented to the Native American tribes. 

We saw so many of these bison in Yellowstone last year

Part of their Junior Ranger book had them finding "characters" from this diorama. Most were easy, but every few minutes, the lights in this section would turn off, making it impossible to distinguish features on the 0.5" people that were yards away. 

An interesting carved wall depicting people who were instrumental to the building of the 630' Gateway Arch. 

The carving also shows other national monuments and natural features along with the heights of them. 
Coast Redwoods (350'), Giant Sequoia (310'), Statue of Liberty (305'), Rainbow Bridge (290'), The White House (60'). 

Old Faithful (165'), Independence Hall (170'), Mount Rushmore (465'), U.S.S. Constitution (200'), Washington Monument (555'). 

The kids earning another Junior Ranger Badge! Congratulations Alli and Ian!
We also found out that there were two more badges that could be earned while we were here. A Lewis and Clark badge, plus an Old Courthouse badge. Both could be completed without leaving the museum. 

So, while Theresa headed back to the hotel to get the room packed up, the kids and I knocked out a couple more Junior Ranger booklets and earned two more badges! 

Sweet! Two wooden ones for the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and Gateway Arch National Park, plus a plastic one from the Gateway Arch National Park Old Courthouse. 

It's been a fun trip! Now, the final push to get to Colorado!

1 comment:

  1. Very nice work, Ian & Alli, on getting not just one but THREE Junior Ranger badges in that one short're learning and seeing so many new things in the many National Parks...keep up the good work! Some wonderful pictures of the Arch from the outside (and the opening family shot w/ the Arch and Sun) and inside...great views from 630' above ground (that's pretty high up!)...10 minutes is barely enough time to look out just one of the windows from the top!...seeing the inside of the Arch as your pod is traveling up is an interesting view, too (the "behind-the-scenes" view). Visiting the Gateway Arch was another highlight of this drive to Colorado. EOM