The National Parks Bucket List: The Ultimate Adventure Journal for All 63 Parks

Linda Mohammad never set out to write a book, but after traveling to all 63 National Parks we can be glad she did. Her new journal offers advice from her experience and lots of space for recording your own adventures. Below, excerpts from her Top 5 National Parks.


The story behind this colorful journal started simply as a desire to stay fit and not be confined to a gym. The California national parks were her “starter kit,” and weekend ventures gradually became expeditions to other West Coast parks and then farther afield.

Before she became a park expert, Linda had studied geology at the Colorado School of Mines. Students were required to draw pictures of rock formations and keep a journal of their observations in a notebook. Her new book has taken a similar approach. It’s filled with facts about each park, and there’s ample place to make your own observations. It’s a great format to bring the study of the world around us to a national park guide, notching off parks as you go.

The National Park Bucket List Journal is also a gateway to a community of national park travelers Linda joined almost by accident. She started uploading photos to an Instagram group – aptly called National Park Geek – and she eventually became the Chief Geek Ambassador.

A Growing Community

Digital connections turned into friendships with like-minded people who share a deep appreciation of the land and those who are bound to protect it. The more parks she went to, the more involved she became in the parks community and the greater understanding she gained of the fragile ecosystems surrounding them. For each park entry in the book she also notes the cultural heritage of the park and the tribes that once lived there. Her hope is that their descendants become co-managers of the parks to help preserve them for the future.

After COVID the national parks and public lands have seen a huge rebound in visitation, making the planning process all the more important. Online guides can be unreliable, and sometimes it’s hard to vet where the information is coming from. Before she wrote the book Linda was already a go-to source for those who want to do all 63 parks or even just go on a weekend outing. This book distills her knowledge into a beautifully illustrated guide.

Linda has funded all her own travel without sponsorship of any kind. She freely admits to a love of planning, a useful skill when you’re visiting as many parks as possible and staying on budget. This doesn’t come through in the book, though you get the feeling talking to her that her blog (The Bucket List Traveler) will offer ways to plan efficiently, economically and sustainably. Unbiased hints on how to save money and resources are insider information we can all benefit from.

Like the book, Linda is easily approachable, and she’s happy to share her experiences in hopes that others will discover the joy of visiting our protected spaces. “Representation matters. The fact that I am out there, doing my thing, does inspire solo female travelers and people of color,” she says. She also encourages people to support parks, if not monetarily then by joining a park foundation – as she did for the Channel Islands National Park Foundation, where she serves as a director. This book is a fun way to explore the parks, get you inspired to get out there and record your own journey along the way.

Linda’s Top 5

Top photo of Linda Mohammad in Death Valley National Park (photo courtesy of Linda Mohammad)


PARKS MADNESS: Yellowstone Takes the Crown!

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!!


PARKS MADNESS: Yellowstone vs. Zion for the Championship!

Park fans have delivered a wild beauty contest for the ages, delivering solid wins for Yellowstone and Zion national parks in the Final Four of Parks Madness. Now the final ballot will decide which one gets bragging rights as the 2024 National Park Champion. Cast your pick below by midnight ET on April 15 and be entered in a raffle for a National Park Pass. We'll declare the winner on April 16.


While neither of the finalists was in serious jeopardy in the semifinals, both Arches and Yosemite put on spirited efforts and had passionate supporters. “Arches is so vast and is accessible to all visitors, whether boardwalks or technical hiking/climbing,” voter Sandy Smith said. “One can return for visits many times and always find something new to discover in the land of the Ancients.”

“Yosemite is the bomb diggity of a park! It has everything!” said voter Sarah Cole.

The Yellowstone vs. Yosemite matchup pitted America’s first national park against its third, the Grand Prismatic Spring against Yosemite Falls, the Tunnel View against the Hayden Valley. Both have long been among the most beloved, visited and photographed national parks. Each features iconic wildlife, from Yellowstone’s bison, wolves and grizzlies to Yosemite’s bighorn sheep, mountain lions and black bears. In the end, though, the sheer volume of amazing features pulled Yellowstone ahead.

“Other parks have cool mountains, and maybe some good animals, but that’s where it ends for most of the others,” said voter Elijah Hoppe. “Yellowstone has all that plus awesome lakes, rivers, canyons, waterfalls, and best of all, GEYSERS.” The final tally was 63-37%.

