In the end, nothing was going to stop Yellowstone. The world’s first national park received the only first-round bye in the inaugural Parks Madness tournament to honor its place in history, and now your votes have anointed it the first-ever 2024 National Park Champion. Thanks to everyone who played, and to our partners who provided raffle prizes! We've received terrific feedback and lots of suggestions for next year, so keep an eye on this space for one last survey to decide what changes we should make for next time.

Yellowstone breezed past Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic in Round Two before facing slightly stiffer winds against its Wyoming neighbor, Grand Teton, in the Sweet Sixteen and the “Crown of the Continent,” Glacier, in the Final Four. In the match to determine the 2024 National Park Champion, it turned out that even mighty Zion didn’t have a prayer, with Yellowstone winning 64-36%.

“So much beauty, so much to do!” said Parks Madness voter Shelly Smallwood. “There’s a reason it’s called ‘first and best!’”

Another voter, Andrew Miller, said: “Yellowstone is, and always will be, the undisputed King of the National Parks.”

Just over two years ago, on March 1, 2022, Yellowstone celebrated the 150th anniversary of President Ulysses S. Grant signing the law that established the world’s first national park, over 3,400 acres of stunning natural beauty in Wyoming and part of Montana. Early promoters of tourism propagated a myth that Native Americans feared the “evil spirits” of the slumbering but active supervolcano that powers more than 500 geysers. In fact, over a span of 11,000 years, no fewer than 27 indigenous tribes worshipped, hunted and gathered food in what the Crow called “the land of vapors.”

While the National Park Service has worked to tell a fuller history, the appeal of Yellowstone has only grown deeper. “Yellowstone is the park that made me fall in love with nature & exploring the outdoors when I was a child,” voter Elizabeth Entwhistle wrote. “The wonder and awe of the geysers, springs, the paint pots, and of seeing bears & buffalo. Family jokes started there with my 4-year-old brother and a buffalo hat bought as a souvenir, memories from camping & seeing elk. It’s magical. It’s the one park that opened my eyes to them all.”

Yellowstone “coach” and Superintendent Cam Sholly might have the win, but Zion Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh can take solace in the much tighter photo contest. The Utah national park came within a facial whisker of beating Yellowstone, across the full Parks Madness tournament, for most photos submitted by voters depicting their overall winner.

“Zion National Park should win because it is heaven on earth!” voter Jane Falk said. Others called Zion’s scenic views “jaw-dropping” and said the park is “breathtaking every single visit.”

Even voters who chose the winner were conflicted. “I love both of these parks!” voter Shane Sprowl wrote. “While Zion might be the more photogenic and awe-inspiring of the two, Yellowstone simply overwhelms with the amount of wildlife, geothermal features, and untouched wilderness it has to offer, and for that it has my vote as the ultimate Parks Madness champion :)”

Many voters expressed a desire to see Parks Madness return – and find more ways to showcase some of the lesser-known jewels of America’s treasured spaces. “Parks Madness is fun, but I am sorry to see the end competition ended up with overwhelmingly popular parks and little gems were dashed aside,” voter Laura Geroulis wrote. “Sure, it’s a popularity contest, but how about one that lets the smaller parks shine?”

“Please bring back Parks Madness next year!” voter Lauren Schwartz added. “Sorry to see it end. Thanks to the Parks Channel for putting this together. It has been so much fun to read the stories and memories of other Park Lovers!”

Featured photo by rorozoa – Freepik, Coach graphics by Grace Bowie, Parks Madness logo by Drake Poe, badges by Anderson Design Group, Parks Madness brackets by Darius Nabors.

YELLOWSTONE - pick and photo by Tyler White
ZION - Pick and photo by Molly Gerding
YELLOWSTONE -pick and photo by Andrew Miller
ZION - pick and photo by Stephanie Kraft
ZION - pick and photo by Karen Fuller
YELLOWSTONE - pick and photo by Ben Wittenberg
YELLOWSTONE - pick and photo by Chloe Sprowl
ZION - pick and photo by Beth Skrypzak
ZION - pick and photo by JM Palomares

More of Your Comments

Yellowstone has everything and uniqueness not found elsewhere in one place – geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, popping mud, outstanding scenery and the animals – wolves, bison, grizzlies, moose, etc. that are American icons. It is world famous and I’ve heard many people from other countries say they wanted to see Yellowstone.

Thank you, this was fun!!

Yellowstone is the OG. Period. Park Madness was a cool idea.

I love the variety of unique trails in Zion- from The Narrows to Angel’s Landing. Parks Madness has been fun to follow!

Yellowstone. Flora and fauna are fabulous—and Old Faithful is unparalleled!

The first and still the best.

It’s fitting that Yellowstone should win the championship. It is simply the most iconic Park in the entire system!

Yellowstone. Diversity of the park. Wildlife and geological. Zion is fantastic but you don’t have all the wildlife viewing opportunities.

Yellowstone. This park has it all. For both summer and winter. Hands down could spend a month just in that park. Top notch for wildlife viewing.

Yellowstone! My first and favorite National Park. I have loved Parks Madness.

No matter who wins, we all win, because the national parks are the best of us!

I love both parks but the scenery is what is drawing me to Zion.

Yellowstone because of all the beautiful natural features within it.

Yellowstone has it all: charismatic megafauna, beautiful scenery, incredible geology, AND it’s a supervolcano! Zion can’t match that. Park Madness is super fun. My kid and I have enjoyed making our picks. I only wish we had found about it earlier so we could have participated in the first couple rounds.

