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Florence Ely Nelson Desert Park-Scottsdale

We made a trip to the east side with this park, the Florence Ely Nelson Desert Park. If you are looking for a little trail that is easily navigable for toddlers and strollers, this is a great park for you. While it is still pretty “city” like, it is on a hill away from a lot of traffic and has just a small loop of a trail. There is also a building at this park that looks like it was a nature or recreational facility at one time, but now just houses some bathrooms and a multi use room.


The Bathrooms were nice and clean and between the trail section of the park and the playgrounds.

Here is a great map of the park that is simplified. The parking for the park is a little strange. The signs for the park on Pinnacle Peak Road were at the back of a shopping center, which I thought was strange. There is a ramp that will lead you up to the park, but we weren’t sure exactly where we were going. I think the best route is to turn into the parking lot after the park, which would be the entrance to Highland’s church. There is plenty of parking right there next to the playground.


At this park there are two playgrounds, both partially shaded, green area and a lit basketball court. They also mention there is a spray pad, which we will get to later!


Two big kid swings and two baby swings. You can see the church in the background and parking as well.



The toddler playground was a little below the big kids playground and far from the swings. I really saw a missed opportunity with this part of the playground. There was a wall that was about 1 1/2 feet tall that separated the big kids playground from the little kids playground. After much use, a path had been worn down to go one long way around in the dirt to get from one to another quickly, but there was a long sidewalk that truly connected them. My children kept hopping up and down on the wall, which could be a little nerve wracking if you have wee ones chasing older ones.


In the above picture you can see the wall that separates the bigger kids playground from the wee ones, and the “worn down path”.


The Big kids’ playground had lots of slides and climbing things. Our Dimples, now 19 months got to the top of this pretty quickly and almost made a tumble off one of the edges, which was at least 10′ up in the air. The ground underneath is partial sand and partial gummy, rubbery playground material.


There were lots of great climbing opportunities for Munchie, who is five. He really enjoyed all of the things he could monkey around on.



Here’s another picture of all the bars and slides in the background.

I mentioned that there was a spray pad, right? Unfortunately, the creators of this park used that term loosely. Very loosely!


Do you see those balls in the foreground and background that look like there is a cloud around them? Those are the “spray pad”. It is more like “concrete balls with a rock covering that mist”. And, they have them in sand. If you have ever been to a place where there is sand and water, you know that it can be fun-but there are consequences. Namely, sand in the eyes. I have to say, this was a HUGE disappointment for me. My son seemed to like it, but I disliked the amount of sand that was completely caked on him. I was waiting for sand to get into the eyes, but we were extremely fortunate that it did not happen.

This park definitely has some pluses (the trail, bathrooms, some shade), but it also has a lot of downsides ( the way the playgrounds are separated, parking, sand and water and just misters). If you are in the area and need a quick release of energy for your wee one, this park may be something you would want to try. I’m not the biggest fan of it, but we will try more on the east side soon!

The Basics

Florence Ely Nelson Desert Park

8950 E Pinnacle Peak Road, Scottsdale, AZ

This park includes:
Basketball Courts, Covered Playground, Ramadas, Restrooms, Walking Paths


  1. Top Toddler Friendly Places - Surprise AZ Mom on July 10, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    […] Florence Ely Nelson Desert Park-Scottsdale-With a nice little walking trail, bathrooms, little spray “balls” and a toddler playground and big kid playground, this park is sure to hit marks with families with kids of all ages. Basketball courts are located right next to the playground and it is not on a busy street. […]

  2. […] This area is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city. A nice little botanical garden which is centered near a shopping center and church, there are little walks that are kid friendly plus bathrooms, a little nature center and playgrounds and little spray features too! You can read our full review here: […]

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