The Arches vs. Zion semifinal paired the last survivors of Utah’s Mighty Five national parks, which also include Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands. Early voting suggested a tight finish.

On one side, the ultimate selfie destination with more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches – formed through erosion on a 300 million-year-old salt bed – facing a park so overwhelmingly beautiful that Mormon pioneers gave it the Old Testament name for the city of Jerusalem. “The drive through the tunnels and then BOOM there’s the scenery is just hands down the best mic drop a National Park has,” Zion fan Becky Boughan said. Beauty beat the bends, 60-40%.

Can Zion’s heavenly run make it to the pearly gates, or will Yellowstone and its glorious geysers steam to victory? The answer comes April 16, no permit required.

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Key Stats on Your Finalists

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

YELLOWSTONE - pick and photo by JM Palomar
ZION - pick and photo by Michelle Okumura
YELLOWSTONE - pick and photo by Jay Scarlett
YOSEMITE - pick and photo by Susan Edwards
YELLOWSTONE - pick and photo by Bob McMillin
ARCHES - pick and photo by Sandy Smith
YOSEMITE - pick and photo by Lindsay Holcomb
WHITE SANDS - pick and photo by Barclay Richey
GLACIER - pick and photo by Terri Donati

More of Your Comments

Beauty, nature and wildlife!

White Sands is a one trick pony but the pony is good!

Huge diversity of Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Multitude and diversity of wildlife and vegetation. History of the entire area.

Zion is an amazing park with so much to see and do! The scenery is spectacular and it also has so many beautiful animals.

Yellowstone all the way!!!

Let’s do it again next year!

Love Parks Madness!

Megafauna get all the credit, but let’s go Zion for the teeny endemic snails!

Park Madness was so much fun! I enjoyed the matchup between different parks, and seeing how it would play out amongst the national park fan base. Please do this again next year!!!!

Love Park Madness! Yosemite has it all – peaceful rivers, glorious mountains, stunning views that change in seasons, variety of nature in its full splendor. I haven’t been to them all but right now it’s still my favorite.

Yosemite is the ultimate park with the most awesome views, hikes, and features. Parks madness is great, but not as good as Dawn Staley and her Gamecocks!

Super fun.

I think Badlands should have been in the final 4 as it is the most unique park of them all!

Yellowstone has animals which is my favorite thing to view at parks! Also it’s diverse in landscape and has lots of spectacular wonders!

Yosemite should when because it is so spectacular!

We loved Zion! We had our most fun in The Narrows. The shear massiveness of the rocks just amazed me! The drive through the tunnels and then BOOM there’s the scenery is just hands down the best mic drop a National Park has. Park Madness is great!

Arches is surprisingly beautiful and has a lot of different sites to see. The hike to Delicate Arch was an amazing experience for me. Park Madness is a cool idea.

Have enjoyed the Madness and think it is a great way to bring attention to the National Parks!

Yellowstone. It is a very large park with many different ecosystems. Its thermal features are magnificent. It has bears, bison, wolves, etc. And it was the first National Park established in the US in 1972 while Grant was President. Go for it!

Parks Madness is a genius way to encourage visits to the parks!! thank you all

Its hard to choose the overall winner. I have gone to all the final four parks but only once. All of them have their own charm. For driving, definitely Zion. I couldn’t stop my jaw from dropping in every turn. Yosemite definitely offers a lot more sceneries and Arches still blow my mind. I picked Yellowstone because it was the recent one I have gone. With all the wildlife I have seen in the park, its hard not to choose it as the ultimate winner.

Beautiful! Variety of scenery; something for everyone. Love Parks Madness! More parks to visit (I have visited the final four!)

Parks Madness is a fun way to give the parks attention (like the fat bear contest)

We loved Zion! We had our most fun in The Narrows. The shear massiveness of the rocks just amazed me! The drive through the tunnels and then BOOM there’s the scenery is just hands down the best mic drop a National Park has. Park Madness is great!

Arches is surprisingly beautiful and has a lot of different sites to see. The hike to Delicate Arch was an amazing experience for me. Park Madness is a cool idea.

Have enjoyed the Madness and think it is a great way to bring attention to the National Parks!

