by Kelly Tolbert, Recreation Services Coordinator, Prescott Parks and Recreation
One of the most visited of all parks in the City of Prescott, Acker Park is just over 80 acres and provides visitors with a plethora of opportunities to enjoy the natural environment.
With approximately 60,000 annual visitors, the park is the result of a generous donation to the City by J.S. Acker, a longtime business owner and resident. He bequeathed over 100 parcels of real estate to the City with the stipulation that they be used for “promotion of music, especially for children.” Acker owned and operated a stationery and candy store on South Cortez Street and enjoyed the daily visits from school children.
A prolific nonprofit group known as The Friends of J.S. Acker Memorial Park was officially organized in 1995 as a grass roots effort aimed at preserving the land for what was perceived as Acker’s intentions. Upon the 20th anniversary of The Friends of Acker, it was decided that many of the goals of the group had been accomplished through preserving the natural feature of the land, construction and maintenance of interpretive nature trails, as well as the addition of various recreation based activities. The group disbanded and an endowment fund was organized under the Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County, with the provision of cash reserves to continue providing for the maintenance of park amenities.
Today, Acker Park offers an internationally known geocache, approximately three miles of hiking trails, excellent birding opportunities, educational experiences, a small playground and improved parking and restroom, all moments from downtown Prescott. Park benches and picnic tables are readily available, providing visitors with unique vistas of the surrounding mountain peaks. A small amphitheater is also on site, allowing for small performances or gatherings.
Due to the vastness of the park, there are five entrances providing access from surrounding neighborhoods. The main entrance is on Virginia Street where restrooms and informational kiosks are located, as well as the playground and amphitheater. Additional access points are from Penn and Eastwood streets, Autumn Breeze Road, Summer Field and Washington Street. The Summer Field entrance received approximately $20,000 in park improvements in late 2017 with a new picnic ramada and bronze memorial marker honoring the late Boyd and Rachel Tenney. This location is ideal for the memorial as it sits within proximity to where the family homestead used to be. Boyd Tenney served 20 years in the state Legislature as a representative, finishing up after nine terms as a senator.
Acker Park is open daily at 7 a.m. and closes at sunset during winter or 10 p.m. during summer. Improved parking is at 421 S. Virginia St. More information can be found at prescott-az.gov/recreation-area/acker-park or prescotttrails.com.