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National Park Quiz 26: Frightful Places and Scary Stuff

LeCire created this graphic depiction of a reptile-like chupacabra for Wikipedia. If you see one of these, be sure to take a picture of it and report it to a ranger.

1. Generally speaking (there are always exceptions), which of the following situations would be most stressful to a person who suffers classic symptoms of agoraphobia?
a. spending the night at the Volcano House hotel in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
b. visiting Steamtown National Historic Site in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania
c. taking a backpacking trip in Big Bend National Park
d. seeing a spider in the Biscayne National Park visitor center

2. If bats frighten you, you’ll probably want to stay away from the natural entrance of ______ at dusk during the summer months. That’s when hundreds of park visitors gather to watch many thousands of bats emerge from the cave to hunt insects.
a. Carlsbad Cavern
b. Wind Cave
c. Mammoth Cave
d. Timpanogos Cave

3. Snakes frighten a lot of park visitors, though the risk of being harmed by one is very small. The snake responsible for most of the venomous snakebites that occur in national parks of the eastern U.S. is the
a. cottonmouth
b. copperhead
c. timber rattlesnake
d. eastern diamondback rattlesnake

4. Being lost in a cave is a nightmare experience that can happen to visitors exploring wild caves or off-trail passages of public caves in some national parks. Getting lost in a cave can’t happen to you in ______, however, because there are no caves in the park.
a. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
b. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
c. Buffalo National River
d. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

5. Though seldom seen, cougars – also called mountain lions or panthers -- pose a credible hazard to people hiking in some national parks. The risk is greatest for lone hikers, small adults, and children. In July 1997, a cougar killed a 10-year-old boy in
a. Everglades National Park
b. Rocky Mountain National Park
c. Zion Canyon National Park
d. Yosemite National Park

6. A backpacker could obtain a backcountry permit, hike into a federally designated wilderness, go off-trail, and get scary-lost in all of the following national parks EXCEPT: (Choose the one that “does not belong.”)
a. Kings Canyon National Park
b. Everglades National Park
c. Mesa Verde National Park
d. Olympic National Park

7. Automobile-animal collisions involving moose are scary-dangerous, posing an unusually high risk of human injury or death. That’s because a moose’s long legs put the animal’s half-ton torso at windshield level. A motorist is at some risk of hitting a moose on the road in all of the following parks EXCEPT: (Choose the one that “does not belong.”)
a. Yosemite National Park
b. Yellowstone National Park
c. Rocky Mountain National Park
d. North Cascades National Park

8. Whitewater rated Class VI is as scary as it gets, meaning that it’s considered lethally dangerous, even for skilled kayakers. Though it seems unlikely, Class VI rapids can be found at times in part of
a. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway
b. Natchez Trace Parkway
c. Blue Ridge Parkway
d. George Washington Memorial Parkway

9. Some visitors at ______ swear they have heard the ghostly cry of the Irish Brigade as they attacked and finally overran Bloody Lane.
a. Shiloh National Military Park
b. Stones River National Battlefield
c. Antietam National Battlefield
d. Vicksburg National Military Park

10. You might find the ghost of a hanged man at a ghostly place called Skidoo in ______.
a. Joshua Tree National Park
b. Canyonlands National Park
c. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
d. Death Valley National Park

Extra Credit Question:

11. As a ranger who saw it describes it, the Ghost of Blevins Farmstead is an old man who wears bib coveralls and a slouch hat. If you want to see the GOBF yourself (maybe on Halloween?), you’ll need to go to
a. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
b. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
c. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
d. Gettysburg National Military Park

Super Bonus Question:

12. The image depicted in the photo accompanying this quiz is an artist’s conception of the chupacabra (or chucacabras), a legendary creature that many people claim to have seen. According to Andrea Lankford, author of Haunted Hikes: Spine-Tingling Tales and Trails from North America’s National Parks, the chupacabra is said to inhabit the swamps in
a. Big Thicket National Preserve
b. Isle Royale National Park
c. Congaree National Park
d. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore


(1) c – People who suffer classic symptoms of agoraphobia have an aversion to places where help, assistance, or safety/refuge is not close at hand. A backpacking trip in Big Bend National Park would almost surely cause an agoraphobic person to suffer prolonged severe distress. The other listed choices might be distressful too, but not to that degree.

(2) a –Beneath the natural entrance of Carlsbad Cavern is a Bat Cave that is used by about half a million Mexican free-tail bats for about seven months a year. At dusk, these bats come spiraling up out of the natural entrance in breathtaking numbers. Flying to places as much as 50 miles away, they spread out over the countryside to feed on mosquitoes and other insects

(3) b – Copperheads are responsible for most venomous snake bites in the eastern United States, including the national parks. Fortunately, copperhead venom is not very potent, and not every bite injects venom (many snakebites are “dry”). While copperhead bites can be painful, requiring medical attention, fatalities are exceedingly rare.

(4) d – Sleeping Bear Dunes has lots of dunes, as the name suggests, but no caves.

(5) b – An 88-pound adult female cougar killed the child when he was separated from his family for only a few minutes while hiking on a trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.

(6) c – Off-trail hiking is strictly prohibited at Mesa Verde National Park to protect fragile archeological sites. The park’s three wilderness areas segments are completely closed to the public. In the rest of the park, visitors may hike only on designated trails.

(7) a – Though Yosemite National Park motorists are at no risk of hitting a moose, bears are another story. A recent increase in car-bear collisions prompted rangers to more vigorously enforce the speed limit on park roads.

(8) d – Unusually heavy rains and spring thaw runoff can produce Class VI rapids at Great Falls Park, which is administered as a sub-unit of George Washington Memorial Parkway.

(9) c - The sound they claim to have heard is “Faugh-a-Balaugh!”, which is Gaelic for “clear the way!”. Of the approximately 1,000 Irish Brigade troops who fought at Antietam, more than half were killed (113), wounded (422), or missing (5).

(10) d - Located off the Wildrose Road south of Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley, Skidoo is more of a town ruins than a ghost town; there’s just an interpretive sign there. The hanging -- the only one ever recorded in Death Valley – was a lynching that occurred in the early 1900s. The hanged man, a murderer named Hootch Simpson, was actually hung a second time for the benefit of a news photographer who had missed the first hanging.

(11) c - Oscar Blevins was a Tennessee farmer who lived in a log cabin near Bandy Creek for 50 years. The Federal government condemned Blevins’ property in 1975 to include it in the newly established Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Blevins died in 1988, and an acquaintance said that Oscar had "grieved himself to death over the loss of his farm."

(12) a – The chupacabra is an unidentified creature, first reported in the mid-1990s, that is said to kill livestock (especially goats) and suck their blood. The vast majority of the reported sightings have been in Latin America and adjacent areas of the United States, so the chupacabra is usually thought of as a creature related to Spanish-speaking or Spanish-heritage rural places. (Chupacabra means “goat sucker” in Spanish.) There have been reported sightings in Big Thicket National Preserve, an east Texas park that is some hundreds of miles from Mexico (where many chupacabra sightings have been reported). None of the other three parks listed with Big Thicket is known to harbor chupacabras, though we don’t rule out bigfoot or hogzilla.

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

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