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National Park Quiz 69: Camping

What's your pleasure: Remote backcountry campsite, or frontcountry campground? Kurt Repanshek photo.

1. True or false? Golden Age Passport holders are entitled to reduced camping fees in national parks.

2. True or false? Some campsites in national park campgrounds are reserved for use by people with disabilities.

3. True or false? Biscayne National Park lacks designated campgrounds.

4. True of false? When camping in the backcountry of Death Valley National Park, campers must choose sites not more than two miles from the nearest paved road.

5. True or false? There are vehicle-accessible campgrounds on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

6. True or false? In Yellowstone National Park, both Shoshone Lake and Yellowstone Lake have campsites that are accessible only by boat.

7. Camping is permitted only within designated campgrounds in
a. Acadia National Park.
b. Congaree National Park
c. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
d. Cape Lookout National Seashore

8. Do you like to combine camping with stargazing? If you snag a site in the little 13-site campground in ______ , you can pitch your tent in the first International Dark-Sky Park.
a. Little River Canyon National Preserve
b. Cumberland Island National Seashore
c. Natural Bridges National Monument
d. Bryce Canyon National Park

9. When camping in a Yosemite National Park campground, you should store your food in
a. the trunk of your car
b. a food storage locker
c. a sturdy sack hung at least 10 feet above the ground
d. your tent
e. somebody else’s tent

10. Apgar Campground: Glacier National Park as Sunset Campground: Death Valley National Park and ______ : Great Smoky Mountains National Park. [ “:” means “is to”]
a. Cades Cove Campground
b. Cataloochee Campground
c. Smokemont Campground
d. Elkmont Campground

Extra Credit Question:

11. Which frontcountry (vehicle-accessible) campground in Yellowstone National Park gives you the best odds of seeing wolves?
a. Soda Butte
b. Slough Creek
c. Indian Creek
d. Pebble Creek

Super Bonus Question:

12. If I were to tell my friend that I used some chickees during a recent nine-day visit to a national park, he would immediately know which park I had visited and could probably also name the trail that I had used. What does my friend know that leads him to these conclusions?


(1) True. The Golden Age Passport, which is still valid (though superseded by the new America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass – Senior Pass) is not just a lifetime entrance pass to national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas, and national wildlife refuges that charge an entrance fee. It also entitles the passport signee to a 50% discount on federal use fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, parking, boat launching, and tours.

(2) True. For example, Yosemite National Park’s sprawling Upper Pines Campground has three sites (numbers 21, 27, and 42) that are reserved for use by people with disabilities. These sites are wheelchair-accessible and have picnic tables with extended tops.

(3) False. Biscayne has designated campgrounds on Boca Chita Key and Elliott Key. Backcountry camping is strictly limited in the park.

(4) False. Backcountry campers at Death Valley must choose sites beyond two miles from the nearest developed area, paved road, or "day use only" area.

(5) True. There are vehicle accessible (frontcountry) campgrounds on the South Rim at Grand Canyon Village and at Desert View near the park’s east entrance.

(6) True. These are, in fact, the only two places in the park with campsites that are accessible only by boat.

(7) a – No backcountry or backpacking-style camping is permitted anywhere in Acadia National Park.

(8) c – In 2007, the International Dark-Sky Association chose Natural Bridges National Monument to receive the association’s first-ever International Dark-Sky Park designation. At that time of the award, Natural Bridges was the darkest national park yet documented and the only one to receive the best possible light pollution rating (Bortle class 2).

(9) b – Every site in Yosemite’s 13 developed campgrounds is equipped with a metal food storage locker (“bear box”) big enough to hold a good-sized ice chest. Campers are required to store their food in these bear boxes. Since a zero tolerance policy is enforced, anyone caught storing food improperly ends up paying a hefty fine.

(10) d -- Elkmont Campground is the largest campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just as the other two parks are the largest campgrounds in their respective parks.

(11) b -- Slough Creek Campground is your best choice. In 2008, Slough Creek fell within the overlapping or adjoining territories of five wolf packs -- Slough Creek, Druid, Blacktail, Agate and Oxbow. BTW, there is no “Soda Butte Campground” in Yellowstone National Park.

