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.


Congratulations, Ken; you're in. It's a good thing you tossed in some extras. I was getting ready to give you a pass to the concierge floor until I saw that YORK in there. Tsk, tsk.

I did that because I must be using a differnt list of National Parks than you use. I use the list found on the NPS site under the find a park site. I remember from some of my past answers that just because its on that list it not always on your list.
Anyway thanks for the fun.

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?

Incidentally, I don't understand your comment in reply. The list I use is the list of the 397 national parks. That's the list that I should use when creating quiz questions. If the National Park Service, in its infinite wisdom, wants to create a Find A Park list that includes some sites that are not national parks, well, that's not my problem. Bottom line: "York" is not a national park stem word.

If I am grumpier than usual this morning, please cut me some slack. When the South Carolina-Alabama baseball game was suspended last night in the bottom of the eighth inning (lightning/rain), my beloved Gamecocks -- my 5th-ranked, repeat national championship-defending Gamecocks -- were being no-hit by Bama's freshman pitcher. When the game is resumed at 5:00 this afternoon, tied at 0-0, I have only to hope that the Cocks will stop swinging like washerwomen and put this one away.

Yes, JanetinKY, you can use all three of the words you mentioned in your examples.

Kurt's reply to OutInTheSticks:

Please take it easy on the Quizmeister, OutInTheStiks. It's tough enough for him to vet the answers without plowing through extraneous material. Would you please resubmit your answer, listing only the stem words? After all, that is what is specified in the instructions. Thank you very much for your cooperation, valued Traveler reader.

Quizmeister's reply:

#?&*$!*@ instructions!

Good job, viewmtn; you can use the front door. About four hours, as I recollect.


I think my Traveler account has been hacked by someone calling himself the Quizmeister...

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?

Oh, I guess my elephant looks a little lot different, LOL. ROTFL! I knew I should have asked for clarification first! I thought we were playing some new version of tic tac toe, so after drawing my grid I thought we could only use letters in the combinations ERO, SRY, KRF, and GRC, with each combination being used either in that order or backwards. Yes, I have a bad tendency to overthink things. Having eventually come out with approximately the right number of words I thought was in the ballpark. I'm not sure I have enough brain cells (or time!) left to try such a monumental task again :)

C'mon, EEW. Enough about the labor pains. Let's see the baby.

Eric, I was already reaching for your Gold Star Pass when I encountered that awful word on your list. Surely you've discovered it for yourself by now?

Welcome to the winners circle, Ranger Dave. Pick up your Gold Star Pass at the Concierge Desk.

PS: That very last word among the extras you provided is not a stem word. Only the first two words in that park name you are thinking of are stem words. The words that follow constitute a (unique) category descriptor.

I wondered about that. Should have guessed you would have a "unique" category you didn't tell us about.

Oops. I really wish there were an 'A' in the grid. Back to continue contemplating Stems....

Ranger Dave, even though I would not put it past the Quizmeister, he did not invent any "unique" national park designations to use for his own nefarious purposes. Congress can take credit for that. Here's the deal. After you list the National Monuments, National Parks, National Seashores, etc. in their respective categories (designation types), you have 11 national parks left over. That is, you have 11 parks that don't fit neatly into any designation category. So, what do you do? You lump them together under the heading "Other Designations" (bureaucratese for "Miscellaneous"). It happens that the park you and I are talking about is in there with the National Mall, the White House, Constitution Gardens, and seven other oddballs. The Quizmeister will now accept your apology. :o)

Caprice Kutz, you made this look easy. Gold Star Pass.
PS: See the postscript for my comment to Ranger Dave pertaining to unique descriptor. That three-letter word doesn't cut it.

You're in, Eric. Servants entrance. Room on the 18th floor next to the elevator and across from the ice machine.

Apology? Hmmmm. Ok, I apologize for accusing the Quizmeister of backhandedness. And if I ever get to Oz I'm going to pull back that curtain and apologize face to face.

Well done, Kevin M, well done. Gold Star Pass, extra chocolate nibbly with turndown service.

