No doubt, this visit has been one of the touristic highlights of my Pittsburgh Penguins chasing trip in March 2022. On the eighth day of the trip, I reached Central St. Louis – and the very first place I visited was the Gateway Arch. The 192 steel monument is one of the most iconic constructions in the United States, constructed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen in 1947 and opened to public in 1967. Here is my review.
Gateway Arch – Location & Admission
The Gateway Arch and the Gateway Arch National Park are located right at Mississippi River. You can reach the area by the two metro lines operating in St. Louis, exiting at the Convention Center station. The city center also has quite a huge number of parking garages. I used the official parking garage, which offered an early bird fee during my visit. I kept the car there for some other attractions, especially the Busch Stadium Tour I did after visiting the arch.
The national park as such does not charge you. You can also visit the Museum at the Gateway Arch for free. Only the ride up the arch is subject to an admission. Depending on the date of your visit, an adult ticket is between 15 and 19 USD, tax including. However, the arch is charging you 3 USD Convenience Fee on top of your transaction. Even in low season, I would not recommend to try to grab a ticket on the day – you likely will end up in front of a Sold out sign at the cashier desk.
You receive a time slot of arrival, I still had to wait quite a bit of time until I finally had the ride up. There are two “trams” up the arch, a North one and a South one. My visit was during Covid restrictions, so that just one tram operated, took you up, brought people down and with the next rotation you went down again. This sequence may change under “normal” operation. Tickets for the Gateway Arch are available for slots between 9:00 and 18:00, daily.
Gateway Arch – The Visit
Before you visit the arch itself, you first have to pass airport-alike securities and see some general exhibits and displays about the monument. You are also introduced into how the Gateway Arch has been constructed and how it is working.
Next to the cashier area, there are – in general – two lines, one for the North Tram and one for the South Tram. As said, only one has been operating during my visit. You also receive a “Boarding pass”, which later determines with car of the tram you will be taking. A car can in theory bring up to five people on the top – during my visit, they did not mix parties though. The cabins are rather narrow, but somehow cool. The wording Tram and cars/wagons is a bit of misleading as in fact the arch is rather operating like a stack of elevator cabins.
On Top of the Arch
Once you reached the top, you are at 630 feet or 192m above ground. There are windows on both sides of the arch, i.e. facing East towards Mississippi and West towards city center, but you only have very limited potential to see North or South through the narrow windows. The view in the morning is beautiful, though, as you see. In the morning, the shadow of the arch is on the city center side, which adds a nice touch for photos.
Gateway Arch – Service
Right at the cashier area, where you split into the North Tram and South Tram queue, there are also several services. The key one is of course a souvenir store – but there is also the Arch Cafe for refreshments. The staff in the building was very helpful and friendly.
Gateway Arch – My View
Visiting the Gateway Arch is memorable. To me, it was rather the funny tram ride up and down in the capsule-like cars than the visit on top itself which made me love my visit. You have to say that the view to the East is not too attractive. The city-bound view is nice, though. Still, it is really iconic to get up there – unfortunately, I feel it could be significantly more crowded in post-pandemic times. But finally, it is too impressive to be bad.
Views from Above (USA)
Ferris Wheels, observation decks and more- related to the USA:
Here are all postings related to the US-American city of St. Louis: