Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Screen capture: geography quiz question.

Last night I got sucked in to doing a U.S. Geography quiz (link below). I got every answer right until I came to this question: “This western state shares a border with west Kansas, and has its highest mountain peak at 6,800 feet, and the lowest valley at 3,317 feet below sea level?” As you can see, I was given four answers to choose from, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, and Arkansas. The question and the answers are all wrong. Note that the quiz used a photo of Colorado mountains as a hint.

My first issue was with the question. I know that Death Valley in California is the lowest point in the United States and it is only a few hundred feet below sea level. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on planet and even it isn’t anywhere near 3,000 feet below sea level. So the “3,317 feet below sea level” in the quiz question is just totally off for anywhere on the planet, much less the U.S.

Now for the answers. Wyoming and Arkansas are out. Neither of them shares any part of their border with Kansas.

That leaves Colorado and Nebraska. I grew up in Colorado.Just about everyone in Colorado over a certain age knows that Colorado has dozens of “fourteeners”, mountains that are 14,000 feet. As a person raised in Colorado I knew that Mt. Elbert is the highest mountain in the state at over 14,400 feet above sea level. A lot of people outside of Colorado know that Pikes Peak and other famous mountains in Colorado are over 14,000 feet. When the quiz question refers to the “highest mountain peak at 6,800 feet”, that eliminates Colorado as an answer.

That leaves Nebraska. I lived in Nebraska for 16 years. The western edge of Nebraska is around 5,000 feet in elevation with buttes that rise even higher. But even at that, 6,800 feet felt like a stretch to me. And of course there is no place in Nebraska that is 3,317 feet below sea level. In fact I could not remember Nebraska having any place that is below sea level. But it was the last answer left, and the quiz was waiting. So I picked Nebraska as the least wrong answer. The quiz did not like my answer.

Screen capture of the answer, telling me Colorado is correct answer.

The quiz tried to tell me Colorado is the correct answer. Seriously?! Who put this quiz together? Did no one fact check the answers? This quiz answer is totally wrong. Colorado’s highest peaks are over 14,400 feet high and there is no place in Colorado that is below sea level.

I was so annoyed with this quiz Q&A that didn’t answer any more questions. I did grab screen captures. I also went to the U.S. Geological Survey to confirm a few details.

Mt. Elbert is the highest mountain in Colorado at 14,433 feet. The lowest point in Colorado is 3,315 feet above sea level.

The highest point in Nebraska is Panorama Point at 5,424 above sea level. The lowest point is 840 feet above sea level. So my answer was the least wrong of the two states that border Kansas.

Death Valley in California is the lowest land point in the U.S. at 282 feet below sea level.

The Dead Sea (Israel/Jordan/Syria) is the lowest land point on earth at around 1,350 feet below sea level. Sources differ as to the exact elevation.

This quiz question and the proposed answers are just SO wrong.

The Colorado photo in the quiz is by Patrick Poendl.

Trail Running in the Ten Mile Range of Colorado, August 28, 2011. Photo © Patrick Poendl


USGS: Highest and lowest points in the U.S. states, provinces, and the District of Columbia

Can You Ace This U.S. Geography Quiz?

The Lowest Land Areas On Earth Below Sea Level –