It is a very large park with many different ecosystems. Its thermal features are magnificent. It has bears, bison, wolves, etc. And it was the first National Park established in the US in 1972 while Grant was President. Go for it!

Parks Madness is a genius way to encourage visits to the parks!! thank you all

Its hard to choose the overall winner. I have gone to all the final four parks but only once.

All of them have their own charm. For driving, definitely Zion. I couldn’t stop my jaw from dropping in every turn. Yosemite definitely offers a lot more sceneries and Arches still blow my mind. I picked Yellowstone because it was the recent one I have gone. With all the wildlife I have seen in the park, its hard not to choose it as the ultimate winner.

Beautiful! Variety of scenery; something for everyone. Love Parks Madness! More parks to visit (I have visited the final four!)

The Arches vs Zion match up is a tough one as I love them both, but Arches pulls ahead because there is an arch to see for every skill set, novice to expert!

Utahs parks are amazing.

I visited Yellowstone several years ago and the scope and variation in that park is unparalleled. Parks Madness is so much fun and should definitely be repeated next year!

Yellowstone. It was the very first National Park. It has everything you could possibly look for in a park and makes for an absolute dream vacation. Our adventures there will never be matched. Park Madness has been lots of fun. Great locations have won and lost in tough battles.

So fun (and tough!) – thank you!

Yellowstone has the beauty of the geysers and waterfalls as well as other rock formations. I loved the parks madness. I don’t watch sports but this was something I could relate to.

Wyoming pride – go Jellystone!

Please bring Parks Madness back next year! And please include other parks in the full round of 64. So many good ones didn’t even make it into this competition! (Give the little ones a chance — like Sleeping Bear — such a treasure of the Midwest!) But Yellowstone will take it all! It was not the first NP that I visited as a child, but it was the first that I *remembered* and felt in awe of nature, the mountains, and hot springs!

Yellowstone has it all: beautiful scenery, wildlife and thermal features everywhere. Love the parks madness!

I like the idea. Hate to only pick one Park.

For the beautiful wolves & bison calling Yellowstone home!

This is a great idea, and I hope it continues. Yellowstone is my happy place! Since my first visit about 72 years ago (not a typo…72) it has been my favorite place on this ole planet Earth! I am a Geyser Geek and every visit allows two or three days in the Upper, Middle, and Lower Geyser Basins. But I also spend time at Canyon and the Lake. I never get tired of Yellowstone!

I doubt many of these people have visited these smaller parks. Its no surprise that people just picked the higher seeds. I know everyone has their own interests but people just choose the more recognizable name.

Fun tourney ! Zion is clearly the BEST – anyone who has hiked the narrows knows this!

Zion. So majestic and yet accessible to all. Love Parks Madness! Mostly, because I love our national parks. To me they are ALL big winners – as are we b/c we have access to them.

They are all great picks. I said Arches because I haven’t been there yet.

I LOVE Parks Madness! I want to visit ALL of these wonderful parks someday!

Zion is the most beautiful place ever!!!

So hard to stay focused now that Acadia is out. My parents visited Yellowstone as new immigrants in the 1950s and never stopped talking about how beautiful it was… that’s my sentimental favorite.

This was fun. Thank you for elevating our national parks.

Yellowstone is magical. It opens up your soul to what the best of this amazing country. It has been fun to watch parks progress through the parks madness bracket. I wish the Smokies would have made the final 4.

Yosemite is the bomb diggity of a park! It has everything! I LOVED the Parks Madness. Great idea!!

Zion has a little bit of everything for all to enjoy. Pictured is my husband the day we conquered the Narrows back in 2018!

Parks Madness is so fun! Way better than basketball :). Zion will always have my heart. It was my first road trip with my then-boyfriend, now husband, in 1998. Hiking and learning about stacked rocks for the first time and having dinner at the base of the mountain where they gave me a blanket to cover my legs with for the outdoor seating to the seedy motel where I was afraid to sleep on their sheets. Wonderful memories and a beautiful park!

Yellowstone is going to “blow” Yosemite out of this challenge! Thanks again for all the amazing hard work! So much fun!!!!!!! And learned some more interesting facts about some of my fave parks and some tidbits for future visit to some I haven’t had the pleasure to visit!

