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National Park Quiz 39: Winter

You need to cut a good-sized hole in the ice before installing your shanty. The ice shown here is about eight inches thick, which is plenty enough. Photo by Odalaigh via Wikipedia.

1. True or false? Installing a fishing shanty like that shown in the accompanying photo is legal in some national parks.

2. True or false? According to official weather records, Logan Pass in Glacier National Park has the greatest average annual snowfall of any place in America’s National Park System.

3. True or false? About one-third of the 58 National Park-designated units of the National Park System reduce or eliminate their admission fees during the winter months.

4. True or false? Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park closes for the winter.

5. True or false? Snowfall may occur at any time of the year in portions of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

6. True or false? At Grand Canyon National Park, mule trips into the canyon are suspended during the winter.

7. True or false? Snowmobiling is permitted on the Grand Loop road system in Yellowstone National Park.

8. True or false? Cross country skiers are welcome to use the carriage roads in Acadia National Park.

9. True or false? At Crater Lake National Park, snowplows keep the Rim Drive open to traffic most winter days.

10. True or false? In mid-winter, most islands in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are linked to the mainland by ice roads or groomed trails.

Extra Credit Question:

11. True or false? The bears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park remain active throughout the winter months.

Super Bonus Question:

12. True or false? If you are driving your car in a designated chain control area of Yosemite National Park, you must have tire chains or cables in your possession even if you are not required to have them installed on your drive tires.


(1) True. Different parks have different rules, though. At Voyageurs National Park you must install your fishing shanty (“icehouse’) at least 50 feet from the center of snowmobile trails and the Rainy Lake ice road.

(2) False. The Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park has the highest average annual snowfall of any place where measurements are regular recorded.

(3) False. Most national parks do not seasonally adjust their admission fees.

(4) True. Isle Royale is one of the few national parks that shuts down for the winter. The park closed November 1, 2008 and is not scheduled to reopen until April 16, 2009.

(5) True. Snow can occur in any month in the upper elevations of 13,679-foot Mauna Loa. Blizzards, whiteouts, and strong, bitterly cold winds are among the peak’s objective hazards.

(6) False. Mule trips from the South Rim are offered on a year round basis.

(7) True. Yellowstone’s groomed snowmobile trails are on the park roads. It’s off-road snowmobiling that is prohibited in Yellowstone.

(8) True. The park has about 45 miles of carriage roads that are open for cross-country skiing when there is adequate snow. Volunteers sometimes lay down ski tracks on sections of the carriage roads.

(9) False. The park’s scenic Rim Drive is closed in winter because of the park’s heavy snowfall, which averages over 44 feet a year. The park’s north entrance is typically closed from early November to mid-June, and the Rim Visitor Center closes from October through May.

(10) False. Maintaining these links would be impractical and risky. Ice conditions vary greatly and can change quickly, even daily, in this part of Lake Superior.

(11) False. Although bears in Great Smoky don’t hibernate in the strict meaning of the term, they do hole up in dens (usually by mid-December) and fall into a deep sleep until March or early April.

(12) True. Within a designated chain control area, you must use chains or cables on your car's drive wheels when the chain control sign does not exempt your car. And even if your car is exempt, you must have chains or cables in your possession. Any time chain controls are in effect, all vehicles in the designated areas must have chains in possession. Experience shows that it’s not possible to consistently predict when chains will be needed. Chain requirements have been in place on occasion in Yosemite as early as September and as late as May.

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.



Having spent 13 years on Lake Superior for the NPS (6 at Isle Royale, now almost 7 at Apostle Islands) I am glad to say that I did pretty well on your test. It's been a really cold winter this year up here. This morning, it was a *balmy* -10 as I bundled up for my walk to work; since we had two mornings last week when it was -22 I'm starting to think this is good.

Here's a fun thing for NPT readers, the latest map of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan ice conditions, which show that you might actually be able to make it all the way from Apostle Islands to Isle Royale across the ice -- not that I'd recommend it. Grey in the image means "fast" (i.e. solid) ice, red means 90-100% cover, orange means 70-80%.:


Bob Krumenaker
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Interesting map, Bob. I see that you do have fast ice in your neighborhood. Do you have many visitors crossing the ice to visit the islands? Your remarks about the extreme cold raise obvious questions, the most basic of which is: Why do people choose to live and work where it gets so darn cold?

Phew! Missed two questions. However, there was a lot of guessing going on. In regards to question #3, however, I have run across a couple of exceptions. The entrance fee is dropped at Crater Lake NP during winter. And, at Muir Woods they open the park up early (before official opening hours and don't charge) for those who are out on their early morning walks (which is very good of them), before the hordes of buses show up.

rob mutch
Executive Director,
Crater Lake Institute
Robert Mutch Photography,

Thanks for the feedback, Rob. I've left the item as is, and the answer remains the same (False). However, I've changed the accompanying explanation to indicate that some national parks do adjust admission fees seasonally, although most do not.


We have a few hundred hardy ice fishermen who cross ice to visit mostly the innermost of the Apostle Islands, although there's a story one former employee told of driving his pickup all the way out to Devils Island -- the northernmost -- one particularly cold winter. I've seen a few (human) tracks when I've skied out to islands, but not very many. The NPS issues only a handful of winter camping permits a year, so the non-fishing use is really small.

As to why to we live and work in places that get this cold, right about now I ask myself that same question. On the other hand, if you really dislike very hot weather, as I do, you relish this climate in July and August. And the autumns, short as they are, rock. The problem isn't really how cold it is up here, the problem is how long the cold lasts!

[and Kurt, for reasons unknown, today the map shows up in Firefox when it didn't the other day]

You can keep your snow and cold, Bob. The summer heat down here in South Carolina may be disagreeable, but at least I don't have to shovel it. Here's an arcane fact for you. My Masters thesis, a tome that dealt with human biometeorology, investigated the way that weather systems and perceptions of heat and cold affect human comfort in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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