Article Summary: National Parks Near St. Louis
National Parks Near St. Louis. There’s so much more to the Midwest than Busch Stadium and the St. Louis Cardinals.
In this article, we’ll familiarize you with the incredible national parks that are within a day’s drive of downtown St. Louis.
St. Louis is known for the Gateway Arch, the tallest monument constructed in the United States at 630 feet (190 m). The Arch pays homage to Thomas Jefferson and St. Louis’s position as the gateway to the West.
Missouri is the “Show-Me” state. We’re going to show you 5 national park sites worth visiting that are within a day’s drive of St. Louis.
So, What Is A National Park?
We get asked that question a lot because there’s a difference between a “national park” and a “national park site.” To help you understand that difference you might want to check out our article titled: What Is A National Park Really?
If you’re planning at trip to St. Louis then one book which I highly recommend is: A Wandering Walk Guidebook: St. Louis, MO – Downtown by Tom Alyea.
Now let’s go ahead with 5 reasons why you’ll want to hop in your car and make a day’s drive from St. Louis to one of these truly amazing places.
Table Of Contents: National Parks Near St. Louis
National Parks Near St. Louis
- National Parks Near St. Louis
- More National Parks Near St. Louis
- National Parks Near St. Louis FAQ
- Meet The Parks Brothers
- Map Of National Parks Near St. Louis
- We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
National Parks Near St. Louis
1. George Washington Carver National Monument
Distance From St. Louis: 4 hours 9 minutes (282 miles) via I-44.
The George Washington Carver National Monument was established in 1943 to commemorate the life and work of botanist and inventor George Washington Carver.
Carver, born into slavery in the mid-19th century, rose to prominence as a scientist and agricultural researcher, developing innovative methods for crop rotation and soil conservation that helped farmers in the southern United States.
In 1916, he became the first African American to head a department at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he taught and conducted research for the rest of his life.
The monument, which is run by the National Park Service, includes a museum, hiking trails, and the restored birthplace cabin of Carver.
It was designated as a National Monument in 1940, making it the first National Monument dedicated to an African American and a former slave.
2. Harry S. Truman National Historic Site
Distance From St. Louis: 3 hours 35 minutes (241 miles) via I-70 W.
Harry S. Truman’s extraordinary life and career impacted not only America, but the entire world. This is a man who went from being a Missouri judge to unleashing the nuclear age.
Truman left office as a very unpopular president, but–with the passage of time–his presidency has undergone a reevaluation. As a consequence, he has risen in national and international esteem.
He left his mark on foreign affairs by introducing a policy of containment. Containment meant finding ways, short of all-out war, to restrain Soviet aggression. This policy would be tested in Korea and elsewhere.
Truman also left his mark in domestic affairs. On July 26, 1948, President Truman issued Executive Order 9981. This order abolished racial discrimination in the U.S. Armed Forces. For the first time, the unfair and unjust policy of “separate but equal” was challenged by the U.S. Government.
He also protected the New Deal, enlarged Social Security, and banned discrimination in federal hiring practices. Another executive order issued by Truman made it illegal to discriminate against persons applying for civil service positions based on race.
A National Historic Site Worth Seeing
You can learn more about this remarkable leader by visiting the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site. This site is made up of five houses in Independence and Grandview, Missouri. It features locations that are important during the years before and after Truman lived in the White House.
Visitors can tour the original Truman home and follow in his footsteps with a walking tour of Truman’s neighborhood. They can also visit the family farm in Grandview, explore exhibits about his private life in his cousin Noland’s house and examine oral histories from people who knew him well.
Also in Independence, Missouri, is the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum. There visitors can learn about all things relating to Truman and his presidency.
More National Parks Near St. Louis
3. Gateway Arch National Park
Distance From St. Louis: It’s in St. Louis!
If Missourians were asked to identify one symbol which represents their state, many would likely choose the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. This arch symbolizes Missouri’s important role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century.
At a mere 91 acres, Gateway Arch National Park is the smallest national park in America. The arch represents the jumping-off point of 19th century America’s age of westward exploration. From the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase to Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery and the subsequent westward expansion of the North American continent, it is the doorway to America’s “manifest destiny.”
Before becoming a flagship national park in 2018, the Gateway Arch Visitor Center underwent a $380 million dollar renovation. That’s right! $380 million dollars!
Totaling more than 150,000 square feet, it’s accessed by a semi-circular entryway that is accentuated by the site’s curving geometry. The lobby is actually dug into a berm and organized around a circle of water. An artistic masterpiece!
4. Ozark National Scenic Riverways
Distance From St. Louis: 2 hours 34 minutes (144 miles) via I-55 S.
It’s worth pointing out that Ozark National Scenic Riverways is the first national park area to protect a river system. There are two rivers which provide opportunities for visitors to go canoeing, fishing, swimming, and tubing.
It’s also a national park where there’s hiking and hunting. Hunting is allowed within the Riverways’ boundaries, except around developed areas.
If it’s the flora and the fauna you’ve come to see then you’ll be pleased to know that, according to the National Park Service: “There are 112 species of fish, 197 species of birds, and 58 species of mammals found in the park.
There are also 26 species of amphibians and 46 species of reptiles found in the park area, including four venomous snakes. The park is home to approximately 1,000 plant species.”
5. Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
Distance From St. Louis: 19 minutes (13 miles) via I-55 S.
Like George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant’s greatest service to his country may have been as a general rather than a president. Most historians agree that Grant was the savior the Union needed as it wrestled with the difficult challenge of subduing the South and bringing an end to the Civil War.
While other Union Generals allowed Robert E. Lee to dictate their actions on the battlefield, Grant pursued his opponents with a single-mindedness of purpose. He did this no matter who his opponent was. His bulldog tenacity and brilliant strategy broke the back of the Army of Northern Virginia thus bringing an end to the nation’s bloodiest conflict.
General Grant Versus President Grant
President Grant does not receive as high marks as General Grant from most historians. Overlooked by the scandals which rocked his administration, however, was his landmark Civil Rights Act, which ended separation in public accommodations and more.
Also overlooked were his relentless and successful efforts to root out the Klu Klux Klan and protect the political rights of African Americans in the South. Those rights were taken from them by the imposition of Jim Crow Laws, but this did not happen on Grant’s watch.
Visitors to the site have the opportunity to see a film on Grant’s life, tour a museum featuring exhibits which outline his achievements and tour the grounds where he lived. I would recommend beginning your tour by watching the 22-minute orientation film.
The museum is located in a horse stable designed by Ulysses S. Grant and completed in 1872. It’s totally self-guided so feel free to take your time while exploring the museum’s six permanent exhibits.
CHECK OUT: 10 BEST Civil War Sites In America
National Parks Near St. Louis FAQ
Gateway Arch National Park is an American national park located in St. Louis, Missouri, near the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
There are 6 national parks in Missouri and they are:
George Washington Carver National Monument
Harry S. Truman National Historic Site
Gateway Arch National Park
Ozark National Scenic Riverways
Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
The distance between St Louis and Field of Dreams is 273 miles. The road distance is 358.8 miles. How do I travel from St Louis to Field of Dreams without a car? The best way to get from St Louis to Field of Dreams without a car is to train and bus which takes 11h 51m and costs $180 – $260.
Why Trust Us About National Parks Near St. Louis?
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. We’ve spent our entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, USDA, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
Map Of National Parks Near St. Louis
List Of St. Louis National Park Sites
- George Washington Carver National Monument
- Harry S. Truman National Historic Site
- Gateway Arch National Park
- Ozark National Scenic Riverways
- Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then sign up below!