You are here

National Park Quiz 81: Vertigo

The trail that leads from the cliff top to this Ancestral Puebloan dwelling in Mesa Verde National Park drops a whopping 100 feet in just a quarter-mile. And then you get to that l-o-n-g steep ladder you see there. National Park Service photo.

1. The accompanying photo shows ______ , an Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park that visitors can access only by climbing down a steep trail and negotiating a 34-foot ladder.
a. Square Tower House
b. Spruce Tree House
c. Balcony House
d. Cliff Palace

2. Jefferson National Expansion Memorial visitors who take the Gateway Arch tram to enjoy stunning panoramic views of the St. Louis vicinity ride inside the legs of the arch in five-seat pods that take four minutes to get to the observation deck atop the ______ - foot high structure.
a. 505
b. 630
c. 700
d. 812

3. If you were sitting on the edge of the ______, the tallest cliff in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, your feet would be dangling 2,250 feet above the Gunnison River.
a. Painted Wall
b. Salathe Wall
c. Endless Wall
d. Chinese Wall

4. Many a climber of glaciated mountains has slipped and fallen to his death from ______ , a long, narrow ridge or spur that has dangerously steep slopes on both sides of its crest.
a. an arête
b. an alpenglow
c. a bergshrund
d. a cirque

5. True or false? Yosemite National Park regulations allow a park visitor to set up and walk a slackline suspended thousands of feet above the valley floor.

6. True or false? New River Gorge National River visitors can take ranger-led tours of the New River Gorge Bridge catwalk, which is suspended more than 800 feet above the river.

7. True or false? In Zion National Park more fatal falls have occurred on Angels Landing Trail, a very exposed route that climbs nearly 1,500 feet vertical feet along a steep, narrow ridge, than on all of the other park trails combined.

8. True of false? To tour the Skywalk that juts out from the Grand Canyon’s rim over 4,000 feet of empty space, people must pay a tour fee and possess a valid Grand Canyon National Park admission pass.

9. True or false? People with reservations to visit the Statue of Liberty’s crown may climb to the crown’s observation deck via the double-helix stairway, but are not permitted to climb the ladder that extends into the torch.

10. True or false? Every year, crews suspended by ropes attached to the top of Mount Rushmore National Memorial inspect the huge granite sculptures, seal surface cracks, and perform related work.

Extra Credit Question:

11. What is the main difference between vertigo and acrophobia?

Super Bonus Question:

12. Which actress played the female lead (with James Stewart) in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic psychological thriller Vertigo?


(1) c -– The steep trail and long ladder aren’t the only hurdles for phobics visiting Mesa verde’s Balcony House. People leaving the Balcony House must traverse a 12-foot tunnel that wasn’t designed with claustrophobics in mind.

(2) b -– The Gateway Arch is the tallest monument in the National Park System. Towering 630 feet from base to top, it is 75 feet taller than the Washington Monument and over twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty. If the 60-foot heads carved on the face of Mount Rushmore were attached to bodies at the same scale, the resulting men would stand 465 feet tall and could walk through the legs of the Arch with plenty of room to spare.

(3) a -– The 2,250-foot high Painted Wall is the tallest cliff in the park and the tallest cliff in Colorado. The tallest skyscraper in America would not reach to the top of this cliff.

(4) a -– An arête is formed on a mountainside when adjacent glaciers deeply erode the intervening rock, leaving only a narrow, often saw-toothed ridge between them. Climbers come to grief on arête routes when they fall off, get blown off by fierce winds, or plunge through the snow cornices extending from their crests.

(5) True. This feat was first accomplished in 1985 when Scott Balcom successfully walked a 55-foot slackline strung to Lost Arrow Spire and suspended 2,900 feet above the valley floor. The feat has since been duplicated by various other freestyle slackliners. For protection, slackliners wear a harness tethered to the slackline.

(6) False. The state of West Virginia owns the New River Gorge Bridge and regulates access to the maintenance catwalk, a 30-inch wide, 3,030 foot-long steel apparatus suspended 30 feet below the bridge and 850 feet above the river. A state-licensed concessionaire was authorized to begin offering catwalk tours this spring.

(7) False. Although the beautiful-but-dangerous Angels Landing Trail is notorious for fatalities, more fatal falls have been recorded on Zion’s less publicized Emerald Pools Trail system.

(8) False. The Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped, glass bottom walkway jutting 70 feet out from the Grand Canyon’s rim, is not in Grand Canyon National Park. Opened to great fanfare in March 2007, the $30 million tourist attraction is a commercial venture located on land belonging to the Hualapai tribe.

(9) True. There is ladder providing access to the Statue of Liberty’s torch, but it’s been closed to the public since 1916.

(10) True. The gravity-defying work is performed because the National Park Service long-range preservation plan for the memorial calls for cleaning and sealing cracks (with a silicone compound) on a frequent basis, as well as fracture- and crack-mapping the granite surface, removing vegetation, testing new sealant materials, clearing away hazardous rock debris, and performing other necessary tasks.

(11) Acrophobia is an abnormal fear of high places. Vertigo is a feeling of dizziness that occurs when your sense of balance has been disrupted, and you don’t need to be in a high place -– or even standing upright -- for that to occur.

(12) Actress Kim Novak played the role of the lovely (albeit ethically-challenged) Madeleine Elster in the 1958 film classic Vertigo. BTW, the blonde actress who played the role of James Stewart’s secretary was Barbara Bel Geddes, who was later cast in the role of “Miss Ellie” Ewing in the long-running TV series Dallas.

: 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.


WOW! I got 8! I am surprised that I knew even THAT much. Having been born and raised in St Louis, The Arch was a given. If I had missed that one I would have my "Loo" card revoked!

Nice going, Connie. This was a tough one. Eight's a damn fine score.

8 correct, plus both extra credit. Do I get extra cosmic brownie points for having been to Balcony House, Painted Wall, Angels Landing, and (I think) various aretes?

Never have heard of "extra cosmic brownie points" before, but if there is such a thing, I believe you richly deserve some. Heck, you should get at least five or six ECBPs just for knowing that Kim Novak starred in Vertigo. :o)

Eleven correct answers is a tie for my personal record.

[Thanks to MRC for spotting a typo in the answer to #3 (correct explanation of the answer, but wrong letter identifier) that's since been corrected. Ed./Quizmeister]

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide