MOUNTAINS GO DOWN: ROCKIES, RAINIER AND TETONS OUT OF ELITE 8! See full results for the Sweet 16 below. Elite Eight voting begins now and will run through midnight ET on April 9, so be sure to make your picks. All entries eligible for a raffle of prizes. Follow @theparkschannel for stories and reels, and use #parksmadness to share photos and let us know what you think!

Powerhouse Parks Continue Their March as All No. 1 Seeds Advance

Only one mountain proved high enough for Parks Madness 2024 as Great Smoky Mountains National Park staved off a spirited effort from Shenandoah to move into the Elite 8. Voters came out strong for No. 1 Seeds Yellowstone, Yosemite, Acadia and Zion, but the air proved too thin for the Rocky Mountains, Grand Tetons and even Mount Rainier – all sent packing.

Going into the Sweet 16 of the Parks Channel competition, the No. 2 Great Smokies seemed a safe bet against No. 6 Shenandoah, with a visitation advantage of 13.3 million to 1.6 million. But Shenandoah hiked into an early lead thanks to fans who complained that its seeding was “way too low!” One pointed out: “Shenandoah vs. the Smokies is a bitter Blue Ridge rivalry that dates back to the Ice Age, literally!” In the waning hours the Smokies finally cleared the bear jam and went home a winner, 52-48%.

No one could blame No. 2 seed Rocky Mountain National Park for wanting to get high after just coming up short against No. 3 Arches, which – it turned out – would bend but not break. In the second closest match of the Sweet 16, the Utah park stretched and finally held a tight lead, winning 54-46%. The other No. 2-seeded mountain, Rainier, got outclassed by No. 3 Grand Canyon, 65-35%.

The most hotly debated Sweet 16 matchup was No. 1 Yellowstone against No. 5 Grand Teton, which are only an hour’s drive away from each other in Wyoming. One fan predicted “The John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway series between Yellowstone and Grand Teton will be an instant classic.” Another said: “I give a slight edge to GT for being a big source of my love for the parks system, but you really can’t go wrong either way.” In the end voters could not resist Old Faithful, giving Yellowstone a 59-41% win.

The round was a wet blanket for the tree-hugging community, which saw both No. 7 Redwood and No. 4 Sequoia fall, to Glacier and Yosemite. Heaven could wait for No. 1 Zion, which fluttered past No. 5 Mesa Verde, 74-26%. And No. 1 seed Acadia spanked the Badlands, 59-41%.

SHENANDOAH - pick and photo by Kristin Repchick

The remaining schedule for Parks Madness:

• Elite 8 voting ends at midnight ET on April 9
• Final Four announced on April 10
• Championship announced on April 13
• 2024 National Park Champion declared on April 16

All entries eligible for a raffle of prizes from our partners.

Headline Matchups for Next Round

Elite 8 voting begins today and features colossal clashes:

• No. 1 Yellowstone vs. No. 3 Glacier – America’s first national park steams into battle against the “the Crown of the Continent.”

• No. 1 Yosemite vs. No. 3 Grand Canyon – expect some trash talk from No. 1, known as “Big Mouth” by the indigenous Ahwahneechee.

• No. 1 Acadia vs. No. 3 Arches – the first national park cobbled together from private donations takes on the home of Delicate Arch, once known as “Old Maid’s Bloomers.”

• No. 1 Zion vs. No. 2 Great Smokies – the ancient home of the Anasazi takes on the park native Cherokee called “place of the blue smoke.”

On to the Elite 8! Don’t forget to submit your ballot by midnight ET on April 9 to be eligible for our next round of prizes.

YOSEMITE - pick and photo by Beth Skrypzak
GRAND CANYON -pick and photo by Youna Cho
YELLOWSTONE - pick and photo by Rebecca Johnson
GREAT SMOKY - pick and photo by Nita Navarro

Your comments on this round

After I sulk about Crater Lake losing, at least I can still hope Glacier will stick around!

Acadia is not a 1 seed.

Yellowstone blows it away: animals, landscape, hot springs, waterfalls…it’s an all-in-one that is number one.

Pitting Yellowstone against Grand Teton is just WRONG!!

As a UVA grad alum, I’m partial to Shenandoah of course, but to win it all – has to be Grand Teton with Yosemite as a very close second. I’ll be happy with either.

Love this – just wish I’d known earlier so I could’ve voted early on for Denali!! That one’s a heartbreaker for sure.

I wish Yellowstone and Grand Teton weren’t against each other. It’s one of my favorite parks!

The John D. Rockefeller, Jr Parkway series between Yellowstone and Grand Teton will be an instant classic.

It’s sooo hard to pick the best when they are all so great!

I’m so proud that I’ve been to every park in this Sweet 16!

Big Bend and Denali were robbed and it feels personal

Brilliant fun! There are twice as many monuments, please don’t bracket them!

Glacier is king.

Hot take – Grand Teton over Yellowstone.

It’s really tough to pick. They are great in their own right.

I had to make some tough choices because they are all great in their own way.

Grand Canyon definitely needs to upset Rainier!

This is my first day voting and I’m very disappointed that Crater Lake didn’t make it further. Grand Canyon/Mt Rainier and Shenandoah/Smokies are both tight matches I think, I’ll be curious to see the results.

Shenandoah vs. Smokies is a bitter Blue Ridge rivalry that dates back to the Ice Age, literally!

Great March Madness event. Love it!!

Glacier vs rocky mountains in the finals.

Arches over Rocky Mountain was a tough call.

Shenandoah is my heart…and #6 is way too low!

Voting between Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains is like picking a favorite child. And what happened to Bryce? Now I’ve got to heal from that deep wound 🙂

Super hard to pick on some of these matchups!

This is torture… like which child is your favorite!

Yellowstone vs. Grand Teton would be my personal finals! I give a slight edge to GT for being a big source of my love for the parks system, but you really can’t go wrong either way 🙂

I hope Shenandoah doesn’t SMOKE the Smokies… This has been awesome! Thanks for all the hard work!

Bad luck for Badlands, going up against Acadia, a park having an all-time tournament. Got to be careful not to turn this into a trap game, but Acadia ain’t breaking a sweat in this one.