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11/30/2013 by Brian Eagen Click to Tweet

2013 National Parks Showdown

In October of 2013 the US government shut down for 17 days because they were unable to come to a resolution regarding funds for the 2014 fiscal year (specifically over the Affordable Care Act). Over 800,000 government workers were furloughed and the entire National Park system was closed down. Despite the enormous boost national parks bring to local economies, only parks in Utah were able to stay open (due to state funding).

To help everyone remember how fantastic the National Parks are (even when they cannot be visited) we held a 5 week National Park Showdown to combat the National Park shutdown. Parks were assigned to a bracket-style voting competition and each week one park advanced out of each match up.

Click on the parks for a brief summary about them and scroll down to see how the voting played out.

Rockies Division

The Rockies Division had a number of heavy-hitters, including Zion, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Glacier. Zion managed to edge out Glacier for the division title while Yellowstone was a surprising early knockout.

Zion Zion Zion Zion Zion Grand Canyon Grand Canyon Canyonlands Bryce Canyon Bryce Canyon Capitol Reef Arches Arches Great Sand Dunes Glacier Glacier Glacier Glacier Rocky Mountain Grand Teton Grand Teton Black Canyon Gunnison Yellowstone Yellowstone Yellowstone Great Basin Petrified Forest Mesa Verde Mesa Verde ROCKIES

Pacific Division

The Pacific Division was made up largely from parks in Alaska and Hawaii, with a few additions along the California and Washington coasts. While Denali was a crowd favorite, it was readily beat by Zion in the semi-finals.

Gates of the Arctic Gates of the Arctic Kenai Fjords American Samoa Channel Islands Channel Islands Haleakala Hawaii Volcanoes Hawaii Volcanoes Hawaii Volcanoes Olympic Olympic Redwoods Redwoods Redwoods Denali Denali Denali Denali Wrangell-Saint Elias Katmai Katmai Lake Clark Kobuk Valley Glacier Bay Glacier Bay Glacier Bay PACIFIC

East/Midwest Division

Great Smoky Mountains and Acadia systematically crushed the East/Midwest Division and it came down to one of the closest matches. Great Smoky managed to win by a small margin, but then was thoroughly crushed in the semi-finals by powerhouse Yosemite.

Acadia Acadia Acadia Virgin Islands Virgin Islands Dry Tortugas Shenandoah Shenandoah Shenandoah Cuyahoga Valley Voyageurs Isle Royale Isle Royale Congaree Hot Springs Mammoth Caves Mammoth Caves Mammoth Caves Great Smoky Mts Great Smoky Mts Great Smoky Mts Great Smoky Mountains Great Smoky Mountains Biscayne Wind Cave Badlands Badlands Everglades Everglades EAST/MIDWEST

Western Division

Everyone was expecting Yosemite to do well, and they projected correctly. Yosemite clinched the title of 2013 National Park Showdown Winner, readily beating Mount Rainier, Joshua Tree, and Zion.

Yosemite Yosemite Yosemite Yosemite Sequoia Sequoia Kings Canyon Saguaro Lassen Volcanic Lassen Volcanic Joshua Tree Joshua Tree Joshua Tree Pinnacles Mount Rainier Mount Rainier Mount Rainier Mount Rainier Crater Lake North Cascades Death Valley Death Valley Big Bend Big Bend Big Bend Guadalupe Mts Theodore Roosevelt Carlsbad Caverns Carlsbad Caverns WESTERN
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Impacts of the Shutdown

Over 4500 people from 8 countries voted in the 6 rounds to determine their favorite parks. The National Park Showdown was always about providing a fun space to remember how awesome our national lands are, and maybe getting a few ideas about where to visit when they opened back up.

The impacts of the shutdown were quite noticeable, especially to local economies, but there were also stories of wildlife roaming through busy places in a way they hadn't for 100s of years. While the park closure was a side effect of a much wider issue, I still urge you to let your politicians know how much these places mean to you. Hopefully the National Parks systems are never forced to shut down for such a long period ever again.

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