Exploring Your Urban National Park
Independence National Historical Park. Statue of Liberty National Monument. Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Gateway Arch National Park. What do these places have in common? They are all sites within the National Park System that are located in an urban area.
While the National Park System is comprised of more than 400 sites, at a little over 90 acres, Gateway Arch National Park is the smallest designated “national park.” But don’t let the acreage fool you. The park is truly an urban oasis in downtown St. Louis. According to the National Park Service, the landscape design for the park, created by Dan Kiley, one of the country’s leading contemporary landscape architects, “reflects the curvilinear nature of the structure. Kiley applied geometrical precepts and classical landscape design elements to create a setting that is both spectacularly and subtly appropriate. The scale, impact, and design of the grounds constitute an essential mooring for the world-famous Arch and merge the Arch and its grounds, with one reflecting the other.”
The grounds feature pathways for walking, jogging or cycling; ponds that provide areas for picnicking or relaxation; as well as the North Gateway, which includes a natural amphitheater and the Lewis and Clark Explorers’ Garden, an area for kids to play. The grounds are also home to diverse plant life that includes native species as well as historical panels that detail historical events, people and places that have connections to the park land.
This summer, take a morning or afternoon to explore and enjoy the Gateway Arch park grounds! They are open to the public and dog friendly – so bring your furry four-legged friend too!