7 National Parks In Missouri

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Missouri is the Cave State because it has several unique and beautiful natural wonders. Unlike state parks, however, national parks in the state place less emphasis on the natural environment. Instead, national parks in Missouri highlight and preserve important historical and cultural treasures.

From the first national park dedicated to an African American to the tallest man-made monument in the United States, each of Missouri’s national parks has its distinct feature or story that makes it worthwhile to visit and explore. Here’s a look at the seven national parks in Missouri and some things to do when you visit.

7 National Parks In Missouri

1- Gateway Arch National Park

national parks missouri Gateway Arch in Saint Louis with blue sky and clouds
Gateway Arch National Park is one of the Missouri national parks to visit.

Gateway Arch National Park, formerly the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, is in St. Louis, Missouri.

The memorial was established in 1935 to commemorate Thomas Jefferson’s nonviolent acquisition of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803.

The Louisiana Purchase sparked the westward movement of American explorers and pioneers.

This 90.9-acre (36.8 ha) park was designated in 2018 and is home to the Gateway Arch, a famous landmark in Missouri.

Also called the Gateway to the West, it’s the tallest structure in the state, standing at more than 630 ft (192 m).

Also part of the park is the Old Courthouse, a former state and federal courthouse where the notable Dred Scott case was heard, and the Museum of Westward Expansion, which features over 200 years of history.

In 1857, the Dred Scott case decision by the US Supreme Court ruled that slaves who had lived in free states were not entitled to freedom in states where slavery was legal.

Things To Do In The Park

missouri national parks list downtown St Louis at night
Gateway Arch National Park in downtown St Louis may not be the first place you’d think of when looking for a national park in Missouri but it is packed with historic gems that you will enjoy discovering.
  • Take A Tram Ride to the Top

Enjoy spectacular views with a unique tram ride to the top of the iconic Gateway Arch, which rises 63 stories into the sky.

  • Visit the Old Courthouse

The Old Courthouse, built in 1864, is one of the oldest standing structures in St. Louis. You can walk through the courthouse halls where two landmark civil rights cases, Dred Scott and Virginia Minor, made history.

  • The Museum of Westward Expansion

The Museum of Westward Expansion commemorates the United States’ westward expansion, covering 201 years of history on topics such as Colonial St. Louis, Thomas Jefferson’s Vision, and Building the Gateway Arch, among others.

How To Get To The Park

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Gateway Arch National Park is one of the national parks in Missouri that will give you a feel for the state.

The Gateway Arch National Park is in downtown St. Louis, on the Mississippi River. Interstates 44, 55, 64, and 70 intersect near the park.

2- George Washington Carver National Monument

national parks in missouri pink George Washington Carver US postal stamp
George Washington Carver National Monument is one of the national parks in Missouri that will help you appreciate George Washington Carver’s contribution to the state.

The George Washington Carver National Monument commemorates the birthplace of George Washington Carver, an African American inventor, educator, and agricultural pioneer.

It is one of the first national monuments to honour an African American, as well as the first to honour a non-president.

This 240-acre (97 ha) park was established in 1943 and houses the Historic Moses Carver Home and the Carver Cemetery.

Carver’s contributions to science forever changed the economic landscape of America. His inventions include crop rotation, a type of gasoline and hundreds of agricultural inventions involving peanuts and sweet potatoes, including paints, dyes, ink and synthetic rubber.

Here, visitors can learn more about Carver’s life and the things that influenced his quest for education to become a well-known agricultural scientist, educator and humanitarian.

Things To Do In The Park

  • Hike The Nature Trail

The Carver Trail is a short loop trail that winds its way around the Carver property and out to the 1881 Moses Carver home.

  • Visit The Carver Home

The Moses Carver home, located along the Carver Trail, is modelled after the house where Moses Carver and his wife Susan raised their family. A park ranger is usually stationed outside the home to answer questions.

  • Explore Interactive Exhibits

A 25-minute park film covers the entire life of Carver, his work to support African American farm families at the turn of the century, and how his religious beliefs influenced his work.

How To Get To The Park

You can reach Carver Road by taking I-44. This road is 34 miles (55 km) south of the park entrance.

The George Washington Carver National Monument is in Newton County, Missouri, 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Joplin.

3- Harry S Truman National Historic Site

map of missouri national parks Missouri image with hi-res rendered artwork that could be used for any graphic design.
Missouri’s national parks have distinct features that makes it worthwhile to explore.

The Harry S Truman National Historic Site commemorates and celebrates the life of the 33rd President of America, Harry S Truman.

This 0.8-acre (0.32-ha) site, designated as a National Historic Site in 1983, includes the Truman Home in Independence and the Truman Farm House in Grandview.

The Truman Home, a white Victorian-style mansion, provides visitors with an insight into Truman’s simple life before becoming President of the United States.

Truman was one of the few presidents who did not own a home before taking office.

After retiring, the house became his personal office, and he lived here until he died in 1972.

His wife and daughter also lived here until their deaths, helping preserve the Truman family’s life and ancestral home.

The Truman Farm House in Grandview was built in 1894 by Truman’s maternal grandmother.

This 5.2 acres (2.1 ha) historic farm property is where Mr Truman worked as a young man from 1906 to 1917.

Things To Do In The Park

  • Tour the Truman Home and Truman Farm

Experience Truman’s surroundings as a young man with modest ambition through his political career and final years as a former president.

The historic Truman Home, with thousands of artifacts on display, offers a fascinating look into the personal lives of the Truman family.

The Truman Farm is also available for self-guided tours all year round.

How To Get To The Park

The Visitor Center is housed in Historic Fire Station No.1 at the intersection of Truman Road and Main Street.

4- Ozark National Scenic Riverways

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Alley Springs in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways is one fo the ‘national parks’ in Missouri for lovers of the outdoors.

The Ozark National Scenic Riverways in southern Missouri’s Ozark Mountains is one of the most captivating places in Missouri.

This park was established in 1964 to protect 134 miles (216 km) of the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers. It’s the first national park in the United States to protect a river system.

The crystal clear waters of these rivers wind through a landscape of rugged hills and towering bluffs, surrounded by lush green oak-pine forests.

Apart from these two well-known rivers, the park contains hundreds of freshwater springs, caves, trails, and historic sites such as Alley Mill.

The area is home to a range of wildlife and around 400 different animal species have been spotted in the area, including bobcats, coyotes and birds of prey, as well as over a thousand different plant species.

Things To Do In The Park

Hiking is popular in the park, which has over 390 miles (628 km) of trails to explore the diverse landscape of the Missouri Ozarks.

Those who enjoy hunting will find plenty of opportunities in the park.

Other activities also include paddling, swimming, fishing, kayaking, river tubing, fishing, horseback riding, birdwatching, wildlife viewing, auto touring, and camping.

How To Get To The Park

The park headquarters is at 404 Watercress Drive in Van Buren. You can reach the park via Interstate 44 or US Route 60.

5- Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park

missouri national parks Flag of the state of Missouri on dry earth ground texture background
Looking for national parks in Missouri? Here are some you will love.

The Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park is in the historic district of Ste. Genevieve.

Established in 1750, Ste. Genevieve was the first permanent European settlement in Missouri and served as the capital of Spanish and French Louisiana during the colonial era.

Le Grand Champ (the Big Field) was fertile land that drew early French Canadian settlers here.

Following the flood of 1785, the town relocated to its current location on higher ground 3 miles (5 km) to the northwest of its original location.

Ste. Geneviève National Historical Park was established in 2020 and is west of the Mississippi River.

The park preserves the largest grouping of still-standing buildings in the iconic French Colonial architectural style and the stories and histories of the various communities that have called this area home.

Things To Do In The Park

  • Visit Jean Baptiste Valle House

The Jean Baptiste Vallé House, built in 1794, was home to the last Commandant of Ste. Genevieve.

Following the Louisiana Purchase, Jean Baptiste Vallé oversaw the administration of the colonized area.

