10 Things to Do at Jester Park in Granger, Iowa

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10 Things to Do at Jester Park in Granger, Iowa

We love exploring central Iowa parks and we definitely have some favorites! One of our number one favorites is Jester Park in Granger, Iowa which sits on 1,661 acres of land and offers endless opportunities for fun things to do in the quiet country. This great park is located in Polk County and it is much more than the average park that you may hike, camp, and play in. There are many diverse recreational experiences. We are breaking down 10 things to do at Jester Park during your next visit. 

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1. Miniature Golf

Jester Park Golf Course is a fun time, but they also offer a miniature golf course perfect for families. This mini-course is located right next to the driving range and offers gorgeous Iowa views with a nature-themed, 18-hole course. Check out their seasonal hours and prices.

2. Equestrian Center

The Jester Park Equestrian Center is such a fun place to visit. They offer trail rides, horseback riding lessons, wagon, and a sleigh ride during the Winter months, camps, and more. One of our favorite events they offer several times throughout the year is Pony Tales. A special time when families are invited to come to listen to a story and have a chance to pet and visit with the horses afterward. Take a look at their event calendar for all their upcoming events. 

3. Camping

There are plenty of Jester Park campsites! If you plan to take in all the things this park has to offer there may not be time all in one day. Camping is a great way to extend your visit. Jester offers a ton of camping opportunities including tent and RV camping. Jump on the Camper’s Loop Trail which connects the campgrounds together. They also have beautiful, modern reservable cabins to rent out. Looking to have a family reunion or friends together outdoors? The modern rental cabin is perfect and you can book the Jester Park Lodge if you have a big event happening with large groups. There are just a few of them and they book up quickly. Take a look at all the camping options and make reservations. 

4. Jester Park Nature Center

The Jester Park Nature Center and Welcome Center is one of our favorite places to explore all year round. The nature center offers a ton of hands-on exhibits including a Wetlands Island, Prairie Island, Woodland Island, and more. They also offer regular educational programming. Take a look at their event calendar for additional information. 

5. Jester Park Natural Playscape 

The Jester Park Natural Playscape is a great place to cool off on a hot summer day. After you have been hiking or fishing head to this fun area to play. The entire playground is constructed from natural materials and offers a fun water feature. There is plenty of room to climb trees, build with natural resources, hide in the grass, and more. It is a great place for all ages to use their imaginations. 

6. Bison + Elk 

Some days we hop in the car just to make a visit to our large animal friends at Jester Park. It is one of our favorite pastimes. The bison and elk herds are located near the Jester Park Natural Playscape. The elk exhibit is a huge area to watch them eat, bathe in the pond, and wander. There is a lovely display and a walking path around the area. A great place to have a picnic too. Sometimes they get super close which is tons of fun!

7. Jester Park Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center

The Jester Park Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center is a fun place located next to the Jester Park Nature Center. Within this building, they offer a bouldering wall to climb, indoor archery, and air rifle. In addition, you can rent paddle boats to use at the Discovery Pond within the park. This is a great practice facility and rental facility to practice skills and rent gear before heading out into the park. 

8. Discovery Pond 

The Discovery Pond is a short distance from the Nature Center and Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center. This is a great place to fish, paddle boats, look at frogs, and so much more. There is a trail from the Nature Center that leads to the Discovery Pond. 

9. Streamscape 

This fun interactive activity is located around the Jester Park Nature Center. It encourages families to grab a net or bucket and see what they can catch within the streamscape. Another great, free option that can provide hours of outdoor fun. 

Picture from Jester Park Nature Center Facebook Page

10. Hiking 

Last but definitely not least hiking! Jester Park is full of miles of trails and they offer tons of options for different skill levels such as the 8-mile Lakeshore Trail which takes you from the Mile-Long Bridge on the west shore of Saylorville Lake to the parking lot at Trailhead #21. If you have small kids, this is a great place to introduce them to hiking such as the Hickory Ridge Trail. You can find a detailed map here of the network of natural trails. There are tons of picnic areas and picnic shelters available so pack a lunch or snack to make a stop to refuel. The Polk County Conservation also offers a Jester Park Geocaching Challenge Passport to add a little challenge to your hike. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Jester Park located?

Jester Park is located in Granger, Iowa about 20 minutes north of downtown Des Moines. The official address is 12130 NW 128th Street, Granger. 

What other parks are nearby? 

Big Creek State Park is not too far and is a fun place to explore. 

How can I explore the park with others?

Take a look at Wander Women trips put on regularly by Wander Women Iowa

Are there boat ramps available at Jester Park?

Yes! You can access the Western Shore of Saylorville Lake at the Lincoln Access beside the Mile-Long Bridge.


Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

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