Stupid Tourist Questions. Ya gotta wonder. . .

There’s no such thing as a stupid question. Right? Well, yes there is, if you ask the National Park rangers who compiled this list of actual questions asked by park visitors.

At Grand Canyon National Park:
“Was this man-made?”
“Is there an elevator to the bottom?”
“Do you light it up at night?”
“Is the mule train air-conditioned?”
“Where are the faces of the presidents?”

At Carlsbad Caverns National Park:
“How much of the caves is underground?”
“So what’s in the unexplored part of the cave?”
“Does it ever rain in here?”
“So what is this, just a hole in the ground?”
“How many ping pong balls would it take to fill it up?”

At Everglades National Park:
“Are the alligators real?”
“Are the baby alligators for sale?”
“When does the two o’clock bus leave?”

At Yosemite National Park:
“What time of year do you turn on Yosemite Falls?”
“What happened to the other half of Half Dome?”

At Alaska’s Denali National Park:
“What time do you feed the bears?”
“How often do you mow the tundra?”
“How much does Mount McKinley weigh?”

At Mesa Verde National Park (home of ancient Indian cliff dwellings)
“Did people build this, or did Indians?”
“Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?”
“Why did they build the ruins so close to the road?”

Have you heard a stupid tourist question? If so, please leave a comment and tell it to us.



27 Thoughts to “Stupid Tourist Questions. Ya gotta wonder. . .”

  1. Lisa Cantrell

    My brother worked as a whitewater river rafting guide in CO. They called these stupid tourists Tourons. His 3 most frequent questions were:
    Do we get out the same place we put in?
    Do these rocks go all the way to the bottom?
    And from the very erudite usually possessing more money than brains…At what elevation do deer become elk?

    But this was not our first experience with “tourons”. We grew up in the US Virgin Islands where, more than once, we heard someone ready to take a sailing or fishing trip, ask if they could bring along jars to “get samples of the different color waters”

  2. Gene Bjerke

    Having worked at both Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement, it is easy to collect strange questions. That is why the interpreters refer to the visitors as “turons,” (when they are out of sight).

    1. Dan Tull

      While looking at the Blacksmith demo, a lady asked, “Is this stuff old, or did somebody make it?”

  3. Bob Love

    IGNORANCE VS. STUPIDITY; some comments.
    I’ve been an inner city junior high and high school teacher (13 yrs, retired), an international tour leader and naturalist (couple of trips a year for ~30 yrs), a natural science curator and an education dept. chair in major museums (25 yrs), an RVer (20 yrs.) and a research scientist on cricket songs and evolutionary relationships (~50 yrs). Been there and done that. But I take some exception to the tenor of the article and some of the comments. This is not to say that many of them aren’t amusing – they are! However, there is a basic statement in education, whether as a ranger, a naturalist, a teacher, or any other expert level: There’s no such thing as a ‘dumb question’!
    The best way I know for anyone to dispel their own ignorance is to ask questions, and the deeper the ignorance, the harder to ask a question that can’t be interpreted as “dumb”. So, many people (MOST?) don’t ask for fear of seeming dumb. Too bad! for that’s the best way I know to stay ignorant! And, for the recipient, to think a question asked is “dumb” is the best way I know to either 1) show you can’t formulate an intelligent and helpful response to dispel even a smidgen of ignorance, or 2) to bolster your self-aggrandizement and level of ‘superior intellect’ (BS). The level of ignorance among US citizens is generally abysmal!!!! (I include me in there, too!) How many of you can explain evolution to an inner city student? (I usually fail.) Not wanting to is no excuse for ignorance! How many of you can explain the history of plate tectonics to a senior citizen? (I’ve often tried.) Can you succinctly outline the history of the Bible, or any religion? (Very poorly, at best.) What is each of the Amendments to the Constitution of the US? (Forgotten most, though I had to to get a teacher certificate.)
    Three examples: At Yosemite National Park: “What happened to the other half of Half Dome?” This is really a great question!!!! Can you answer it? Can you explain what a ‘joint’ is, and how the missing face has weathered and been glaciated away to a joint surface? The difference between a joint and a fault? Why the granitic batholith formed and was raised in the first place?
    At Mammoth Cave : Another portly lady asked if she weighed less underground since she was closer to the center of the Earth. Do you know the answer is ‘Yes!’, though almost too little to be measured. ‘Closer to the center’ is a partial answer (less mass pulling from ‘below’), but also, additional mass now above also producing gravity that pulls the body upwards. And, very importantly (re ignorance) the difference between ‘weight’ and ‘mass’, one changes, the other does not – she would mass the same.
    At Yellowstone: “Does Old Faithful still go off if it’s raining?” What a great entry to discuss the plumbing of Old Faithful and the role of rain and ground water; that the heat source is far beneath the surface and unaffected directly by cool rain; that rangers do not control a valve that starts the eruption (a common question as well).
    And on and on …

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      Yes, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Okay, then I say there are funny questions and there are stupid people. The woman in Mammoth Cave who asked if she were lighter in the cave was not there with her physics class, in which case that question would have been logical. Yeah, yeah, yeah. . . I get it that we should ask questions. That’s why children learn so fast — they ask “Why?” day in and day out. But stupid is stupid. I mean “How much does Mt. McKinley weigh?” Come on. . . that’s a dumb question, and funny.