Yellowstone is the oldest, but Yosemite (in my humble opinion) is my favorite. We loved exploring Arches and Zion especially, but Yosemite will always top my list. Thanks so much for an incredible Parks Madness! You guys made this such a fun and exciting experience while highlighting our great National Parks.


PARKS MADNESS: Down to Last 4! Make Your Picks

From the start of Parks Madness it seemed inevitable that Yosemite and Yellowstone would meet in the Final Four, and now the dream matchup is happening. The winner will face a member of Utah’s Mighty Five – either Zion or Arches – for the 2024 National Park Championship. The ballot below will be live until midnight ET on April 12. Enter now to be eligible for our raffle!


Three of the four Elite 8 matchups proved very close calls, and online voters were clearly conflicted. “Glacier and Yellowstone was a gut-wrenching match for this born and raised hardcore MT girl,” said voter Gina Mahoney, who ended up choosing Yellowstone “for her diversity.”

But Glacier did not melt without a fight. “Yellowstone has great wildlife and good scenery, but not quite as good as Glacier,” voter Brad Davis argued. “This should have been the final, rather than Elite 8 matchup. No other park offers the variety that these offer.” Despite Glacier’s passionate fan base, Yellowstone skated to the win, 53-47%.

No. 1 seed Yosemite faced a historically deep competitor in No. 3 Grand Canyon, which also drew more 2023 visitors, 4.73 million to 3.89 million, according to the National Park Service. Still, the home to El Capitan and the annual “Firefall” phenomenon rope-climbed to victory, 54-46%.

As by far the most visited U.S. national park, No. 2 seed Great Smoky Mountain seemed well-provisioned to trek past No. 1 seed Zion. Park fan Thomas Grady even laid out the statistics: “The Great Smoky Mountain National Park: (a) is the most biologically diverse national park; (b) is the most visited national park and (c) has 150 official hiking trails covering approximately 900 miles, including 72 miles (1/30th) of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.” But like a flash flood in the Virgin River Narrows, Zion’s fans swept it to a convincing win, 62-38%.

The first place to see sunrise in America and last competitor from the East Coast, No. 1 seed Acadia, hoped to keep its Parks Madness run going but ran into a steep ascent against No. 3 seed Arches. The red-rock wonderland outpolled the rocky Maine coastline, 53-47%.

The Parks Channel tournament is down to its Final Four: Yellowstone vs. Yosemite and Zion vs. Arches, a contest with a staggering variety of natural features, wild inhabitants and outdoor activities to explore. Voters face more tough choices, although they sound up for the challenge. “I’m loving Parks Madness!” said Jessica Goodfellow. “My husband and I have enjoyed debating the relative merits of different parks and ‘trash-talking’ some of the parks too!”

Another voter, Shannon Woodring, validated the whole point of the tournament: “I like Parks Madness better than basketball because after researching the parks, it makes me want to visit them!”

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Key Stats on Your Final Four Competitors

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

GRAND TETON - pick and photo by Shane Sprowl
ZION - pick and photo by Isabel Berry
YOSEMITE - pick and photo by Rose Buch
ARCHES - pick and photo by Grover Robinson
YELLOWSTONE - pick and photo by Dawn Lonczak
ZION - pick and photo by Jourdan Rogers

More of your comments

I really love them all so I’m just picking a horse and riding it but – actual glaciers played a part in forming so many of the other parks, so Glacier deserves the nod! It’s also repping for the cold weather parks. And mostly – wolverines and lynx! Parks Madness is so great, I love seeing other peoples’ thoughts and passions and I love any excuse to celebrate the parks.

This was the worst 😭

Great Idea. Yosemite was awesome.

Yellowstone is the OG of them all!

This Parks Madness has been a ton of fun!!

Yellowstone has it all. Beautiful scenery, amazing features like geysers and waterfalls, abundance of wildlife; bison, moose elk, bears!! It’s easy to drive as my husband has mobility issues. Parks madness is great! We were lucky enough to visit 9 different parks this last September many of which I had never been to. I am a senior and I have the wonderful lifetime senior pass. We are looking forward to visiting many more and getting my passport book stamped.

I love Park Madness! This has been fun! And certainly makes me want to visit the ones I have not already been to! Debbie Woods

I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and spent a few days at Phantom Ranch with 3 friends. This was just a spectacular experience and one of the most memorable things I have ever done in my lifetime.

parks madness has been the MOST fun thanks so much!!!

