Where the Deer and the Presidents Play


Outside magazine, May 1995

Where the Deer and the Presidents Play

From the ranger desks at our national parks, spectacular questions posed by a curious citizenry
By Debra Shore

With summer approaching and our thoughts returning to wide-open spaces, we residents of this great land begin our pilgrimages to its crown jewels, the most hallowed sites in our national park system. But as we attempt to make sense of these vast, unparalleled preserves, to squeeze from them every bit of richness they offer, we tend to get…well, overwhelmed by the
grandeur–and boy, does it show. Here, as detailed by ever-helpful rangers, are some true and commonly asked questions, every one as breathtaking as the landscapes that inspired them.

Grand Canyon National Park
Was this man-made?
Do you light it up at night?
I bought tickets for the elevator to the bottom–where is it?
Is the mule train air-conditioned?
So where are the faces of the presidents?

Everglades National Park
Are the alligators real?
Are the baby alligators for sale?
Where are all the rides?
What time does the two o’clock bus leave?

Mesa Verde National Park
Did people build this, or did Indians?
Why did they build the ruins so close to the road?
Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?
What did they worship in the kivas–their own made-up religion?
Why did the Indians decide to live in Colorado?

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
How much of the cave is underground?
So what’s in the unexplored part of the cave?
Does it ever rain in here?
How many Ping-Pong balls would it take to fill this up?
So what is this–just a hole in the ground?

Yosemite National Park
Where are the cages for the animals?
What time of year do you turn on Yosemite Falls?
What happened to the other half of Half Dome?
Can I get my picture taken with the carving of President Clinton?

Denali National Park
What time do you feed the bears?
What’s so wonderful about Wonder Lake?
Can you show me where yeti lives?
How often do you mow the tundra?
How much does Mount McKinley weigh?

Yellowstone National Park
Does Old Faithful erupt at night?
How do you turn it on?
When does the guy who turns it on get to sleep?
We had no trouble finding the park entrances, but where are the exits?