Oz? Surely you jest! (Pause for rejoinder.) I don't live in Oz. I'm not even interested in visiting Oz. It's not a national park.

Just happy to be here

Very impressive, David Crowl, very impressive. You're in. Gold Star Pass with the usual amenities.

Welcome to the private party, volknitter! The professor took a break to ease his own addled brain, but it looks like you've got your baker's dozen!

Good job, Jason. Gold Star Pass. Stay away from the poker game.

You made it with one to spare, JanetinKY. Very nicely done. Gold Star Pass, extra maraschino cherries in your Old Fashioned, extra chocolate nibbly with your turndown service.

This is like Scrabble with a twist. I found that paying attention to the "S" helped.

Take a note, Kurt. If I do another Word Cube quiz, remind me not to use an "S".

Since the first time I expressed my admiration for this game was with my submission and therefore wasn't displayed, I'd like to once again congratulate Bob for coming up with this very inventive and interesting game. I can only imagine the time it took to carefully select the letters so there were only 17 possible answers and not scores of them. Well done!

Please don't encourage the professor, celbert, he's already fairly intolerable to work with...

You're in, ILoveRoadTrips, but I'm afraid you were a bit hasty in taking credit for two extras. Do you see that illegal N there in "Oregon"? That cost you your turndown service and both chocolate nibblies.

It's a pleasure to welcome andcla03 and EEW to the winners circle. Gold Star Passes for both of you.

Kurt Repanshek:
Please don't encourage the professor, celbert, he's already fairly intolerable to work with...
He hinted that he's a "shower optional" guy a few weeks ago. However, I'm guessing he usually works with you remotely.

I'm disappointed, Kurt. I only grade out at fairly intolerable? Must be losing my touch.

Thanks for the kind words, celbert. Word cube or letter grid games of one sort or another have existed for a very long time. Though the content of this one is unique (as far as I know), I shamelessly borrowed the basic grid form and the mandatory middle letter rule. As you've probably surmised,the hardest part of the process is choosing the appropriate middle letter.

Folks, here's the intro for the list that RC recently sent us:

Hi, I have wanted to participate in these games all week but couldn’t find the time. Thank goodness I had a root canal this morning and found myself home from work with time on my hands until the novacaine wears off and the throbbing subsides. Here’s what I came up with, in order that I thought of them.
I'm not even going to read the list. RC is in! Anybody who can say "Thank goodness I had a root canal this morning" belongs in our winners circle. Gold Star pass, unlimited concierge floor amenities, and turndown service with a whole damn bag of chocolate nibbles.

Good job, Clara. I enjoyed the fun "extras" you included, too.

Impressive performance, Mizzou Bluke. You have our permission to adopt a superior attitide. One question, though: Who is Keith?

After all that letter searching, my brain was scattered enough to forget your name. Please don't deduct any points. Can I still get my gold star pass?

Stem words only please. This means you, Ranger Paul and s.

I see the Gamecocks came through. I hope your mood has improved with that score.

Yes, indeedy, Ken. Thanks. The Gamecocks got exactly one hit in that game, and it was a first-pitch home run off an unfortunate reliever.

Nicely done, jchappell740 and deskbound parky. Gold Star pass, full privileges.

Bob Janiskee:
Yes, indeedy, Ken. Thanks. The Gamecocks got exactly one hit in that game, and it was a first-pitch home run off an unfortunate reliever.
I have some experience watching a few Gamecocks wearing a MLB uniform. Landon Powell caught Dallas Braden's perfect game a couple of years ago. I was listening on and off on the radio, and it seemed interesting until I checked an online box score and realized what was going down. Then I flipped on the TV and couldn't find the station (it was a recent split into two Comcast Sports channels and I wasn't sure of the channel) but figured ESPN would cut into their broadcasts for a potential perfect game. Pretty good looking swing, even with a pink bat.

And yeah - he's a pretty big dude.

However, Jeremy Brown turned out to be a dud. What is it with South Carolina and fat catchers?

I'm still wondering what the other stem words are.

Ranger Paul, you are homing in on it, but your list still needs some work. Grove and Moores are not eligible. There's still time to fix it.