May 28, 2024 - News

How metro Phoenix parks compare to the nation's best

A mountain park with a rock structure.

Phoenix's South Mountain preserve is one of the nation's largest municipal parks. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Park access and amenities fall below the national average in Phoenix and its suburbs, according to the newly released ParkScore report from the Trust for Public Land (TPL).

Why it matters: Residents of cities with high ParkScore rankings are more socially connected and engaged with their neighbors and more likely to form friendships with people in different socioeconomic groups, according to TPL.

State of play: Phoenix's parks ranked 85th among the 100 largest cities, the same position it held last year and just slightly better than suburbs Glendale (90th) and Mesa (96th).

  • Scottsdale was the highest ranked of any large Arizona city, coming in at 57th.

How it works: The score accounts for the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk to a park, access in communities of color, acreage, amenities and the city's financial investment in parks.

Bar chart showing the 2024 ParkScore for the city of Phoenix, overall and across five metrics. Overall, Phoenix scored 39.9 out of 100 for the quality of its parks system, lower than the national median score of 53. The city scored highest in park acreage, at 89.5 points, and lowest in amenities, at 19.5 points.
Data: Trust for Public Land; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The intrigue: Phoenix scored high for acreage — its South Mountain and North Mountain preserves rank among the largest municipal parks in the U.S. — but fell short in every other category.

By the numbers: Less than half of Phoenix residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, per the rankings, compared with 74% of Americans overall who live that close to green space.

  • Phoenix park spending equated to about $91 per resident, compared with the national average of $124.

Zoom in: Phoenix opened its 187th park, Harvest Park in the fast-growing Laveen area, in March.

  • Among its amenities are pickleball courts, a basketball court, playground and amphitheater.

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