May 9, 2022 - Things to Do

Des Moines' park system ranks in nation's top 25

A photo of Western Gateway Park in Des Moines.
Des Moines' Watern Gateway Park. Photo: Rachel Mummey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Des Moines' park system ranked #25 in the nation this year, according to a ParkScore report released last week by the Trust for Public Land.

  • That's up 10 spots from last year and ahead of places like Atlanta, San Diego and Tampa.

Why it matters: It's a measure of quality of life. Parks provide health and environmental benefits while also contributing economic value to a community, according to the National Recreation and Park Association.

Zoom in: The ParkScore index is based on access, acreage, amenities, equity and investment.

  • Recent improvements at multiple parks, including Riverview and Witmer, helped boost the city's score, Jennifer Fletcher, a spokesperson for DSM Parks and Recreation, told Axios.

By the numbers: Des Moines has 76 parks with more than 4,000 acres of land.

  • 72% of Des Moines residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, far ahead of the median 55% for the 14,000 cities and towns in the ParkServe database.

Yes, but: There's room for improvement. Des Moines' lowest score was in equity.

  • Residents in neighborhoods where most identify as a person of color have access to 60% less park space per person than those in predominately white neighborhoods, the report shows.
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