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National Park Quiz 58: Tunnels

Do you know where this tunnel is and why it was built? Bob Janiskee photo.

1. True or false? Most of the tunnels on the Blue Ridge Parkway are in the North Carolina portion of the parkway.

2. True or false? Yosemite National Park’s tram tour of Mariposa Grove passes through the Wawona Tunnel Tree.

3. True or false? The Wawona Tunnel in Yosemite National Park has been cited for serious safety deficiencies.

4. True or false? Manmade tunnels connect several caverns at Timpanogos Cave National Monument.

5. True or false? Unstable rock formations prevented the construction of tunnels to improve visitor access at Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park.

6. The Railroad Trail at _____ gives hikers the chance to walk through five tunnels on an old rail bed from which the tracks were removed long ago.
a. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
b. Craters of the Moon National Monument
c. Little River Canyon National Preserve
d. Lake Mead National Recreation Area

7. In ______, there is a North Shore “Road to Nowhere” that ends abruptly at a closed-to-vehicular-traffic tunnel whose far end connects with a foot trail leading down to Forney Creek.
a. Shenandoah National Park
b. Mammoth Cave National Park
c. New River Gorge National River
d. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

8. If you want to take the Left Hand Tunnel Tour, you’ll need to visit
a. Mammoth Cave National Park
b. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
c. Wind Cave National Park
d. Jewel Cave National Monument

9. If you’ve just returned from a backpacking trip and you’re telling your friends what a kick it was to walk through the Ptarmigan Tunnel, it’s obvious that you’ve been hiking in
a. Glacier National Park
b. Grand Canyon National Park
c. Zion National Park
d. Denali National Park

10. The Staple Bend Tunnel is a component of
a. Blue Ridge Parkway
b. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
c. Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
d. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Extra Credit Question:

11. A highway tunnel situated less than two air miles east of a national park entrance became the longest tunnel in the United States when it was completed in 1930. Name the park and tell which two nearby national parks were made readily accessible from this park by the tunnel and highway project.

Super Bonus Question:

12. The accompanying photo shows an opposing pair of steeply sloping walkways converging on a tunnel. In which national park was this photo taken, and what purpose does the tunnel serve?


(1) True. Only one of the parkway’s 26 tunnels is in Virginia. All of the rest are in North Carolina, where the terrain is generally higher, steeper, and more rockslide-prone.

(2) False. Unfortunately, the renowned Wawona Tunnel Tree, a giant sequoia that had an opening cut through its base in 1881, toppled in February 1969. The park still provides free tram tours though Mariposa Grove, and the Wawona Tunnel Tree still lies where it fell.

(3) True. The Interior Department’s Inspector General issued a report in 2008 that drew attention to maintenance lapses and characterized the Wawona Tunnel as “a serious threat to human safety.” Among other deficiencies, the tunnel was found to lack fire escape exits, carbon monoxide sensors, and properly working exhaust fans.

(4) True. Though initially separated, the three caves at Timpanogos Cave National Monument – Timpanogos, Middle, and Hansen – are now interconnected by two manmade tunnels that were constructed in 1937.

(5) False. In fact, visitors now enter Lehman Caves via a tunnel completed in 1939 and exit the cave via a tunnel of similar construction added in the 1960s. Despite the name, Lehman Caves is a single cave.

(6) d -– The Railroad Trail at Lake Mead National Recreation Area takes hikers through five 300-foot long, 25-foot diameter tunnels cut through volcanic ridges in 1931 for a railroad needed to haul equipment and materials for the construction of Hoover Dam. The railroad tracks were removed in 1962.

(7) d -– This particular “Road to Nowhere” – real name Lakeview Drive -- is a scenic highway extending about eight miles into Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the north shore of Fontana Lake.

(8) b -– The Left Hand Tunnel Tour in Carlsbad Caverns is a guided, lantern-lit “adventure tour” of about two hours duration on dirt trails in an undeveloped section of the cave.

(9) a -- Situated on a trail at 7,200 feet, the 250-foot long Ptarmigan Tunnel in Glacier National Park passes through a sheer wall and allows hikers to pass between Many Glacier and the Belly River Valley without a strenuous climb over very steep terrain.

(10) c – The 901-foot Staple Bend Tunnel, America’s first railroad tunnel, is a component of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site. The tunnel was completed in 1834 as part of a system designed to facilitate continuous freight and passenger traffic between the Ohio River and the Susquehanna River.

(11) The 1.1 mile-long Zion Mount Carmel Tunnel, which was dedicated on July 4, 1930, was an essential component of the Utah Highway 9 route linking Zion National Park to Grand Canyon National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.

(12) This tunnel passes under a two-lane road at Mesa Verde National Park and connects the park’s Far View Visitor Center with the visitor parking lot on the opposite side of the road.

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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