NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Dallas Is The Worst Outdoor City In America, Outside Magazine Declares

Laurie L. Snidow
Message to Outside magazine, which declares Dallas is the worst outdoor city in the country: Dallas can certainly be outdoorsy. Ever been to White Rock Lake?

Dallas isn’t outdoorsy, Outside magazine says. It calls Dallas “outdoor-challenged.” In fact, the magazine has declared that Dallas is the worst outdoor city in the country.

Outside surveyed the 50 biggest cities in the country. So how did the magazine crunch the numbers?

It relied on data from theTrust for Public Land Park Score Index, which rates park space. (For the record, in the Park Score Index, Dallas ranked in the middle of the 50 cities surveyed.) It also relied on the Siemens Green City Index, which measures waste production, CO2 emissions, and environmental governance, among other things.

Outside also considered the number of bike shops per person. While Portland, Oregon, has one bike shop for every 6,500 people, Dallas has one for just every 59,000.

So what other cities made the list of top five outdoor-challenged cities? Fresno is No. 5; Charlotte is No. 4; Memphis is No. 3.

What town is No. 2? Detroit.

What the magazine says

Here’s what Outside said about Dallas:

“Dallas is the sprawling place of ten-gallon hats and gleaming ten-miles per gallon SUVs. It’s the oil industry’s heart and soul (if it has a heart or soul), where only half of the residents are within walking distance of the tiny smattering of parks within its borders. Not that people walk in Dallas—or take advantage of the paltry public transportation system, or even bike on the scant number of bike lanes. The only way to get from point A to point B is generally to drive, and given the oversized amount of space, the route is hardly ever a short one.”

But the magazine acknowledges a bright spot: the Trinity River Corridor Project.

Residents are ticked off – and they sounded off on Outside’s website:

“This article is ridiculous!!! How is Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) paltry by any stretch of the imagination??  DART's light rail system alone is the largest in North America by miles and in the top 10 for ridership!!!  … White Rock Lake and Lake Ray Hubbard Have been completely left out.   This should be trashed!” “What an asinine write up about Dallas. We've been adding more bike trails over the last few years than MOST cities in America. One circles a suburban lake. ... Urban areas like Uptown provide dwellers with all kinds of walkable areas and closely located retail that includes PARKS.  Did you guys even visit the city?” “In Dallas, much, much is needed to make bicycling better, but it is pretty good and getting better, and some of the suburbs are very progressive. Dallas' public transportation system is good -- every bus has a bicycle rack on the front, and they are heavily used.”

They also sounded off on KERA's Facebook page and NPR's Facebook page:

"Disagree, there's a lot of big, green spaces and lovely neighborhoods to walk through with tons of trees and greenery, even in the heart of the city. I don't own a car and can get all over the metroplex." "I find that very hard to believe. It's tough, especially in July and August, but it cannot be anywhere near the worst." "I think the author needs to do some more research. The stats were poor. SUVs? The DART Rail is very popular. Park and Ride parking lots are full." "I live in Houston and went to Dallas for a weekend with my dog and found a million things to do with her all weekend. We couldn't leave her in the hotel so we had to find dog friendly and outside spots to be with her. We found out that Dallas actually had more parks, dog parks and outside restaurants than Houston."

See, we can be outdoorsy

Here are a few things to remind folks that Dallas is indeed outdoorsy.

White Rock Lake

It’s the 1,015-acre city lake, the crown jewel of Dallas’ parks system. There’s a hike and bike trail, bird watching – and a beautiful view of Dallas. There are cyclists, walkers, runners, rowers, bird watchers and more.

Credit Dave Hensley --

Katy Trail

Nearly 4 miles long, Katy Trail is a hotspot for walkers, runners, cyclists and outdoor lovers. It used to be a railroad line.

Credit Friends of the Katy Trail/Facebook
Katy Trail is a popular place to walk or bike or enjoy nature.

Klyde Warren Park

Klyde Warren Park is the 5.2-acre deck park that’s become a popular gathering place in downtown. It was built over Woodall Rodgers Freeway between Pearl and St. Paul streets. There’s daily free programming, from yoga to concerts.

Credit Richard Wezensky
Klyde Warren Park offers many free activities -- but you have to pay for food from the food trucks.

Photo Credits:

White Rock Lake, top image: L. Snidow

White Rock Lake: Flickr/Dave Hensley

Friends of the Katy Trail/Facebook

Klyde Warren Park: Flickr/Richard Wezensky

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.