ST. LOUIS – A new study recognizes the Gateway Arch National Park as the safest national park in the United States.

A research team from lighting company Cocoweb conducted the study, using data from the National Park Safety Index to determine the nation’s safest and most dangerous national parks.

The rankings were based on several factors, including…

The number of fatalities at the park

The number of search and rescue incidents at the park

The number of dangerous animals that live in the park

The frequency of severe weather at the park

The difference in elevation within the park (a possible indicator of falls)

The availability of cell phone service and WiFi at the park

In its explanation of the “safest” ranking, Cocoweb says, “Gateway Arch National Park has not had any fatalities or search and rescue (SAR) incidents, does not contain any dangerous animals, and has excellent public WiFi.”

The park earned a score of 16.65 out of 100 possible points for its lack of dangerous elements. In this system, a lower score represented a safer national park.

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The United States is home to 63 national parks. The National Park Service designates these parks as protected areas for their impact on conservation. Many of these spots offer vibrant ecosystems, rich histories, and exceptional opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Although the Gateway Arch grounds earned “National Park” status in 2018, there appears to be mixed opinions as to whether it fits the definition of a traditional national park.

“The Gateway Arch’s designation as a national park has become a controversial topic as many believe that it lessens the significance of a national park and was done to promote tourism rather than to conserve nature,” said Cocoweb.

According to the National Park Service, the Arch represents St. Louis’ role in westward expansion in the 19th century, recognizing the contributions of Thomas Jefferson, Dred Scott, and many others.

Indiana Dunes finished right behind the Gateway Arch in the rankings with a safety score of 17.09. The site does not have any dangerous animals and very minimal fall risks, according NPS data.

The North Cascades in Washington was named the most dangerous national park with a safety score of 68.04. That ranking was largely based on fatality rates, search and rescue missions and the presence of dangerous animals.