It’s the feeling and absolute closeness to nature I get when hiking in Zion. Waking up under a full moon to sharing space with a porcupine, feeling the wind on my face on a trail, and the cool wet earth after a rain.

I’ve had a good time with this even though my picks mostly did not make it all the way. Hope to get to visit more parks now that I have retired!

I live in Arkansas and have visited both parks. I absolutely love both parks and had great fun camping and hiking at each one. I have been back to Yellowstone for more camping and hiking, and I can’t wait to go back again. There is something about Yellowstone that calls to me….the wild beauty of the varying terrain, the geysers, the wildlife. My goal in 10 years is to retire and work in one of the gift shops! I love Yellowstone that much!

Yellowstone still remains my favorite (landscape; natural features including geysers, hot springs, mud pots, water, etc.; and animals!). It would be interesting to see how many people actually visited the park they vote for. I know Yosemite is a favorite but I haven’t been there. I was at Zion a month ago. Quite impressive but love the animals in Yellowstone. Thanks for doing this!

Yellowstone is truly the first and best National Park!

Zion. So many different areas of the park. Steep canyon walls, upper rim hikes, mixed conifer forest at Kolob Canyons section. Its more just than a park with hot water that shoots out of the earth sometimes.

I love mountains! I love Parks Madness!

Beauty abounds!! The gray wolf calls Yellowstone home.

Yellowstone should win on the sheer magnitude of the park and its wildlife. Did I mention Old Faithful? I have had the privilege of visiting Yellowstone and treasure the memories.

Loved Park Madness! Yellowstone has it all! Natural beauty with amazing wildlife. It was an adventure of a lifetime for us and we can’t wait to go back!

Love the bracket! Yellowstone is my favorite because of the size and diversity of the park. I’ve seen so much wildlife as well.

Zion is breathtaking every single visit

Let’s do it again next year!!!

Yellowstone. Everyone should see this park at least once in their lifetime! One of my favorite memories is snowmobiling in the middle of Yellowstone I stopped to watch a herd of bison moving across the snowy landscape with absolutely no sounds or sighting of other humans. It was so peaceful and was able to appreciate nature how it was supposed to be. Yellowstone Forever!

It’s our first park, do Yellowstone Rightly so. 👏🏻👏🏻. All our parks are winners in my book though.

Yellowstone. My family has been going there every October for years.

Zion has a good variety of activities and stunning scenery.

I believe Zion is a hidden gem with so many things to offer. Love the idea of Parks Madness!

Zion. It’s my favorite park. My wife and I spent our honeymoon there.

Yellowstone, lol. For the OG! Please do this again next year!!! It was So Much Fun!!!!

Bryce Canyon

Yellowstone should win because I’ve been there.

Yellowstone has it all: waterfalls, mountains, canyons, thermal wonders, wilderness, lakes, wildlife, and over a thousand miles of trails!

Yellowstone has many beautiful features such as geysers and waterfalls. A wonderful place to visit. I loved it!

While Zion’s beauty is jaw dropping, Yellowstone has the diversity and wonder making it Americas first and best national park.

Firstly I love this Parks Madness! It’s a great way to bring NP lovers together for some fun. Yellowstone has it all! Wildlife. Geysers. Hot Pools. My favorite place.

Yellowstone has everything! Wildlife, landscapes, geysers, hikes! And it’s a great place to visit all year long!

Yellowstone. Wildlife, wildlife, wildlife!! Waterfalls, geysers, scenic views!

Parks Madness is fun, but I am sorry to see the end competition ended up with overwhelmingly popular parks and little gems were dashed aside,” Sure, it’s a popularity contest, but how about one that let’s the smaller parks shine? That being said, Yellowstone has it all and it’s always pulling me back.

Yellowstone is the best. Zion isn’t close. Great Smoky Mountains should be in this.

Yellowstone, of course! So iconic and majestic! Please bring back Parks Madness next year! Sorry to see it end. Thanks to the Parks Channel for putting this together. It has been so much fun to read the stories and memories of other Park Lovers!

Zion, because it’s soooo beautiful and full of mystery. i’m also biased cuz i’ve been there and not yellowstone 😜 parks madness has been so fun!!

While Zion is beautiful, Yellowstone is so accessible to so many.

The abundance of Wildlife we observed at Yellowstone was phenomenal, although nowhere close to the amount of bears we saw in Glacier, which in my opinion should’ve won. Spent 5 days in Yellowstone at the height of Covid, which was an extra excuse to avoid other humans & limit the amount of Tourons.

This was great! Wish the underrated parks had made it farther

There are so many beautiful and different experiences at Yellowstone.

Zion. We are here now camping and it’s just amazing!

We love the Narrows and the shear massiveness of Zions mountains.

Yellowstone with all of its geothermal elements. The geysers are great.

First National Park? First Parks Madness Champion? Seems right.

There’s no question which is the most interesting park.

Yellowstone will “BLOW”

Yelling Yellowstone all the way!

I am absolutely crushed that Yosemite went down in the final four, but in my heart it’s the overall winner. That said, we have visited Zion several times and will go back several more times. I just wish it wasn’t so overcrowded! It’s definitely in our top 5, so it gets my vote over Yellowstone. Thank you to The Parks Channel and your sponsors for hosting Parks Madness. I had a blast playing along each round!!