National Park Quiz 71: Are There Any?

These ruins at Aztec Ruins National Monument aren't Aztec ruins. National Park Service photo.

1. True or false? There aren’t any plants and animals on the Devils Tower summit.

2. True or false? There aren’t any structures in Haleakala National Park that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

3. True or false? There aren’t any grizzly bears in California’s national parks.

4. True or false? There aren’t any places to buy gasoline within Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

5. True or false? There aren’t any commercial air tour companies operating in Rocky Mountain National Park airspace.

6. True or false? There aren’t any commercial logging operations within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

7. True or false? There aren’t any active volcanoes in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

8. True or false? There aren’t any lifeguarded beaches in Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

9. True or false? There have been no verified sightings of blue whales within the waters of Channel Islands national Park.

10. True or false? No one has found a fossilized reptile skeleton or bones within the Grand Canyon National Park.

Extra Credit Question:

11. Given that there aren’t any Aztec ruins in Aztec Ruins National Monument, how did the name “Aztec” came to be associated with the ruins that this park preserves?

Super Bonus Question:

12. Upon my return from a hiking trip in Haleakala National Park I told my next-door neighbor that I had seen small piles of squid beaks -– fresh ones -- near the summit of 10,023 foot high Haleakala. My neighbor insisted that there couldn’t have been any squid beaks in such a place, and that I should try switching to a less potent adult beverage. He was wrong. I did see those squid beaks. Can you explain how they got there?

Answers:

(1) False. There are native grasses, cacti, and sagebrush growing on the top of Devils Tower, which is about the size of a football field. Climbers sometimes see chipmunks, mice, pack rats, and snakes up there.

(2) False. Haleakala National Park has three Civilian Conservation Corps-built wilderness cabins. Accessible only by trail, these cabins are popular with overnight hikers and must be reserved well in advance.

(3) True. The fact that grizzlies no longer roam anywhere in California is a pretty sad legacy for a state that features a grizzly bear on its state flag.

(4) True. Motorists must make sure that they have enough gas before entering Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

(5) True. A Congressionally-mandated overflight ban is in effect at Rocky Mountain National Park. Even overflights for research purposes are severely restricted to critical needs.

(6) False. Pictured Rocks National lakeshore has a formally designated “inland buffer zone” established for the purpose of protecting the watershed while permitting sustained-yield timber harvest. The land in the park's inland buffer zone is owned by the State of Michigan, corporations, and private citizens.

(7) False. Lassen Peak is an active volcano. It last erupted in 1921, and could erupt again at any time (though it’s not likely to do so unexpectedly).

(8) False. Various beaches in the park are regularly patrolled, and during the warmer months several, including China Beach and Stinson Beach, have lifeguards assigned to them.

(9) False. Each summer, about 10 percent of the global blue whale population gathers off the coast of Southern California in Channel Islands National Park and nearby sanctuary waters. This is the world’s largest concentration of this rare, critically endangered animal.

(10) True. While fossil footprints of around 20 reptile and amphibian species have been found in Grand Canyon National Park, no fossilized teeth or bones have ever been found there.

(11) People once believed that the ancestors of the Aztecs originated in the Southwestern U.S. and migrated southward into Mexico. That’s why early explorers in this region gave names like Aztec, Montezuma, or Toltec to the Indian ruins they found there.

(12) Sea birds did it. Haleakala has a population of Hawaiian dark-rumped petrels (Uau) that nest near the Haleakala summit, presumably to avoid predators. These squid-eating birds regurgitate the indigestible beaks just outside their burrow entrances.

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.