National Park Mystery Spot 21 Revealed: Lots of Stars Have Done Their Thing Here

You were challenged to identify National Park Mystery Spot 21 using these clues:

The warm, dry winds fan fearsome fires that turn hillside homes into flaming pyres.

The largest spread in the second-largest state.

Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón.

Supremely important.

Gunfight at the OK Corral + Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman = clue.

Bonus hint, no extra charge: Samoa gets no cigar.

The answer is Paramount Ranch , a historic "movie ranch" in southern California's Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Santa Monica Mts. National Recreation Area is an urban-oriented park primarily serving as a day-tripping attraction for residents of greater Los Angeles. A 750-acre tract of the historic Paramount Ranch that the National Park Service purchased in 1980 is now one of the park's best known attractions.

Here's how to work with the clues.

In 1836, Mexican troops under the command of General Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón captured the Alamo Mission and martyred its nearly 200 defenders. Since the general's full name is unmanageably long, it's almost invariably shortened to Santa Anna.

The strong, desert-dry offshore winds that sweep through the Los Angeles Basin and some other areas of southern California are called Santa Ana winds. Heated by compression as they flow down mountainsides en route to the sea, these warm, gusty winds fan the huge brush fires that so often threaten hillside homes in this region during the dry season.

Something that is supremely important is of paramount importance.

In the western states, spread is another word for ranch or farm. The famed King Ranch in Texas, which encompasses a mind-boggling 825,000 acres (1,289 square miles), is the largest ranch in the United States.

Many dozens of movies and television programs have been filmed at Paramount Ranch -- named for its original owner, Paramount Studios -- since it was established in 1927. Most Americans have seen this movie ranch on the big or small screen many times, likely without realizing it. Over the years, the ranch's sets and other filming sites have hosted many Hollywood stars and served as stand-ins for many towns and locales, both real and fictitious. The ranch was Tombstone, Arizona, for the filming of the classic movie Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957) and Dodge City, Kansas, for the filming of the long-running TV series Gunsmoke. More recently, the popular TV series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (151 episodes, 1993-1998) was filmed there.

Oh, yes; about that bonus hint. SAMO is the letter code assigned to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Samoa is therefore a case of "close, but no cigar."

Quizmeister Kudos

Congratulations to Rangertoo, who was the first to ID Mystery Spot 21. Others who correctly identified it included Tomp2, Anon 11:46, Badge529, Jim O, and Greg G.

Comments

Several readers have challenged the quizmeister's use of this clue for the Mystery Spot 21 puzzler: "The largest spread in the second-largest state." Sorry, but that's not a bad clue. In fact, its a very good clue.

Rangertoo and the other readers who came up with the correct answer used this reasoning:

(1) "The largest spread in the second-largest state" is the King Ranch in Texas. There is no other place in America that can be described that way.

(2) The King Ranch is not within a national park. This is a vital fact, since it means that largest spread in the second-largest state" cannot possibly describe the mystery spot itself.

(3) The mystery spot is a place whose description or name has something to do with "king" and/or "ranch.

(4) One possibility is that the mystery spot is a place in the National Park System that also bears the name King Ranch. Another possibility is that the mystery spot has "king" as part of the name. Yet another possibility is that the mystery spot is a ranch or has "ranch" as part of its name.

(5) Better look at the other clues and see which of these possibilities fits. It turns out that only the last one does. (The King Gillette Ranch in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is not a movie ranch.)