Watch this space for the announcement of Round One winners and Round Two ballot. All entries eligible for a raffle of prizes listed below! Fill out your first-round bracket at the bottom of this page. Deadline for Round One is midnight ET on March 27. Follow @theparkschannel for stories and reels, and use #parksmadness to share photos and let us know what you think!

In 2023, an impressive 325,498,646 visitors explored our National Parks. Meanwhile, roughly 25 million fans attended College Basketball games. Clearly parks won.

Given the fervor of March Madness—the annual tournament of the top 64 college teams—and the fact that we have 63 National Parks, we’ve created Parks Madness to give National Parks fans the opportunity to show their love and create a bracket that pits their favorite National Parks against each other. First we had to make some choices.

The 64th Slot Dilemma

We needed to fill that elusive 64th slot. Should we pick a National Forest, a State Park or a National Monument? After much deliberation, we decided to honor history. Our first National Park, Yellowstone, founded in March, received a BYE in the first round. It seemed fitting to give Yellowstone a head start.

The First Round Bracket

There are only 13 National Parks east of the Mississippi and 50 to the West. There are 51 in the Continental U.S., and 12 in Alaska, Hawai’i, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands. That number drops to 49 if you exclude Dry Tortugas and Isle Royale (since they’re found on islands). Ultimately, we opted for an East vs. West bracket and we just kept moving further west until we got a 31 vs. 32 split.

Drawing the Line

We drew the line at Colorado and Arizona, and took every park east of there. That gave us 27 parks, leaving us four or five short of an equal bracket. Luckily, the Mighty Five in Utah gave our Eastern bracket a total of 32 parks, leaving the Western bracket with 31 for the needed Yellowstone BYE, and that’s how we created the bracket.


#1 Seeds – We feel pretty good about these. Yellowstone, Yosemite, Acadia and Zion.

#16 Seeds – We feel pretty good about these as well with Pinnacles, Indiana Dunes and Gateway Arch. With the exception of New River Gorge and White Sands, these are the most recently created National Parks.

Yes, we know that Grand Canyon is a #3 seed and Crater Lake a #4. But what do you do when Mount Rainier, Denali, Sequoia, Glacier and Grand Teton are all in the same Western region?!

That’s the whole fun of it. We want you to pick your favorite park for each of the matchups. Vote for it and tell your friends to do the same. We would love to hear how wrong we are about our seeds. Would you have done it differently? At the end of the Round One ballot we offer you the chance to pick the overall champion by submitting a personal photo if you have one. And at the end there’s the opportunity to add your thoughts/suggestions for next year.


Everyone who submits a complete Round One ballot will be entered in a raffle for Parks Channel swag, products from National Park Geek, the Anderson Design Group store and the Bucket List Traveler.

All entries will also receive a 10% one-time discount code to the Anderson Design Group store.

As you’re voting, remember – they call it madness because of the potential for upsets! We encourage you to support some lesser-known parks along with the usual suspects…

Be sure to check back here on March 28 for the announcement of Round One winners and to fill out the ballot for Round Two.

Watch the interview with Darius Nabors who explains how he approached making the Parks Madness bracket.

Round one ended on 3/28/24 at 12AM EST. Stay tuned for Round Two!

Featured photo by rorozoa – Freepik; Parks Madness logo by Drake Poe; badges by Anderson Design Group; Parks Madness brackets by Darius Nabors.