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National Park Quiz 5: Biggest This or That

Is this the largest log building in the National Park System? Xanterra Parks and Resorts photo.

Bigger is not always better, but it certainly can be interesting. Many national parks claim bragging rights to the biggest something-or-other. Can you sort them out? Take this week's quiz and see how you measure up. Answers are at the end. No peeking.

1. The biggest park in the National Park System, ______, is about six times as large as Yellowstone National Park.
a. Denali National Park & Preserve
b. Katmai National Park & Preserve
c. Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve
d. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

2. Encompassing over 5,210 square miles, ______ is the biggest national park in the conterminous 48 states.
a. Death Valley National Park
b. Yellowstone National Park
c. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
d. Glacier National Park

3. The biggest tract of federally designated wilderness east of the Rocky Mountains is in
a. Everglades National Park
b. Voyageurs National Park
c. Isle Royale National Park
d. Badlands National Park

4. The biggest battlefield park in America, ______, is also the biggest military park in the world.
a. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
b. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
c. Gettysburg National Military Park
d. Shiloh National Military Park

5. Totaling some 2,600 acres, the biggest collection of orchards in the National Park System is at
a. Walnut Canyon National Monument
b. Gettysburg National Military Park
c. Capitol Reef National Park
d. John Muir National Historic Site

6. The biggest river bottom hardwood forest in the U.S. is in
a. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
b. Big Cypress National Preserve
c. Big Thicket National Preserve
d. Congaree National Park

7. The biggest natural bridge in the world is in
a. Natural Bridges National Monument
b. Arches National Park
c. Rainbow Bridge National Monument
d. Zion National Park

8. The biggest tree in North America, by total volume, is the
a. General Sherman in Sequoia National Park
b. General Grant in Kings Canyon National Park
b. Grizzly Giant in Yosemite National Park
c. Hyperion in Redwood National Park

9. America’s biggest high-altitude lake (elevation above 7,000 feet) is in
a. Glacier National Park
b. Yellowstone National Park
c. Rocky Mountain National Park
d. Crater Lake National Park

10. The biggest log building in the National Park System is the
a. Glacier Park Lodge
b. LeConte Lodge
c. Copper Creek Inn
d. Old Faithful Inn

Extra credit

11 Your national parks “been there, done that” collection is not complete unless you've visited _____ in Isle Royale National Park, which is world famous as “the biggest island in the biggest lake on the biggest island in the biggest lake on the planet.” [Biggest, in this context, refers to biggest surface area.]
a. Ryan Island
b. Siskiwit Island
c. Devon Island
d. Moose Island

Answers: (1) d (2) a (3) a (4) b (5) c (6) d (7) c (8) a (9) b (10) d (11) a

Grading: 9 or 10 correct, rest on your laurels; 7 or 8 correct, pretty darn good; 6 correct, passably fair; 5 or fewer correct, nothing to brag about.



I'm resting on my laurels here in NM but wonder about question 7. I had always heard that the longest natural bridge in the world was in Zion. Did I get tripped up on the difference between "longest" and "biggest'? Or am I wrong about both?

Rick Smith

The answer is the one indicated in the quiz. The NPS describes the bridge thusly: "Rainbow Bridge is the world's largest known natural bridge........ From its base to the top of the arch, it is 290 feet -- nearly the height of the Statue of Liberty -- and spans 275 feet across the river; the top of the arch is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide." In my mind, largest means biggest, and I think that's reasonable. Otherwise....... take your complaint to the Park Service. :-)


Are you thinking perhaps about the Kolob Arch in Zion National Park? It's big, but it is not a natural bridge. To be considered a natural bridge, there must be water flowing underneath. I don't think this is the case with Zion's Kolob Arch.

Owen Hoffman
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

"Must" is a bit too restrictive. That's because "water flowing through it" is a suggested standard definition. Several other definitions are in use and are considered at least technically correct, depending on the context. This much we can say with confidence: All natural bridges are arches, but not all arches should be considered natural bridges.

Hmmm, nice technicality, Owen. While there is water flowing nearby, none flows beneath Kolob.

But beyond the question of whether Kolob is an arch or a bridge, it seems than Rainbow Bridge is almost twice as tall ( 290 feet vs. 104.7 feet) as Kolob, so that alone should make it "larger" when pure mass is considered. Although, it seems that Kolob's thickness has been measured at 75 feet, which is roughly 33 feet thicker than Rainbow Bridge, and the width is 35 feet, or just slightly wider than Rainbow.

More arch trivia can be found at this site.

Biggest or largest?

When I worked at Isle Royale, I remember that we usually called Ryan Island the "largest island in the largest lake on the largest island in the largest lake in the world." Pretty much the same as what Bob Janiskee wrote above. But when a fire broke out on Ryan island, and I had the opportunity to name the fire, what did I name it? Not the "Biggest" fire, but the "Largest" fire, of course.

That fire broke out in the fall (from a lightning strike) and it was still smoldering when we left Isle Royale weeks later to close the park and return to the mainland. During the annual winter wolf-moose study, I flew over Ryan Island, now covered with snow. I could finally declare the fire "out" officially. So I suspect the Largest fire may also be the one that burned, at least according to the park's paperwork, for the LONGEST time.

Bob Krumenaker

According to the Zion National Park staff, Kolob is the largest natural arch in the Western Hemisphere:

And according to the Glen Canyon/Rainbow Bridge staff, Rainbow Bridge is the natural bridge in the world:

My handy Glossary of Geology, fourth edition, by Julia A. Jackson has this to say:
natural arch - a natural bridge resulting from erosion
natural bridge -
(a) any archlike rock formation created by errosive agencies and spanning a ravine or valley
(b) ....the remnant of the roof of an underground cave or tunnel that has collapsed
(c) a sea arch or natural arch

Now, the Natural Arch and Bridge Society tries to distinguish a natural bridge as being either a water-formed natural arch or as an arch that has either been used as a bridge or at least simlpy looks like a bridge. Wikipedia also cites the Dictionary of Geologic Terms which says that a natural bridge is a "natural arch that spans a valley of erosion."

Bottom Line: While some people distinguish natural bridge and natural arch, the distinction is neither well-defined nor broadly accepted, and the National Park Service seems happy to claim the "largest" title for both Rainbow Bridge and Kolob Arch...

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