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June 5, 2017

Makeover Monday: America's Most Visited National Parks

This is a really exciting week for Makeover Monday. It marks the one year anniversary of the first Makeover Monday Live that Andy Cotgreave and I ran last year at TCOT London. This also means that Makeover Monday is live again at this year's TCOT London. These events are so much fun and an amazing way to introduce people to the project.

For week 23, we are looking at the popularity of America's National Parks. As an American, I've learned to cherish the amazing, free natural wonders sprinkled around the country. In particular, when we lived in California, we made it a point to visit Yosemite, Joshua Tree and the Grand Canyon amongst other places. They truly are worth a visit.

The viz that we are making over this week comes from FiveThirtyEight and it really quite fantastic, like most of their vizzes.

What works well?

  • Great use of highlighting
  • Including gridlines to help guide the eye
  • Noting the source
  • Nice use of a bump chart
  • Shows patterns really well
  • Subtitle explains how to interpret the viz
  • Colors are distinct enough to follow through the viz

What could be improved?

  • The title is very boring.
  • Lack of interactivity
  • How can I identify a park that's not highlighted? It would be nice to have a way to choose another park to highlight.
  • The top 6 parks are highlighted, but why are the others highlighted? It seems pretty random.
  • While this shows me the most popular parks, it lacks the context of how many visitors and how that has changed over the years.

What were my goals?

  • Focus on the top 25 parks
  • Focus on the last 50 years
  • Include the visitors to provide more context when comparing parks
  • Use a small multiples layout and try to recreate this viz that I highlighted on Data Viz Done Right
  • Include the total visitors somewhere so the reader doesn't have to figure it out
  • Create the entire viz in a single view (except the footers)

But then I had another question in my head: At State level data, how many States account for 80% of all visitors? For this, I created a simple Pareto chart. Two vizzes for the prices of one! Enjoy! Click on either image for the interactive version.


  1. What if you wanted to do this dynamically with changing data. I'm having some difficulty working out the titles. In your example, you know that 1992 is the middle, but what if the middle changes? How do you dynamically adjust?

    1. ({MIN([Year])}+{MAX([Year])})/2

    2. Ah, so simple. Thank you!

      I'm using a monthly scale showing a rolling 12 months. What I tried, and seems to work also, is ATTR(Date (Months))=DATEADD('month',-5,DATETRUNC('month',TODAY())).

      Thanks for the reply, I've been learning quite a bit following the Monday Makeover. Very helpful content.

  2. In your workbook it seems like you are able to dynamically structure all of the different charts. Can you explain the calculation behind the Row and Column fields you created. This may be something that is pretty straight forward to some but I am fairly new to the Tableau community.


    1. The Rows and Columns help me determine which order to display the states. They're essentially counters.