Glacier has the best combination of scenery and wildlife. Yellowstone has great wildlife and good scenery, but not quite as good as Glacier. This should have been the final, rather than Elite 8 matchup. No other park offers the variety that these offer.

we got ARCHes in ARCHES ? !!!!!!

Glacier’s beauty spoke to me when I was teen in the ’70s, and now as an adult, I am saddened to see the glaciers melting because of man’s ignorant choices with our planet. Glacier deserves to be recognized for the beauty it still provides, the wildlife that roams, and the last vestiges of glaciers that are hanging on to remind us what once was.

Olympic. I like the Lord’s work you’re doing.

Yellowstone has it all – beautiful landscapes, wildlife, geothermal features.

Yellowstone is unlike ANY other park anywhere. Completely unique! Loving this fun.
I love Parks Madness! Such a clever idea and fun to ‘compete’ for the “best”! My favorite is still Chaco Canyon and that wasn’t even in the tournament! Sleep Bear National Lakeshore is also awesome and needs to be in the competition next year.

Arches has so many different landscapes to explore and even the most novice hiker can still see amazing things! I like Parks Madness better than basketball, it makes me research the different parks, which then makes me want to visit them!

Yellowstone has an abundance of wildlife and nature to enjoy.

My favorite park is in my backyard. Such beauty and uniqueness in the Great Smokies but I’m also partial because it’s home. I love visiting other parks, but that rugged, misty horizon is always a welcome sight. Park Madness has been really fun. The only thing that I would improve is that in the very first round have a short little bio about each park- like a baseball card- of statistics or “best known fors”

The Virgin River and slot canyons of zion make it so unique.

Zion is stunningly beautiful in every season and has amazing hiking!

Yellowstone has a little bit of everything. Not to mention amazing wildlife and geysers!
It was the most amazing family trip I’ve had in my lifetime (just sorry it took me so long to get there!). I hope to add many more to my bucket list. Thank you for this Madness (sooo hard to choose)!

Parks madness is far more fun than March madness

It’s less traveled than others, just as beautiful as others. Maybe not as recognized as the rest. Parks Madness is Fun!

Acadia! I’ve enjoyed playing and have learned about some parks that I wasn’t aware of.
Park Madness is very fun, even though I’m mostly voting on my knowledge of Anderson Design Group designs since I’ve been to very few of the parks in real life but own a lot of their postcards.

So much fun!

I love all of these parks, but Glacier is my favorite park, hands down! I’m loving Parks Madness! My husband and I have enjoyed debating relative merits of different parks and “trash-talking” some of the parks, too!

I’m sad for Grand Teton being gone
It’s unique and nature at it’s best.

Glacier and Yellowstone was a gut wrenching match for this born and raised hardcore MT girl- and my final vote had to be for Yellowstone for her diversity….. Parks madness was so much fun and I’m grateful for all the work you put into this! Polite request: PLEASE always give photo cred if you use someone’s pic (one of my Glacier pics was used and no cred) Editor’s note: FIXED! Sorry about that!

Yellowstone is unlike ANY other park anywhere. Completely unique! Loving this fun.

Arches isn’t even the best park in its own state! Acadia is the best park in ANY state East of the Mississippi… Acadia all the way!

You guys have put fun back into bracketology.

This is the toughest round by far! All of these are winners… but Yosemite will always be my fave!

Cataclysmic match- Glacier vs Yellowstone!

Good job


Gallery: Your Picks for Parks Madness Champ


PARKS MADNESS: Elite 8 Revealed!

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.


PARKS MADNESS: What's Your Final Four? Make Your Picks

Eight remain. We're getting down to the toughest choices now! The ballot below will be live through midnight ET on April 9, so even if you missed earlier rounds, add your voice to see who gets into the Final Four. All entries are eligible for a raffle of prizes – details at the bottom of the page. Follow @theparkschannel for stories and reels, and use #parksmadness to share photos and let us know what you think!


Headline Matchups for This Round

As the Elite 8 of Parks Madness opens today, there are several marquee matchups to look out for:

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.”

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

Sorry. This form is no longer available.

Key Stats on Your Elite 8 Competitors

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