Missouri National Parks
Missouri has been an iconic gateway for westward expansion and a starting point for thousands looking to settle the American West. Come #FindYourPark in Missouri.
Missouri National Parks
6 National Parks in Missouri
Other NPS-Affiliated Sites in Missouri
California National Historic Trail - CA, CO, ID, KS, MO, NE, NV, OR, UT, WY
The California National Historic Trail is an incredible 2,000 miles long and recounts the journey of over 250,000 people who made their way to California during the 1840s and 50s searching for gold, prosperity, and a better life. It was the greatest mass migration in American history. The trail runs roughly from Independence, MO to Sacramento, CA, and spans ten states - California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.
Passport sites and interpretive centers exist along the route in several states. A modern-day auto route is also available for those wanting to trace the trail by car.
Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area
Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area is a region in the United States that encompasses a vast area of eastern Kansas and western Missouri. Established in 2006, it commemorates the historical events and people who played pivotal roles in the fight for freedom and civil rights in the American Midwest. This heritage area is significant for its connections to the history of the abolitionist movement, the Civil War, the struggle for civil rights, and the expansion of the American frontier and includes a network of historic sites, museums, and interpretive centers that showcase the stories of the people and events that shaped the nation's path toward freedom and civil rights.
Click here to learn more about the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area.
Gateway Arch National Park - St. Louis, MO
Gateway Arch National Park is best known for its iconic namesake, the Gateway Arch. It was designed to stand as a symbol of the westward expansion of the United States and marks the point of departure for thousands of explorers, pioneers, and settlers heading west on the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails. Established as an NPS site in 1935, it was originally known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and was later renamed Gateway Arch National Park in 2018 with full National Park status.
Visitors to Gateway Arch National Park can learn about rich history of the American frontier through a variety of activities. The Gateway Arch itself offers a unique perspective on the city and the Mississippi River, as visitors can take a tram ride to the top for panoramic views. The Museum at the Gateway Arch provides extensive exhibits that detail the westward expansion, including Lewis and Clark's famous expedition and the challenges faced by pioneers. The Old Courthouse, another historic building within the park, offers insights into pivotal moments in American history, such as the Dred Scott case.
In addition to its historical significance, the park also offers recreational activities, including picnicking and walking along the riverfront. The scenic riverfront area hosts events, concerts, and festivals, providing a vibrant atmosphere for visitors. The park is also part of the Mississippi Greenway trail system, allowing for biking and walking trails along the river.
George Washington Carver National Monument - Diamond, MO
George Washington Carver National Monument is a tribute to the life and achievements of one of America's most renowned scientists and educators, George Washington Carver. Established in 1943, the Monument was the first in the United States to honor an African American and showcases his achievements in the field of agriculture, particularly for his work with peanuts and sweet potatoes. The monument is located on the site of the farm where Carver spent his early years, and it offers visitors a glimpse into his remarkable journey and contributions to American agriculture.
The Visitor Center provides educational exhibits that showcase Carver's groundbreaking work in agricultural science and his commitment to sustainable farming practices. Guests can also enjoy the museum and film presentation, walking trails that wind through the woodlands and tallgrass prairies, bird-watching, picnicking, and other outdoor recreation.
Harry S. Truman National Historic Site - Independence and Grandview, MO
The Harry S. Truman National Historic Site preserves the home and surroundings of the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman. The site comprises several historic structures, including Truman's family home, where he and his wife Bess lived for many years. The National Historic Site was established in 1983 to honor Truman's legacy and provide insights into the life of this influential figure in American history.
The Truman Home is the centerpiece of the site and guided tours are available that take guests through the rooms where the President and his family lived. The home is preserved as it was during the 1950s, allowing visitors to step back in time and gain a sense of the simplicity and charm of the Trumans' everyday life. Additionally, the site includes the Truman Farm Home, which provides a deeper understanding of Truman's early years and the agricultural heritage of the region.
The site also features the Truman Presidential Library and Museum, which is a short drive away from the historic homes. The museum showcases exhibits that delve into Truman's presidency, his role in World War II, and his impact on American politics and society. Visitors can explore interactive displays, view historical artifacts, and gain insights into the challenges and triumphs of Truman's leadership.
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail - PA, OH, WV, KY, IN, ID, IL, IA, KS, MO, MT, NE, ND, OR, SD, WA
The Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail marks the historic journey by Merriweather Lewis and William Clark along 4,900 miles of wilderness from Pennsylvania all the way to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. The Trail connects 16 states - Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon - and includes museums, landmarks, exhibits, and Visitor Centers along the route.
For a complete list of markers and things to see and do, click here.
Oregon National Historic Trail - ID, KS, MO, NE, OR, WA, WY
Beginning in Independence, Missouri and ending some 2,130 miles later in Oregon City, Oregon, and passing through seven states along the way, the Oregon Trail was the passage west for many settlers looking for a new life. The Oregon National Historic Trail marks the stories, landmarks, and landscapes of this incredible 4-month long journey made during the mid-1800's.
