Missouri is pilot state for program to boost physical and mental health

ST. LOUIS —The National Park Service (NPS) has introduced a new way to experience Missouri’s beloved treasures – our national parks – with the National Park Service Wellness Challenge. The NPS Wellness Challenge promotes the unique health resources that are found in national park sites across the country, and asks visitors to participate in physical, mental and learning wellness activities unique to each park. Missouri is the pilot state for this program.

Park visitors can earn stamps or digital badges upon completing activities at Gateway Arch National Park, Ste. Geneviève National Historical Park, and Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, among others.

“Not only are our national parks vital to the story of America, but they also provide so many incredible benefits to our health and wellbeing,” says Diana Allen, chief of Healthy Parks Healthy People. “Join us in participating in the NPS Wellness Challenge this year. Whether you choose to hike Missouri’s trails, visit museums and historic homes, or take a moment to be aware and still, health and wellness are all well within reach at Missouri’s national parks.”

In the St. Louis region, participants can take part in the NPS Wellness Challenge at Gateway Arch National Park, Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park and Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site.

The NPS Wellness Challenge, part of NPS’s “Healthy Parks Healthy People” initiative, will kick off during National Park Week, beginning Saturday, April 16 and will run indefinitely. The challenge was created with leadership and support from Gateway Arch National Park, Healthy Parks Healthy People and community partners.


Each national park site will offer nine Wellness Challenge activities, organized within three categories: physical wellness, learning wellness and mental wellness. To get started, participants can pick up a National Park Service Wellness Challenge Guide at any Missouri national park site.

When an activity in each category is completed, participants can get their guide stamped by an NPS ranger or download a digital badge to mark their achievement at the challenge official website.

More information about the NPS Wellness Challenge, including the full list of park activities, can be found here.

Missouri’s seven national park sites are:


At Gateway Arch National Park

Physical Wellness

  • Walk up the Arch Grand Staircase or move up the accessible ramps.
  • Walk, run, bike or roll around over five miles of the park’s paved trails.
  • Stroll along the historic St. Louis Riverfront Trail.

Learning Wellness

  • Earn a Junior Ranger badge.
  • Watch the award-winning documentary “Monument to the Dream,” chronicling the construction of the Gateway Arch.
  • Explore the Museum at the Gateway Arch.

Mental Wellness

  • Take in the views from the top of the Arch via the Tram Ride to the Top.
  • Visit the reflection ponds to the north and south of the Arch and relax and soak in the environment.
  • Stroll through the paved paths of the Explorer’s Garden located in the North Gateway area of the park.

Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park:

Illustration of early scene of Ste. Genevieve in its original location on the banks of the Mississippi River. Cropped from a mural painted in 1924 that is located in the Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City, MO. Artist: Oscar E. Berninghaus (1874–1952). Photo courtesy Missouri State Capitol

Physical Wellness

  • Craft your own tour by visiting local businesses and landmarks within the Historic District.
  • Bike, walk, run or roll on the 3.5-mile-long Levee Trail.
  • Stretch out on one of Ste. Genevieve’s greenspaces, such as the lawn at Jean Baptiste Vallé House.

Learning Wellness

  • Take a ranger-guided tour of historical sites such as the Jean Baptiste Vallé House, Bauvais-Amoureux House and Green Tree Tavern.
  • At the park’s Welcome Center, ask an NPS ranger your questions, watch the introductory film and examine the diorama depicting Ste. Geneviève in 1832.
  • Visit the Bauvais-Amoureux House to learn the unique story of Pèlagie Amoureux and her family’s lives.

Mental Wellness

  • View the artwork hanging in the Jean Baptiste Vallé House.
  • Find peace and tranquilty among the roses in the historic garden at Jean Baptiste Vallé House.
  • Visit Memorial Cemetery to learn about the burial site for many of the town’s early residents.

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

Tourists visit the main house on a ranger-led tour. Photo courtesy National Park Service

Physical Wellness

  • Join Park Guide Ashton Farrell on a 3-mile walk or run from White Haven to St. Paul’s Cemetery and back, or join a family-friendly 4-mile bike tour on Grant’s Trail to the historic Sappington House and back.
  • Stroll the quarter-mile loop around the White Haven Estate’s historic structures and 10 acres of greenspace.
  • Take a ranger-led tour inside White Haven House.

Learning Wellness

  • Examine the park’s museum, explore the park’s 1871 stables and check out the Vision of Justice exhibit.
  • Watch the 22-minute film “A Legacy of Freedom” to learn about Grant’s life.
  • Celebrate the park’s bicentennial by experiencing living history weekends, going on special themed tours and earning a commemorative Junior Ranger badge.

Mental Wellness

  • Take a moment to pause in White Haven’s summer kitchen and reflect on the lives of the enslaved people who lived and worked on the estate.
  • Find a comfortable place to sit in the park and journal your observations.
  • Enjoy a self-guided tour of historic trees that reside all around White Haven.

Share your Wellness Challenge journey on social media with #NPSWellnessChallenge! Follow Gateway Arch National Park (@gatewayarchnps), Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park (@stegennps) and Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site (@usgrantnps) on Facebook and Instagram, as special social media challenges will be shared during National Park Week.