East vs. West. Mountains vs. Forests. Volcanoes vs. Fat Bears. The competition to declare a 2024 National Park Champion is getting intense as voters from across the country submit their choices in Round One, which closes at midnight ET on March 27. Winners will be announced at 10 am ET on March 28 on the Parks Channel website (theparkschannel.com), opening Round Two of voting.

For this first-of-its-kind competition, the Parks Channel has divided America’s 63 national parks into four brackets, named for four iconic parks: Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion and Acadia. Roughly divided between east and west, the brackets reflect the extraordinary variety and breadth of the country’s treasured public lands, from the rugged wilderness of Alaska to the gator-dwelling wetlands of the Everglades and the rocky moonscapes of Canyonlands and Pinnacles. One park – the nation’s first, Yellowstone – received a first-round bye to accommodate the 64-team brackets and honor its place in American history.

“More than 10 times as many people visit national parks each year than attend NCAA basketball games, so we thought this would be a fun way to celebrate our treasured lands and get some attention on lesser-known parks at the same time,” Parks Channel co-founders Charles Poe and Chris Hoelzl said. “The response has been incredibly enthusiastic, even though some park fans have expressed how hard it can
be to choose favorites.” To submit Round One ballots, visit https://theparkschannel.com/featured/parks-madness- vote-for-your-favorites

The first round features a broad range of compelling matchups. Washington state’s Olympic National Park is up against Joshua Tree. Maine’s Acadia takes on the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, while two desert terrains duke it out with Great Sand Dunes battling White Sands. In perhaps the most jarring bout, Hawai’i Volcanoes are competing against the famous fat bears of Katmai National Park. The competition has already generated some colorful comments from voters:

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