Death Valley National Park vs Gateway Arch National Park

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“Experience the diversity of America’s national parks with Death Valley and Gateway Arch. One is a scorching desert basin dotted with towering sand dunes, while the other is a gleaming 630-foot monument symbolizing American expansion. Death Valley boasts world-record heat and geological wonders, while Gateway Arch offers a window into the country’s rich history and architecture. Whether you’re a fan of searing heat or soaring heights, these two parks offer a unique and contrasting look into the beauty and diversity of the American landscape. So, come along for the ride as we explore the extremes of Death Valley and the elegance of Gateway Arch.”

Hiking Trails in Death Valley National Park and Gateway Arch National Park

Death Valley National Park and Gateway Arch National Park are two vastly different national parks in terms of terrain, climate, and vegetation. Death Valley is known for its harsh desert environment while Gateway Arch is located in an urban setting. The easiest hike at Death Valley is the Mosaic Canyon trail, a moderate 1.5-mile hike that takes you through a narrow, winding canyon filled with smooth marble and colorful rock formations. On the other hand, Gateway Arch has several easier hikes, including the Riverfront Trail, a flat 2-mile trail that runs along the Mississippi River. The hardest hike at Death Valley is the Telescope Peak trail, a strenuous 14-mile round trip hike that takes you to the highest point in the park, which is 11,049 feet above sea level. Gateway Arch does not have any challenging hikes, but visitors can take a tram to the top of the Gateway Arch for panoramic views of the city.

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Death Valley National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Badwater Basin Salt Flats Trail 1.80 mi 9.84 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes Trail 2.79 mi 206.64 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Zabriskie Point 0.40 mi 52.48 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Dante’s View Trail 1.60 mi 360.80 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Telescope Peak Trail 11.97 mi 3,322.64 ft out and back Hard 4.5/5
Golden Canyon Trail to Red Cathedral 2.89 mi 574.00 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch Loop via Zabriskie Point 5.79 mi 1,092.24 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Mosaic Canyon Trail 3.49 mi 1,066.00 ft out and back Easy 4/5
Death Valley Natural Bridge Road 4.29 mi 1,000.40 ft out and back Easy 4/5
Darwin Falls Trail via Old Toll Road 1.90 mi 226.32 ft out and back Easy 4/5

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Gateway Arch National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
St. Louis Riverfront Trail 21.35 mi 360.80 ft loop Easy 4/5
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial 1.60 mi 68.88 ft loop Easy 4/5

Wildlife in Death Valley National Park and Gateway Arch National Park

Death Valley NP is known for its desert ecosystem, with species adapted to survive in extreme conditions. Common wildlife includes bighorn sheep, golden eagles, and the desert tortoise. The park also has a large variety of reptiles, such as snakes and lizards. Flora includes creosote bush, Joshua trees and desert wildflowers that bloom after rain.

In contrast, Gateway Arch NP, located in downtown St. Louis, MO, is known for its urban environment and is a smaller park. Common wildlife is limited to birds such as pigeons, gulls, and some species of songbirds. The park has limited vegetation and is mostly comprised of landscaped grounds and park benches.

Below are lists of the most commonly spotted wildlife at Death Valley National Park and Gateway Arch National Park. However, you can see a full list of wildlife at each national park here.

Beautiful Landscapes in Death Valley National Park and Gateway Arch National Park

Death Valley National Park is known for its diverse landscapes, including the Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level, and the towering peaks of the Panamint Range. The park’s salt flats, sand dunes, and colorful canyons are also popular attractions.

Gateway Arch National Park, located in St. Louis, Missouri, is home to the 630-foot tall Gateway Arch, a monument to the westward expansion of the United States. The park offers stunning views of the Mississippi River and the city skyline, and visitors can take a tram to the top of the Arch for a bird’s eye view. The park also includes the Old Courthouse, a National Historic Landmark, and the Museum of Westward Expansion.

Things To-Do and Activities in Death Valley National Park and Gateway Arch National Park

Death Valley National Park, located in California, is famous for its unique and intense landscapes, including the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin, and the towering sand dunes of Mesquite Flat. Visitors enjoy scenic drives, camping, and stargazing. On the other hand, Gateway Arch National Park in Missouri is centered around the 630-foot tall Gateway Arch, a symbol of westward expansion. People come to take tram rides to the top of the arch, riverboat cruises along the Mississippi River, and to explore the Museum of Westward Expansion located beneath the arch. Both parks offer ranger-led programs, but Death Valley has more varied options including wildflower walks, backcountry hikes and artist-in-residence programs.

In summary, Death Valley is known for its diverse terrains and outdoor adventures, while Gateway Arch is focused on the iconic arch and its history.

Best Time to Visit Death Valley National Park and Gateway Arch National Park

Death Valley NP is located in California and is known for its extreme temperatures, with summer temperatures often exceeding 120°F (49°C). Winter temperatures are mild, with averages in the 60s°F (15-20°C). The best time to visit Death Valley is from November to April, when temperatures are more moderate. On the other hand, Gateway Arch NP in Missouri has a more temperate climate, with hot summers and cold winters. Summer temperatures average in the 80s°F (27-32°C) and winter temperatures average in the 30s°F (-1 to 4°C). The best time to visit Gateway Arch is during the spring and fall, when temperatures are mild and comfortable. Both parks offer unique experiences, but the weather greatly affects the best time to visit and what activities can be enjoyed.

Family Friendliness of Death Valley National Park and Gateway Arch National Park

Death Valley National Park is known for its extreme heat and remote location, making it less suitable for families with young children. On the other hand, Gateway Arch National Park offers a more kid-friendly atmosphere with its city location, interactive museum, and tram rides to the top of the 630-foot arch for panoramic views of St. Louis. For families traveling with children, Gateway Arch National Park is a better choice as it offers more educational and accessible experiences.

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