(12) The Wilderness Waterway canoe trail in Everglades National Park, which is typically a nine-day paddling excursion, has campsites available along the route. In places with no dry land, the campsites are chickees -- open-sided huts perched on stilts. While chickees are found in some other places within Everglades National Park, the nine-day length of the visit strongly implies a Wilderness Waterway canoe trip.

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.


There are some places that have specific passes. I think most NPS sites with entrance fees have their own annual passes that cost less than the full interagency pass. In Hawaii the only option short of the full interagency pass is the "Tri-Parks Pass" that's good for the three NPS sites in Hawaii with entrance fees.

Sorry about all the typos and proofreading errors.

I would note that the standard $80 ATB beautiful pass doesn't give any amenities (camping, tours, boat launch, etc) discounts. It's only valid for entrance (and some use) fees. I thought that the same went for the older National Parks Pass or Golden Eagle passes.

I recall that the Senior Pass (or the older Golden Age pass) is only valid for US citizens or legal permanent residents. I've heard of foreign visitors 62 or older coming for extended trips, but who had to pay for the regular pass.

As for the regular passes, I think the key to maximizing validity is to get it on the first of the month, in which case it expires at the end of the same month in the next year. That would give up to 13 months use on the same annual pass.

I think the $80.00 fee for an America The Beautiful pass is way too much. I had a National Parks pass just before the change and used it regularly mostly in national parks and monuments in Colorado. I very rarely use other agencies camping areas. I will wait until I turn 62 in 15 months and buy the permanent $10.00 senior pass. The age for the senior pass should also be lowered to between 55 and 60.

Your memory is spot on re the Golden Eagle Pass offering the same public lands access as the $80 ATB.

For what it's worth, there have been efforts in the Senate to restore the $50 National Parks Pass. Not sure how successful they'll be, however.

I remember that I was planning on a trip to Yosemite just after Christmas 2006. I didn't have any reservations, but that wasn't the peak season and finding a place to stay outside the park is easy. My employer shut down for a week and I had two full weeks off. It was going to be about playing and hiking in the snow.

Then I went down with cold symptoms that didn't improve for 10 days. By then it was too late. I wasn't able to schedule a trip until mid February. By then they'd switched over from the $50 National Parks Pass to the $80 America the Beautiful Pass. That was an additional $30 that didn't do me an good since only used it at NPS sites and I didn't use at all in the tail months of its validity. Now that I think of it, I probably could have saved $3 that I could have used to go to Muir Woods NM the same month, but I wasn't sure if my boss was going to approve my vacation. I did end up getting at least $80 worth out of it, with later trips to Yosemite and SEKI, as well as several NPS visits near home.

The $80 got my wife and myself to quite a few places over 13 months starting August 2008. We actually got to use it at Mt St Helens. Still - I thought the older "Golden Eagle" passes were only $65 with an option to buy a National Parks Pass and buy a $15 endorsement sticker that made it effective the same thing.

YPW, you're right. My mother loves to visit the parks but she is not very well off. She usually avoids all the parks except for the ones I work at so she can get in for free. She simply cannot afford the entrance fees. I know when she turns 62 she will be all over that pass so that she can get into the parks without me.

I consider the $80 pass to be too expensive. I'm also not very well off (lots of student loans!) and it is hard for me to afford that although I scrimp and save to do so. Even though it's only $30 per year difference I miss the old pass. I only visit parks and I perfered having the option to get an inter-agency pass instead of having to get it.

Ranger Holly

I'd think not everyone who qualifies for the senior pass should be assumed to be that well off. Many are living off of fixed incomes. A few might have invested/saved well. I don't know if there can really be an acceptable economic test for federal recreation use fees.

However - as a matter of policy, we've got age-related discounts for all sorts of things. Seniors can get into movies at reduced rates and get discounts or special deals at restaurants.

I have seen the opposite (younger adult) discounts before. The Berkeley Reperatory Theater in Berkeley, California has a special "under 30" half-price deal for theater tickets. Of course they do have blackout dates, but it's a heckuva deal. One can understand that they're hoping to attract younger patrons who might be able to afford full priced tickets as their earnings go up.

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