  • Walk Around The Jean Baptiste Vallé Gardens

The rose gardens, thought to be the first west of the Mississippi, are open to the public all year.

Various families have carefully cultivated the gardens over many generations to become what it is today.

  • Visit the Beauvais-Amoureux House

There are only three known surviving poteaux-en-terre post in-ground houses in Ste. Genevieve.

The Amoureux House, built in 1792, was occupied by Pelagie, a former slave who wisely and courageously embraced life as a free woman.

How To Get To The Park

Take I-55 South to exit 150 from either north or south of Ste. Genevieve. Travel approximately 5 miles (8 km) to the intersection of Highways 32 and 61. Turn right on Market to enter the Historic District of Ste. Genevieve.

6- Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

list of national parks in missouri General Grant National Memorial
General Grant National Memorial is a U.S. National Park Service site in Missouri that is better known as Grant’s Tomb. The mausoleum contains the bodies of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), American Civil War General and 18th President of the United States, and his wife, Julia Dent Grant (1826-1902).

This historic site is a 9.65-acre (3.91-ha) park in Grantwood Village, St. Louis and was established in 1989 to commemorate the life, military career, and presidency of Ulysses S. Grant.

Also known as White Haven, it consists of five historic structures related to the life of the 18th President of the United States.

White Haven was where Ulysses met Julia Dent, his future wife, for the first time.

The Dents, Grants, and an enslaved African-American workforce lived on the property from 1854 to 1859.

This personal experience influenced Grant’s role as a Union general fighting to end slavery, and he continued on his mission as President of the United States.

Visit to learn more about life in White Haven, including the hardships, family, farming, and slavery.

Things To Do In The Park

  • Watch The Orientation Film

A 22-minute orientation film details Ulysses S. Grant’s military service during the American Civil War and his two terms as President of the United States.

  • Visit the Museum

The park’s museum is housed in a historic horse stable built by Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. The museum houses six permanent exhibits which visitors can explore on a self-guided tour.

  • Guided Tours

Daily guided tours are available for visitors to explore the historic White Haven estate, where Ulysses and Julia Grant first met and fell in love.

How To Get To The Park

Ulysses S. Grant is on Grant Road in south St. Louis County, near Gravois Road to the south. Watson Road runs north, I-270 runs west, and Laclede Station Road runs east.

7- Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

are there any national parks in missouri Civil War Cannon firing
Civil war re-enactors fire off a cannon at Wilson’s Creek in the National Battlefield Park, which is one of the intriguing national parks in Missouri. Wilson’s Creek was the site of the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River.

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in the southwest region of Springfield is a 2,407-acre (973-ha) park that preserves the site of the Battle of Wilson Creek, a major Civil War battle fought in 1861.

It was where the first major American Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River was fought, as well as the place of death of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed in action.

The Confederate Army won the famous battle but could not capitalize on their victory.

Instead, the battle prompted increased federal military activity in Missouri and laid the groundwork for the Battle of Pea Ridge, which resulted in Union victory and effectively cemented Union control of the state.

This national battlefield site, established in 1960, is home to several sites, including the restored 1852 Ray House, a farmhouse that served as a temporary field hospital for soldiers after the battle.

The battlefield has remained largely unchanged from its historic setting.

Things To Do In The Park

  • Self-guided Tours

A self-guided auto tour along a five-mile (8-km) paved tour road is available to visitors. Along the tour road, there is also a seven-mile (11-km) horseback riding trail, several hiking trails, and a pedestrian lane.

How To Get To The Park

From I-44, exit at Missouri Highway MM and continue south to US Highway 60, then proceed through the intersection. Continue for half a mile to Missouri Highway ZZ, then turn right. Continue south to Farm Road 182 (Elm Street), then turn left. The entrance is on the right. From U.S. Highway 65 (south of Springfield), turn left (west) on Missouri Highway 14 at Ozark. Continue on Highway 14 to Missouri Highway ZZ. Follow ZZ north to Farm Road 182, then turn right. The entrance is on the right.