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National Park Week Quiz #7: Word Cube Brain Twister

Welcome to National Park Week Quiz #7! If you can satisfactorily complete this word cube exercise before 12:00 midnight EST today you will be eligible for Traveler’s National Park Week prize drawing and a chance to win a National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map for the national park of your choice.


(1) Draw a 3 x 3 grid on a sheet of paper as though you were going to play a game of tic-tac-toe.

(2) Print the letters K, E, and C in the three cells of the top row, then print S, R, and Y in the middle row and G, O, and F in the bottom row.

(3) Circle the R in the middle cell of your grid. You will need to keep that R in mind.

Definition of Terms

National park. A national park is a National Park System unit. There are currently 397 national parks.

Stem. A stem is the portion of a national park name that is not a category or type designation. For example, the stem of Grand Canyon National Park is Grand Canyon, the stem of Lake Mead National Recreation Area is Lake Mead, and the stem of Blue Ridge Parkway is Blue Ridge.

National park stem word. A national park stem word is any word that appears in the stem of a national park name. In the three examples provided above, the stem words are Grand, Canyon, Lake, Mead, Blue, and Ridge. National, Park, Recreation, Area, and Parkway are not national park stem words because none is part of a stem in these examples.

Grid letter. A grid letter is a letter occupying a cell of the 3 x 3 grid. The nine grid letters are K, E, C, S, R, Y, G, O, and F.

Middle letter. The middle letter is the letter in the center cell of the grid. Make sure that the middle letter in your grid is R.


Using just the grid letters, create 12 national park stem words.


(1) The middle letter (R) must be used at least once in every national park stem word that you create. A stem word that does not contain the letter R will be disqualified.

(2) Any grid letter, including the middle letter, may be used more than once when creating a stem word.

(3) A word you create from the grid must be an independent word in a national park stem. That is, the word cannot be part of a longer word.

Just 12 out of 15 is all you need

By following these rules it is possible to create 15 national park stem words drawn from the names of more than two dozen national parks (two of which have two qualifying stem words).

Answers and a list of readers who answered correctly will be posted in tomorrow's Traveler.

No cheating!

If we catch you Googling or engaged in other sneakery, we will make you write on the whiteboard 100 times:

The pencil-and-paper game known in the United States as tic-tac-toe, tick-tack-toe, tick-tat-toe, or tit-tat-toe, goes by other names in various parts of the world, such as naughts and crosses in Australia, X’s and O’s in Ireland, wick-wack-woe in China, and X-O in Mauritius.


Welcome to the winners circle, OutInTheStiks! All is forgiven.

Welcome to the winners circle, celbert, and to the concierge floor. It being Friday, you'll want to get to the amenities room early to avoid the rush.

Bob Janiskee:
Wait a minute, Ken. Are you admitting, right here in front of God and everybody, that you (gasp!) used a published list to find your answers? You do realize that's sneakery, don't you?

Uh - who would ever admit it even if everybody does it? I personally have every NPS site name committed to memory. Maybe.

EEW, since you've become a frequent visitor to the winners circle, I know that you are a person of sound intellect. This leaves me to marvel at the fact that 12 of the 13 words on the list you submitted are incorrect. (I suspect that this may be a new world record, so I am having one of our office lackeys check it out.) Please read the directions again very carefully before you resubmit.

Gosh, y_p_w, am I to understand that sneakery is rampant out there? Another illusion shattered. I may need to change my whole approach to this thing.

Bob Janiskee:
Gosh, y_p_w, am I to understand that sneakery is rampant out there? Another illusion shattered. I may need to change my whole approach to this thing.

I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

Your winnings, sir.

Oh, thank you very much.

Good job, y_p_w. Since I plan to visit your park in the reasonably near future, and therefore have reason to curry favor, you've got a Gold Star pass with valet parking, a comped room on the concierge floor (corner if you want it), and turndown service with an extra chocolate nibbly.

PS: Don't you love to play poker with people who think that it's a game of chance?

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