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National Park Quiz 34: Christmas in the Parks

This National Park Service photo shows Jack Galloway with the park-themed ornament he made. It graced the official White House Christmas Tree in 2007.

1. The National Christmas Tree is situated on the Ellipse, which is a component of
a. the National Mall
b. the White House
c. President’s Park
d. Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site

2. The National Christmas Tree that was decorated and lit earlier this month
a. was cut last month in a Colorado national forest
b. was transplanted from a Maryland national park
c. is a gift from the people of Toronto, Canada
d. is the same one that was decorated and lit last year

3. Celebrating “Christmas in August” on August 25th is a longstanding tradition at ______ National Park.
a. Glacier
b. Yellowstone
c. Yosemite
d. Grand Canyon

4. Over the years, hundreds of people have paid big bucks to spend Christmas Eve at the Bracebridge Dinner in
a. Grand Canyon’s El Tovar Hotel
b. Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn
c. Death Valley’s Furnace Creek Inn Ranch and Resort
d. Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel

5. Many people observe birds in national parks to get information for the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, the world’s largest bird survey. Which park’s Christmas Bird Count provides information about the winter bird populations of the San Luis Valley?
a. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
b. Petrified Forest National Park
c. Scotts Bluff National Monument
d. Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

6. The Festival of Christmas Past is held each December in the Sugarlands Visitor Center and the Sugarlands Training Center. That should be enough information for you to determine that the Festival of Christmas Past is an annual event staged in
a. Golden Gate National Recreation Area
b. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
c. Acadia National Park
d. Cape Hatteras National Seashore

7. The National Park Service wants to expand ______ by acquiring the Christmas Mountains, a ruggedly beautiful wilderness tract encompassing over 9,200 acres near the park’s northwest boundary. However, a key Texas official vowed that he won't allow the Christmas Mountains tract to be sold to the National Park Service unless the park allows sport hunting and the carrying of concealed weapons on the property.
a. Lyndon Johnson National Historical Park
b. Amistad National Recreation Area
c. Big Bend National Park
d. Big Thicket National Preserve

8. Hidden behind Rattlesnake Springs about 23 miles from the visitor center, Slaughter Canyon Cave in _______ has a Christmas Tree Room that delights the eye. The underground room’s namesake, a shimmering, crystal-decorated column “crowned in a white bell canopy as delicate as glazed frosting.”
a. Oregon Caves National Park
b. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
c. Wind Cave National Park
d. Mammoth Cave National Park

9. A Victorian Christmas has traditionally been staged at ______ National Historic Site, a national park in Buffalo, New York that honors the 26th president of the United States
a. Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural
b. Herbert Hoover
c. Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt
d. Martin Van Buren

10. Designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, and bearing the name of the park in which it is situated, the 120-room ______ Lodge was built in the late 1920s, rebuilt after a 1966 fire, and restored to its original classic appearance in 1990. It still offers the only in-park lodging available to visitors. On Christmas Day, the lodge’s restaurant will serve a special Christmas buffet.
a. Acadia
b. Zion
c. Rocky Mountain
d. Crater Lake

Extra Credit Question:

11. During the Christmas holiday season last year, the official White House Christmas Tree was bedecked with 347 national park ornaments. One of these was an exquisite three-dimensional, hand-painted depiction of a particular park. Jack Galloway (see accompanying photo), a landscape architect at this park, had worked on the decoration at various times over a period of 17 years. Jack’s spouse was Executive Director of the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts last year. From this you should be able to deduce that the park depicted on this decoration is
a. Padre Island National Seashore
b. Biscayne National Park
c. Cabrillo National Monument
d. Olympic National Park

Super Bonus Question:

12. [OK; I’ll admit that this one is a stretch.] Christmas Island is an Australian possession in the ______ on which a national park -- Christmas Island National Park -- has been created to protect the habitat of the Abbott's Booby.
a. Indian Ocean
b. Pacific Ocean
c. Tasmanian Sea
d. Coral Sea


(1) c -- President's Park (a name originally applied to Lafayette Park and Square) is a National Park System unit consisting of the White House, a visitor center, Lafayette Park, and the Ellipse.

(2) d – The National Christmas Tree you see on the Ellipse is a live tree that was transplanted to the Ellipse in 1978 from the front yard of William E. and Helen Myers of York, Pennsylvania.. Several previous plantings of living trees (dating to 1973) failed because of heat and high winds.

(3) b – Christmas in August said to have originated at Yellowstone in the 1920s when a freak August snowstorm stranded visitors in the park. Although the “stranded travelers” story is bogus, Christmas in August is one of the more interesting traditions in the national parks.

(4) d -- The Bracebridge Dinner at the Ahwahnee is a Christmas holiday tradition dating to 1927. Staged eight times during December 15-26, including Christmas Eve, this year’s Bracebridge Dinner offers an elegant seven-course Christmas dinner and a four-hour pageant featuring 100 singers and other performers clad in Renaissance era attire.

(5) a – Grand Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is located in south-central Colorado within the 8,000 square-mile San Luis Valley, which sits at an average elevation of more than 7,500 feet above sea level.

(6) b – The Sugarlands Visitor Center is situated near the main western (Gatlinburg, TN) entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Festival of Christmas Past is a free event featuring music, demonstrations, hands-on workshops, and other attractions.

(7) c -- A permanent easement allows Big Bend visitors to cross the park boundary and access the Christmas Mountains tract. However, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has opposed the sale of Christmas Mountains to Big Bend, stating that this won’t happen unless the National Park Service allows sport hunting and the carrying of concealed weapons on the property. Both activities are currently banned in the park.

(8) b – Slaughter Canyon Cave is a remote and wild cave that the National Park Service refers to as an “underground wilderness without electricity, paved walkways, or modern conveniences.” If you want to see Christmas Tree Room for yourself, you’ll need to sign up for a ranger-guided tour during the summer season (Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend).

(9) a – . The Victorian Christmas event had to be moved off-site this year because the historic house that is the centerpiece attraction of Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site is being renovated.

(10) a – The Christmas buffer dinner at Zion’s Red Rock Grill will be served from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and is priced at $24.95.

(11) d – Olympic National Park occupies much of the Olympic Peninsula, which is separated from Canada’s Vancouver Island by the Strait of Juan de Fuca (aka Juan de Fuca Strait).

(12) a -- The Abbott’s Booby (Papasula abbotti) is a seabird that nests only in the emergent rainforest of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. Christmas Island National Park was created in 1977, expanded in the 1980s, and now protects most of the island’s rainforest.

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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