Missouri – Visited June 2018 (28 out of 61)
This is no National Park
Where did the idea to re-designate this place a National Park originate? If you read online boards and blogs, there are multiple conspiracy theories. Was it designated as predictor of reduced federal protection for public lands in the west? Is it part of a new westward expansion? Is it Trump favoritism to increase property values in the vicinity?
Gateway Arch doesn’t meet the characteristic qualities of any other National Park. Within the National Park System, there are 19 naming designations such as: historical parks; historic sites; national monuments; and national recreation areas. Many of these would have been substantially more fitting. The area comprising Gateway Arch National Park is a pittance at 0.8 km². Out of the 60 other National Parks, the average area they encompass is 3,400 km². The second smallest, Hot Springs in Arkansas, still dwarfs this park at 22.5 km² (Wikipedia 2019).
At this park, there are no special geologic or archaeological features. There are no unique habitats or ecological systems that need protection. There is a man-made arch, a small park, and an underground museum. It is set in an industrialized area of St. Louis, MO along the Mississippi River. The river bank adjacent the park area is bricked, and appears quite lifeless. It serves as the slanted parking lot for vehicles too large to fit in the parking garage. The river water shimmers with oil sheen and loud barges pass. A sign and dock beckon a ride on a riverboat, its white wheel still trying to hopelessly recollect days more pleasant along this lofty river.
Still we went. There is history to be learned here, but I think the summation of this experience is what we don’t want. It reflects what we really want to see when we venture to a National Park: natural arches, natural caves, natural rainbows, natural river banks – NATURE. Kids will learn a few things, they will enjoy the arch, like they enjoy an amusement park ride.
Remember: Be aware, this isn’t a place to pull your RV especially if you aren’t used to driving in traffic or dense population. If you are trying to get to all National Parks, you have another place to add to your list, but go with a different perspective on what you will be experiencing. Go, and then write your politicians to demand protection for our WILD spaces.
Junior Ranger Badge:
- Arch Design
- History of Westward Expansion
Things to Do Nearby:
- Old Courthouse
- Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site