(Queen Creek) – In 2004, Maricopa County’s Parks and Recreation Department began implementing San Tan Mountain Regional Park’s Master Plan. The Master Plan called for a main park entry, and proposed two secondary trailheads to provide additional access to the park. In response to public demand regarding access, and the need for interconnection with local and regional trail systems, the plan identified one trailhead in the northern portion of the park, and another along the southern finger.
While both trailheads have been constructed, the department never expected the Goldmine Trailhead, the park’s northern access point near Skyline and Wagon Wheel Roads, to become a favorite destination point among park visitors in such a short amount of time.
“Last year, more than 103,000 people visited San Tan Mountain Regional Park,” said Maricopa County Supervisor Denny Barney, District 1. “Twenty percent of those visitors entered through the northern access point. While the increase in visitation is a boon for the park, the vast numbers have begun impacting the local neighborhood.”
In an effort to address the parking issues, the department has partnered with Pinal County, the Town of Queen Creek, and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. While the agencies research long-term options, several short-term solutions to curb the parking problem are being rolled out. These include:
- Designated parking. Recently, the department designed a solution to optimize parking in the area, and added delineators to the site to identify designated parking spaces. The 1/3-acre parking area now contains 52 designated parking spaces.
- Alternate parking lot. When the Goldmine Trailhead parking lot is full, park visitors may park in the main entrance parking lot located at 6533 W. Phillips Rd. Park visitors are being asked not to park along the roadway in the surrounding neighborhood.
- Signage. Larger signs have been posted on Wagon Wheel Road, and the trailhead, outlining parking options for individuals visiting the area. The Town of Queen Creek is also working to install updated parking signage along the roadway.
- Gate. A locking gate has been installed at the Goldmine trailhead. The gate will remain open during business hours. After hours, the gate will be locked to discourage vandalism and after hour parties in the area.
- Outreach efforts. Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies and park staff have increased their presence in the area to encourage visitors to park in designated lots. In addition, updates have been posted on the park kiosk, and on social media sites.
It is important to Maricopa County’s Parks and Recreation Department that multiple solutions for the area are evaluated from both a park visitor experience and homeowner standpoint. The overall goal is to make sure park visitors are using the parking lots when they arrive to recreate on the trails. However, it is also important to the department that the park’s livelihood does not impact the neighborhood with an abundance of vehicles along the roadway.
“There is a planning process in which the department must go through to ensure that all options, concepts, and ideas are heard and reviewed. This process does take time and money. In the end, I believe the final outcome will be something that can accommodate all parties,” added R.J. Cardin, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department Director.
To assist with planning process efforts, the agencies are asking park visitors to complete a short online survey - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/goldminetrailhead.
"San Tan Mountain Regional Park is a great complement to the parks and trails that are offered in The Town of Queen Creek,” shared Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney. “The Town will continue to partner with Maricopa County to ensure we are meeting the needs of park patrons while balancing the needs of homeowners that surround the park. We look forward to the continued success of San Tan Mountain Regional Park, as it provides recreational benefits to our residents.”
The Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department will continue to post updates for the northern parking lot on the website and the park’s Facebook account. To reach a broader audience, Pinal County and the Town of Queen Creek have offered to provide assistance by posting the information on their websites and social media accounts.
“This park is an economic development driver for the region,” said Pinal County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Cheryl Chase. “The increased visitation shows that people from inside and outside of Arizona are taking notice of the beauty in this area and are continuing to spread the word to their friends and neighbors. It’s a win for all of our communities.”
San Tan Mountain Regional Park is located at 6533 W. Phillips Road in Queen Creek. To learn more about the park, visit http://www.maricopa.gov/parks/santan/.