  4. Laura

    I camphost at a State Park in Missouri known for its Geology. Most of the area is sandstone. I saw an angry comment on a comment card, “Whose bright idea was it to put sand over slick wet rocks!!!”

  5. Wayne

    Senior moments are one thing. This however…
    SHEESH! I laughed so hard tears were running down my leg!

    1. RV Staff

      Dang, Wayne. I want to say something so bad, but I know I’d get in trouble. (Although maybe I could blame it on a “senior moment.”) 😉 —Diane at

  6. Rob

    Years ago I worked at Kalaloch Lodge in the Olympic National Park. A waitress in the cafe said a tourist asked “How do all the logs get on the beach?” To this the waitress replied ” The park service puts them there for visitors to sit on and explore!” She was thanked and tipped well.

  7. Candyce

    Years ago a toll taker at the booth at the entrance to Pensacola Beach, FL, was asked by a TV news reporter if he had had any unusual questions over his long career. He replied that once he was asked, “How far is it to where I’m going, and when I get there do I turn right or left?”

  8. Tina GAllagher

    I’m from Texas. A popular tourist question is: “Why do you call them longhorns? How did they get that name?” Yup- you can’t fix stupid.

  9. Steve

    I live high up in the mountains of Colorado. A friend used to work at a t-shirt shop on Main Street in Breckenridge. He said some tourists came in and asked him if the mountains were real, or if that was just a painted backdrop……..

    A common one is, at what altitude do deer become elk? Of course, the answer is, you have to be pretty high for that to happen…….

    Over in Aspen, there are some famous mountains called the Maroon Bells. It is very common for folks to ask what time the Maroon Bells ring…….

    1. Lisa Cantrell

      Didn’t see this before I posted my brother’s example of the same. He worked in Salida so I guess it’s something about CO…:)

  10. mike

    this is not pertaining to travel but a friend that worked for a funeral home was ask if they had a used coffin they could get cheap I know this to be a fact it was a personal friend, that work there,

    1. Sherry Dawson

      That actually isn’t such a stupid question. Sometimes bodies that are to be cremated are first embalmed so the relatives can have a wake with a viewing. They “rent” a coffin to display their loved one, and then the body is later cremated. So there probably are used coffins available. . .

      1. Chuck Woodbury

        Sherry, that’s true. I have seen “used coffins” advertised. I couldn’t fathom at first how that could be, then realized pretty much what you explained here.

  11. George Daunis

    I was visiting Yosemite a few years back and while waiting to check in to my campground the lady in front of me asked the Ranger “Where do we pet the bears?” The rangers reply was “The same place you can pet the lions, just down the road a bit on the left. The lady said: Ok we will head that way. After she left the ranger and I burst into laughter. He told me he gets asked that question almost daily.

  12. Chuck

    Many years in the Navy, each time I have visited Hawaii, you will always hear the same old questions.
    1. What’s the exchange rate for Hawian Dollars?
    2. Do many of the Hawians speak English?
    3. Wow they have Big Name Brand American Stores here just like We Have In America…

  13. Jerry

    My wife and I volunteered for a number of years at Kartchner Caverns in Arizona. It’s located in the heart of the Sonoran desert southeast of Tucson. Lot’s of mesquite, prickly pear cactus, grasses, occotillio and other plants adapted to the arid southwest desert. One day, as she worked the desk in the Visitor’s Center, my wife was confronted by a woman who demanded to know “Where have you hidden the desert? There is supposed to be a desert here and I don’t see it. Where have you hidden it?” Nothing my wife said could convince this woman that she was seeing the desert. My suggestion later in the day was, if she was looking for sand dunes, my wife should have suggested she go to Indiana (Indiana Dunes State Park)!

  14. Dennis Prichard

    “What season do the deer turn into elk?” is a good one. At Mammoth Cave a visitor asked, “Has this cave always been underground?” Another portly lady asked if she weighed less underground since she was closer to the center of the Earth. I watched a couple read the interpretive panel on a fish tank holding blind cave fish. They are tiny little guys and stay hidden under the rocks in the tank most of the time. The man stated he didn’t see any invisible fish. His wife punched him and said, “That’s cause they’re blind, stupid.” Stupid is right!

  15. Steve Malochleb

    Just remember,you can’t fix stupid, but you can laugh at them! Thanks for the tears.

  16. BoomerD

    A couple of years ago, while in Yellowstone for a May RV rally, we had seen the gamut of wildlife; elk, deer, buffalo…buffalo, and more buffalo, even some black bears and grizzlies…but not a single moose.
    We happened on a Park ranger who had been keeping an eye on the tourists and buffalo…I walked up to him and calmly asked, “Where do you guys have the moose today?” with a smirk and grin…Without missing a beat, he replied, “Oh, he’s down in Grand Tetons today, He’ll be back here on Saturday.”
    Gotta love a Park Ranger with a good sense of humor.

  17. Ray Z

    From my friends who work camped at Yellowstone: “Does Old Faithful still go off if it’s raining?”

  18. Ralph Burns

    And just think, these people vote!!!

    1. Jeannine Demers

      ……….and just as bad, they reproduce!

  19. Gary

    I can’t stop laughing. Thanks for sharing. I need to read it again, and call it a night, but can’t stop laughing.

  20. Bruce Bellak

    And you can only wish that the people asking these questions were joking, or that you never run into them yourself.

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