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How Much Do You Know About Winter In The National Park System?


In which national park can you be serenaded by balladeers this winter? DNC Parks and Resorts photo.

How much do you really know about winter in the National Park System? Take the following quiz and see how you match up with Traveler's quizmeister, who surfaced for the holidays.

1. During the winter months, which of the following parks routinely offers the best conditions for stargazing?

A. Biscayne National Park

B. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

C. Glacier Bay National Park

D. Natural Bridges National Monument

2. Which of the following national parks has the greatest annual snowfall?

A. Crater Lake National Park

B. Wrangell St. Elias National Park & Preserve

C. Mt. Rainier National Park

D. Glacier National Park

3. Which of the following national parks is closed to visitors (no recreational activities permitted) for the entire winter season?

A. North Cascades National Park

B. Crater Lake National Park

C. Isle Royale National Park

D. Denali National Park & Preserve

4. All of the following national parks have lift-serviced snow skiing areas within their borders EXCEPT:

A. Rocky Mountain National Park

B. Olympic National Park

C. Yosemite National Park

D. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

5. 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 & Resort

D. Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel

6. Many people observe birds in national parks to get information for the National Audubon’s 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. Petrified Forest National Park

B. Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

C. Scotts Bluff National Monument

D. Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

7. Which individual would be most likely to suffer from hypothermia after lengthy exposure to cold while visiting a national park?

A. an average-sized teenage boy

B. an average-sized teenage girl

C. an overweight 40-something woman

D. a slender 76-year old man

8. Which of the following park roads is kept open to traffic most winter days instead of being closed by snow and ice for months on end?

A. Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park

B. Rim Drive in Crater Lake National Park

C. Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

D. Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park

9. Ice climbers love to climb frozen waterfalls, seeps, and giant icicles. Which of the following national parks in the 48-state U.S. is considered to offer the best ice climbing opportunities on a year-in-year-out basis?

A. Yosemite National Park

B. Glacier National Park

C. Voyageurs National Park

D. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

10. According to official weather records, December and January afternoon temperatures are typically less than 70 °F in

A. Dry Tortugas National Park

B. Virgin Islands National Park

C. Everglades National Park

D. Saguaro National Park

11. True/false. Snow may fall at any time of the year in portions of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

12. True/False Bears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park remain active throughout the winter.

13. True/False By mid-winter, most of the islands in Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are linked to the mainland by ice roads.

14. True/False Winter visitors at California’s Point Reyes National Seashore can view female gray whales accompanied by calves.

15. True/False Cross country skiing is permitted on the carriage roads in Maine’s Acadia National Park.

16. True/False Snowmobiling is permitted on the Grand Loop road system in Yellowstone National Park.

17. True/False Some swans remain in Yellowstone National Park throughout the winter.

18. True/False It is illegal to install ice fishing shanties for seasonal use in a national park.

19. True/False At Grand Canyon National Park, mule trips into the canyon are suspended during the winter.

20. True/False The highest average monthly wind speeds at North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras National Seashore are recorded during the winter.

Bonus Question:

21. Acadia National Park and Yellowstone National Park are both situated at or close to the 45th parallel, which is halfway between the equator and the North Pole. State two important reasons why Yellowstone’s winters are a lot colder than Acadia’s.


1. D. Utah's Natural Bridges National Monument has been certified as an International Dark Sky Park. On some moonless nights in the park, it's possible for a stargazer to see his shadow from the glow of Venus, Jupiter, or even the Milky Way.

2. C. The Paradise area of Mt. Rainier National Park is the snowiest place in America, averaging 680 inches a year. Paradise may be the snowiest place on earth where snowfall is regularly measured.

3. C. Transportation difficulties, harsh winter weather, and wildlife protection needs make it necessary to close Isle Royale National Park from November to April and temporarily relocate the park headquarters to Houghton in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

4. A. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado has no lift-serviced ski area, but skiers can use lift-serviced ski areas in Washington’s Olympic National Park (Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area), California’s Yosemite National Park (Badger Pass Ski Area) and Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Boston Mills/Brandywine Ski Resort, a dual-resort complex with partner ski resorts situated a few miles apart).

5. D. The Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel is a Christmas holiday tradition dating to 1927. Staged multiple times during the Christmas holiday season, including Christmas Eve, the Bracebridge Dinner offers an elegant Christmas dinner and an elaborate pageant featuring dozens of singers and other performers in Renaissance era attire.

6. B. Great Sand Dunes National Park & 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.

7. D. The elderly are most susceptible to hypothermia because they are more likely to have some combination of decreased heat production, increased heat loss, vasodilation, or drug-induced impairment. Thin people and small children are also at greater risk because they have a large skin area relative to their mass.

8. A. Shenandoah’s Skyline Drive is kept open during the winter, except for short periods after snow storms or when icing makes driving hazardous.

9. B. Glacier National Park is one of the very best places for ice climbing, since it abounds in frozen waterfalls, curtains, seeps, and pillars.

10. D. Arizona’s Saguaro National Park has an average daily maximum temperature of about 66 °F during the months of December and January.

11. True. Snow can occur in any month in the upper elevations of 13,679-foot Mauna Loa in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

12. False. Although bears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park 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.

13. False. Maintaining a system of ice roads at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore would be impractical and risky. Ice conditions in this part of Lake Superior vary greatly and can change quickly.

14. False. The gray whales that visitors see at Point Reyes during the winter months have fed in the rich waters of the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean during the summer and are headed south to spend the winter and bear their young in the shallow lagoons of Mexico’s Baja California. It is during the reverse migration in the spring that visitors can see females escorting calves.

15. True. Acadia National 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.

16. True. Yellowstone’s groomed snowmobile trails are on the park roads. Off-road snowmobiling is prohibited in the park.

17. True. Although some of Yellowstone’s trumpeter swans migrate seasonally, a small resident population remains in the park year round.

18. False. Fishermen may use ice fishing shanties (“icehouses”) in some national parks. For example, shanties may be installed on lakes in Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park provided they are situated far enough away from snowmobile trails and the Rainy Lake ice road.

19. False. At Grand Canyon National Park, mule trips from the South Rim are offered on a year round basis.

20. True. Although you might reasonably think that the windiest months in this notoriously windy place occur during the June-November hurricane season, January, February, and March have the highest average wind speeds (about 12 miles per hour at Hatteras Island).

Bonus Question: At any given latitude, colder winters generally occur in places that are further from the oceans and higher in elevation. Yellowstone is situated deep in the continental interior and high in the central Rocky Mountains, whereas Acadia is situated on the Atlantic Coast at elevations much closer to sea level.


So, how good is 14 out of 20, plus getting the bonus question right? [g]

What fun! Thanks Bob.

That doesn't mean I got too many right, just that the quiz was fun.


I don't have data to back me up, Megaera, but I'll bet that 14+ items correct is well above average for this quiz. It'd be helpful to have some other readers report their scores.

I'm glad you enjoyed the quiz, Danny, because I sure have enjoyed reading your articles in the Traveler.

Bob, I got 8 of 20 wrong but did get the bonus question.

Not sure how to score it -- I missed five but got the bonus correct. So I guess that's an overall score of 16/20.

Thank you, Bob. These quizzes are really fun and I'm glad to have them back. It must be a big project to make one of them up for us. It requires far more knowledge to invent a quiz than it does to take it.

I missed #20. Thanks for the fun quiz, and good to have you back, Bob, even part-time!

Which is why, Tahoma, the Wright Brothers made their first powered flights at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903. They had spent a couple of other Decembers there flying their gliders. They could stand the cold in December, but by the time January came around the winds were too cold for even their hardy constitutions.

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