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National Park Quiz 67: Potpourri III

These volunteers were photographed at work in Arches National Park. Do you know which park has the most volunteers? National Park Service photo by Neal Herbert.

1. True or false? Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site is closed on President’s Day.

2. True or false? Minuteman Missile National Historic Site preserves the only remaining missile silo installation built in America during the Cold War era.

3. True or false? Yosemite’s famed Ahwahnee Hotel was commandeered for military use during World War II.

4. True or false? The segment of the Appalachian Trail within Great Smoky Mountains National Park is longer than the AT segment within Shenandoah National Park.

5. Of the 58 National Park System units officially designated National Park, ______ are in the coterminous (48-state) U.S.
a. 29
b. 38
c. 40
d. 46

6. Which of the following National Park System units has the lowest percentage of its area classified as federally protected wilderness?
a. Mesa Verde National Park
b. Olympic National Park
c. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
d. Congaree National Park

7. Which of the following national parks was established in a U.S. territory that had not yet achieved statehood?
a. Mesa Verde National Park
b. Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve
c. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
d. Grand Canyon National Park

8. Which National Park-designated National Park System unit in the 48-state U.S. has the lowest annual visitation?

9. Which National Park System unit has the largest number of volunteer workers?

10 Name a National Park System unit with a scenic drive that is subject to periodic closing because of missile testing for weapons development.

Extra Credit Question:

11. To permit sustained-yield timber harvesting while protecting a vital watershed, a non-federally owned inland buffer zone was created within the boundaries of
a. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
b. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
c. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
d. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Super Bonus Question:

12. In 1972, a group of Chicano activists known as the Brown Berets cited the precise wording of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty (which ended the Mexican War [1846-1848]) as reason sufficient for them to seize and reclaim for Mexico an area of land that included an entire national park, namely
a. Grand Canyon National Park
b. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
c. Big Bend National Park
d. Channel Islands National Park


(1) True. President’s Day (Washington’s Birthday) is a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February every year. Ironically, the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site is closed on Mondays. This unit’s announced operating hours are 9:00a.m-5:00 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

(2) False. The initial groundbreaking for the Minuteman silos took place on September 11, 1961 (that’s right -- 9/11) during the Cold War, and Minuteman Missiles are still part of America’s national defense system. There are about 450 of them deployed across the northern Great Plains.

(3) True. The Ahwahnee Hotel was used as a rest and rehabilitation (“R&R”) facility for servicemen during World War II.

(4) False. The Appalachian Trail segment that winds through Great Smoky Mountains National Park is only about 69 miles long, whereas the AT segment in Shenandoah National Park is about 101 miles long.

(5) d – In addition to the 46 National Park-designated National Park System units within the 48-state U.S., there are eight National Parks in Alaska, two in Hawaii, one in the Virgin Islands, and one in American Samoa.

(6) a – With only about 16% of its 52,000-acre holdings consisting of federally designated wilderness, Mesa Verde National Park is the laggard here. The federally designated wilderness proportions are much higher for Olympic National Park (95%), Carlsbad Caverns National Park (70%), and Congaree National Park (62%).

(7) c -- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was established in 1916 when Hawaii was still a U.S. territory (it didn’t become a state until 1959). Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 when Colorado was already a state (1876; it is the "centennial state"). Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve (former Gates of the Arctic National Monument, estab. 1978) was authorized in 1980 when Alaska had already been a state since 1959. Grand Canyon National Park was established in 1919, via transfer of Grand Canyon National Monument from the U.S. Forest Service, seven years after Arizona attained statehood in 1912.

(8) Isle Royale National Park, which reported annual visitation of just 14,038 in 2008, is by far the least-visited National Park-designated National Park System unit in the 48-state U.S.

(9) No other park in the world has more volunteers than Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which has approximately 20,000 volunteer workers assisting nearly 350 Park Service employees.

(10) At White Sands National Monument, the Dunes Drive is subject to closing as a public safety measure during missile testing at the adjacent White Sands Missile Range. U.S. Highway 70 between White Sands National Monument and Las Cruces may also be closed at times for the same reason.

(11) a -- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan's Upper Peninsula is the only National Lakeshore -- and possibly the only National Park System unit -- that has a non-Federally owned inland buffer zone within its authorized boundaries. The land in the buffer zone is owned by the State of Michigan, corporations, and private citizens.

(12) d –- The Brown Berets pointed out that the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty did not specifically mention the Channel Islands as land to be transferred to U.S. ownership and insisted that the U.S. had been illegally occupying the islands since 1852. It is exceedingly unlikely that the International Court of Justice would ever award the Channel Islands to Mexico.

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.


The original question #11 was problematic and has been replaced. As tomp has pointed out (nice catch!), Miami-Dade County is not the only U.S. County that borders on two or more National Park-designated NPS units. Rather than messing around with a fix, your humbled quizmeister has elected to throw out the question.

Thanks to a heads up from Anon, a poorly chosen distractor has been replaced in question #7. Katmai National Monument was established (mainly to preserve the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes) in 1918, well in advance of Alaska statehood. Thus, while it is technically correct to say that Katmai National Park was created through a redesignation in 1980, it's much more accurate to say that Katmai was already an NPS unit in 1918. There is no mention of Katmai in the revised question #7.

The quizmeister also expanded the answer for question #7 to include a more detailed explanation of why Grand Canyon National Park cannot be considered a correct answer to the question.

Your answer on Grand Canyon for #7 is correct, but the history is even more complicated. Grand Canyon was established as a forest reserve in 1893, administered by the Government Land Office, part of DOI. From 1905 - 1908 it was a Forest Reserve administered by Forest Service; 1908-1919 it was a National Monument administered by Forest Service. In 1919 it became a National Park, administered by NPS. The trail since then actually becomes murkier: separate NPS lands data for Marble Canyon NM (1969-1975) from establishment until merger with Grand Canyon NP makes sense, but why are there separate NPS lands data for Grand Canyon NM versus Grand Canyon NP until 1975: was there a _second_ Grand Canyon National Monument designated and then merged with the National Park in 1975? Now that would be a real stumper in a quiz!

I think #7 was a fairly simple question about when a place achieved a full National Park designation.

After Grand Canyon National Park was established in 1919, incorporating the Forest Service-administered Grand Canyon National Monument, a second Grand Canyon National Monument was created (on December 22, 1932). It was this second Grand Canyon National Monument that existed until 1975. On January 3, 1975, Grand Canyon National Park was greatly expanded in size by the addition of this second Grand Canyon National Monument, Marble Canyon National Monument, portions of Glen Canyon and Lake Mead national recreation areas and additional lands.

Here's another thing to ponder. If you visit the National Park Service History website and go to the section on National Park System Birthdays, this is what the entry for Grand Canyon National Park looks like:

January 11, 1908 — Grand Canyon National Monument, Arizona. (Later Grand Canyon National Park, 1919)

Since Grand Canyon National Monument belonged to the U.S. Forest Service in 1908, and could in no way be considered a national park at that time, the users of this listing can be forgiven if they are a little confused about what anniversary date should be celebrated at Grand Canyon National Park.

Regarding question # 1:

It always broke my heart that Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace NHS, as well as Federal Hall National Memorial , as well as General Grant National Memorial, all in Manhattan & ALL dedicated to extremely significant historical figures and Presidents (T. Roosevelt; G. Washington's inaugural site; Grant's Tomb) are ALL closed on President's Day.

That is how tight the budget is for the national parks in Manhattan, or how unimaginative the leadership. At one point, an NPS Deputy Director had secured assurances that all these sites would be opened the following President's Day. Unfortunately, he and the Regional Director and the park manager all changed the next year. So, once again the sites were again closed on the very day they would most likely draw special attention.

Weekends and holidays are not the right days to close historic sites, anyway.

Thanks very much for expanding on that answer, d-2. I was sorely temped to include all of the Manhattan sites in the stem of question 1, but I wasn't 100% certain. It still boggles my mind that parks honoring presidents are closed on President's Day. I'll bet that a goodly number of Traveler readers who worked on this quiz thought "can't be true!" when they checked on the answer for question number one.

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