The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally a big day for shopping, so it may come as a surprise that's it's also the busiest day of the year for at least one NPS area. If you plan to visit the Gateway Arch in St. Louis this coming weekend, here's some information on extended hours and how to purchase advance tickets.
According to officials at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, this coming Friday, November 27, is expected to be the busiest of the year for the nation's tallest monument. The Gateway Arch in the park claims that height distinction; the Arch is 630 feet tall, which is also the distance from leg to leg at ground level.
Last year, over 7,500 people visited the Gateway Arch on the day after Thanksgiving. While that might not sound like a huge crowd in comparison to some other destinations, keep in mind that visitors who want to go to the observation room at the top of the Arch have to ride the tram.
Eighty tickets are sold for each tram trip (there's a "train" in both legs of the structure) and a round-trip takes about nine minutes. The viewing area at the top can hold up to 160 people, so on a typical summer day, about 6,400 people can make the trip to and from the observation area.
Shorter hours during the fall and winter mean fewer tram trips, so in anticipation of a busy day this coming weekend, the park is running on an extended schedule to accommodate more visitors. On Friday and Saturday, November 27 and 28, the Arch will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The park is closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving Day.
To help avoid long lines and possible ticket sellouts, visitors are encouraged to order tickets in advance at 877-982-1410 or www.gatewayarch.com for the “Journey to the Top” tram ride and for two movies show at the park: “Monument to the Dream” and “Lewis and Clark – Great Journey West.”
There are other things to see and do in the park in addition to the Arch. The Museum of Westward Expansion preserves some of the rarest artifacts from the days of Lewis and Clark, and exhibits allow visitors to explore the world of the American Indians and the 19th century pioneers who helped shape the history of the American West.
The Old Courthouse will unveil Victorian holiday decorations and kick off the holiday season with appearances by local performers, and will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 27, and Saturday, November 28.
The list of special performances at the Old Courthouse on Friday and Saturday of the holiday weekend is available at this link.