Today, there are several ways to experience the trail, with the most popular being by car. Maps citing various markers in each state are available to help you plan your journey . Of course, you don't have to travel the entire 2,000 miles to enjoy the trail, but for the purists who like to collect NPS Passport Stamps, you will find them at various Visitor Centers along the route here:
- Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument Visitor Center - Idaho
- Craters of the Moon National Historic Site - Idaho
- Three Island Crossing State Park - Idaho
- Shawnee Methodist Indian Mission State Historic Site - Kansas
- Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historical Site - Kansas
- Marysville Chamber of Commerce & Convention & Visitors Bureau - Kansas
- Harry S. Truman National Historic Site - Missouri
- Trailside Center - Missouri
- Alexander Majors House Museum - Missouri
- National Frontier Trails Museum - Missouri
- Scotts Bluff National Monument - Nebraska
- Homestead National Monument of America - Nebraska
- Flagstaff Hill/National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center - Oregon
- McLoughlin House - Oregon
- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site - Washington
- National Historic Trails Interpretive Center - Wyoming
- Martin's Cove - Wyoming
- Fort Bridger State Historic Park - Wyoming
-Fossil Butte National Monument - Wyoming
Ozark National Scenic Riverways - Van Buren, Eminence, Salem, Winona, MO
National Scenic Riverways is a unique NPS site that was established in 1964. It holds the distinction of being the first national park in the United States designed to protect a river system rather than a specific land area. The park is centered around the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, two pristine waterways that flow through the scenic Ozark Mountains. The history of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways is closely tied to the preservation of these exceptional rivers, ensuring that they remain a natural and recreational treasure for future generations.
Popular activities at Ozark National Scenic Riverways are canoeing and kayaking, hiking, and spelunking. For history buffs, the park preserves historic sites and structures related to the early settlement of the Ozarks, including mills, homesteads, and springs. The Alley Spring and Mill offers a glimpse into the life of early European settlers and their use of the region's resources. Ranger-led programs and interpretive centers provide insights into the cultural and natural history of the Ozark region.
Pony Express National Historic Trail - CA, CO, KS, MO, NE, NV, UT, WY
Before there was the telegraph, the most efficient method for getting messages across the country was the Pony Express. Riders could get a piece of mail from Saint Joseph's, Missouri to Sacramento, California - 2,005 miles - in just ten days. During the mid-1800's in the height of the Gold Rush, the Mormon migration, and the thousands of settlers travelling west along the Oregon Trail, the need arose to get mail quickly to the West. The Pony Express only existed for eighteen months during 1860-1861, but during that time, this mail service became synonymous with the Old West.
Today, you can trace the Pony Express National Historic Trail at various points throughout Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. Check here for sites and points of interest in each state. The Pony Express National Historic Trail was designated by Congress in 1992.
Santa Fe National Historic Trail - CO, KS, MO, NM, OK
The Santa Fe National Historic Trail runs from Western Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico and passes through the states of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico. Since 1821 the trail was a major thoroughfare for goods, but by 1880, the trail had became obsolete due to the Santa Fe Railroad line built between Kansas City and Santa Fe. With thirty sites along the trail to get a passport stamp, there are plenty of stops to learn the stories and history of this famous old-west 'highway'.
Ste. Geneviève National Historical Park - Ste. Geneviève, MO
Ste. Geneviève National Historical Park was established on October 30, 2020, and commemorates the cultural and historical significance of the town of Ste. Geneviève, Missouri. Ste. Geneviève is one of the oldest towns west of the Mississippi River and has a rich history dating back to the late 18th century. It played a pivotal role in the westward expansion of the United States, serving as a French colonial settlement and a hub for trade and commerce.
Plans are ongoing to further develop the Park, but visitors can currently tour several of the buildings and grounds including the Green Tree Tavern, the oldest building still standing in Ste. Genevieve as well as the Jean Baptiste Vallé House and the Bauvais-Amoureux House.
Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail - AL, AR, GA, IL, KY, MO, NC, OK, TN
The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail commemorates the forceful removal of the Cherokees from their homes in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. States participating the the Trail are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. More than 16,000 Cherokee were relocated between 1838 and 1839, and the trail documents their stories of suffering, illness, and death but also preserves their routes and important sites along the Trail.
Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site - St. Louis, MO
The Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site honors the life and legacy of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States and a prominent Civil War general. The site primarily revolves around the historic White Haven estate, which was the childhood home of Grant's wife, Julia Dent, and is where Ulysses S. Grant courted Julia. The National Historic Site was established in 1989 to preserve this historic property and provide visitors with insights into the personal and military life of General Grant.
Visitors can explore the historic White Haven home via guided tours, tour the restored Ordnance Stable, which houses an exhibit on Grant's military career and role as a Civil War general, and participate in a variety of ranger-led programs.
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield - Republic, MO
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield near Springfield, Missouri marks the location of one of the first major battles in the American Civil War. The Battle of Wilson's Creek, which occurred on August 10, 1861, was a pivotal conflict between Union and Confederate forces. The site was designated as a national battlefield in 1960 to preserve the memory of this battle and to educate visitors about the American Civil War. The park encompasses over 2,000 acres and contains historical structures and monuments that offer insights into the events of that fateful day.
The Park offers informative exhibits, artifacts, guided tours of the battlefield, and several hiking trails that traverse the battlefield.