Central Iowa Trek the Parks Challenge
Des Moines Outdoor Fun and Des Moines Parent want you to get outside this summer and explore central Iowa. That is why we have created the ‘Central Iowa Trek the Parks Challenge’. The communities within central Iowa offer many parks, trails, spray grounds, and more, we want you to get out and discover them.
The 2023 Central Iowa Trek the Parks Challenge will kick off on June 1 and run until August 20. During this period of time, we encourage everyone to visit 30 of 35 parks on the list.
When you show your 2023 Central Iowa Trek the Parks Challenge sheet at the following locations you will receive a special discount!
- Valley Community Center – One FREE drink
- Sugar Give Goods (located near Mound Park in Dallas Center) – One FREE drink
- Dinner Dispatch – Use code LETSTREK15 15% off On-the-Go Kits
Trek the Park Meetups
We are excited about something new for 2023! We will have three planned Trek the Park Meetups. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to meet other families in our community doing the same challenge as you and cross a park off your list. Save the date for the following meetups!
Trek the Park Kick-Off Party – Sunday, June 4 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Join us at The Brenton Arboretum for our first-ever Trek the Park Kick-Off Party! There will be free popsicles (while supplies last), free kids’ yoga, activities, and more. Join the Facebook event here to stay up to date.
Trek the Park Meetup – Monday, June 12 from 9 to 11 a.m.
Join us at the Valley Community Center to help celebrate Love You DSM Days! We will be there with the Dinner Dispatch creating our own Build Your Own Yogurt Parfaits. Join the Facebook event here to stay up to date.
Trek the Park Meetup – Monday, July 10 from 10 a.m. to Noon
Join us at Walker Johnston Park in Urbandale with Bubbles from Goldfish Swim School. Join the Facebook event here to stay up to date.
- Visit a park on the Central Iowa Trek the Parks list and submit your photos via this form and (for extra entries) post a photo of you at the park using the hashtag #DSMOFTrektheParks23 on Facebook or Instagram.
- If you visit and submit a photo of 30 parks you will be entered to win the grand prize.
- If you visit and submit a photo for at least 10 parks you will be entered to win a prize.
- All winners will be randomly chosen and finalized by August 27, 2023. We will post the winning list on this page and email you how to claim your prize at that time.
- NOTE: Please make sure all social media platforms are set as public, not private, so we are able to see your photos and hashtags if you choose to enter extra entries.
** Please note: We are working to add details for each park. Keep checking back as we update details, links, etc. throughout the Summer.
1. Brenton Arboretum – Dallas Center
- Learn more about Brenton Arboretum here.
- Join us for our first annual Trek the Parks Kick-Off event on Sunday, June 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. It’s going to be a grand time.
- Enjoy Nature Club is offered on the first and third Thursday of the month. Register and take a look at other fun events on their event calendar.
- Head home through Dallas Center and make a stop for lunch or ice cream at Korner Kone.
- Need some coffee on your way? Stop at Sugar Grove Goods for some coffee and a treat. Show your Trek the Parks sheet for a FREE beverage!
- Bring your bike along and jump on the bike trail in Dallas Center and ride to the trailhead in Waukee. Grab a craft beer at Kinship Beer.
2. Mound Park – Dallas Center
- Mound Park is located just down the way from Sugar Grove Goods. Show your Trek the Parks sheet for a FREE beverage!
- Stop at Korner Kone for lunch or a sweet treat.
- Bring your bikes along and jump on the bike path! You can find the Raccoon River Valley Trailhead in Dallas Center.
3. Keuhn Conservation – Earlham
- Learn more about Keuhn Conservation here.
- Keuhn Conservation should definitely be planned as a day trip. You can also include Winterset City Park on this trip.
- Enjoy fishing, hiking, and more.
- Make a stop for coffee, breakfast, or lunch at Beans & Beignets. You will not regret it!
4. Winterset City Park – Winterset
- Learn more about Winterset City Park here.
- Tour all the covered bridges in the area.
- Make a stop at Rusty Stars Alpacas and play with the alpacas.
- Head into town. Winterset has the cutest square filled with restaurants and shopping.
5. Miracle Park at Inis Grove Park – Ames
6. Moore Memorial Park – Ames
7. Colby Park – Windsor Heights
- Learn more about Colby Park here.
- Make a stop at Dinner Dispatch to grab a picnic lunch and/or a freezer meal for dinner.
- Stop at Grounds of Celebration for coffee, breakfast, and/or lunch.
- Catch a movie under the stars! The City of Windsor Heights is offering several movie nights. Take a look at the dates here.
- Bring your bikes and hop on the bike trail for a bike ride.
8. American Legion Park – West Des Moines
- Learn more about American Legion Park here.
- Bring a swimsuit and towel. You will have tons of fun splashing on the sprayground.
- Venture into the Historical Valley Junction for lunch and shopping. Make a stop at some of my favorite places including Reading in Public Bookstore + Cafe, Coffee Cats Cafe, or Big Acai Bowl.
9. Witmer Park – Des Moines
10. Peony Park – West Des Moines
The Free Little Art Mart (FLAM) is up and ready for you to fill its shelves with art! Stop by Peony Park anytime to get the sharing started. Here are the Free Little Art Mart rules:
- All FLAM art is FREE
- Contribute art that is suitable for all/any ages
- Take any piece of art that speaks to you
11. Valley Community Center “Eric’s Place” – West Des Moines
- Learn more about Valley Community Center “Eric’s Place” here.
- Join us for a Trek the Park Meetup on Monday, June 5 from 9 to 11 a.m. to meet other Trek the Park participants and build your own parfait with Dinner Dispatch.
- The Valley Community Center offers free programming throughout the week. Take a look at their event calendar and plan your visit and save the date for Love You DSM Days June 10-18.
- Don’t forget to show your Trek the Parks Sheet for a FREE drink at the cafe inside Valley Community Center.
- Before you make your stop, grab donuts at Mahalo’s Coffee & Donuts.
- Explore the West Des Moines Public Library and take a walk around the campus pond.
- Catch a FREE yoga class on the lawn of the West Des Moines City Hall every Sunday morning from 9 to 10 a.m. Open to all ages.
12. Yellow Banks State Park – Pleasant Hill
- Learn more about Yellow Banks State Park here.
13. Doanes Park – Pleasant Hill
- Learn more about Doanes Park here.
- Keep your eyes open! The new splash pad is set to open on July 1st.
- Ready for an EXTRA challenge? Take a look at the City of Pleasant Hill’s Summer Passport Program.
- Participate in fun programming in Pleasant Hill.
14. Copper Creek Lake Park – Pleasant Hill
15. Enabling Garden – Altoona
- Learn more about the Enabling Garden here.
- Cool off at the Prairie Heritage Park splash pad located next door.
16. Sawgrass Park – Ankeny
- Learn more about Sawgrass Park here.
17. Otter Creek – Ankeny
- Learn more about Otter Creek Park here.
18. Stonegate Park – Clive
- Learn more about Stonegate Park here.
19. Scenic Valley Park – Clive
20. Campbell Recreation Area – Clive
- Learn more about Campbell Recreation Area here.
- Enjoy Food Truck Fridays on various Fridays May through August from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
21. Jeff Harm Park – Urbandale
22. Walker Johnston Park – Urbandale
- Learn more about Walker Johnston Park here.
- Join us for a Trek the Parks Meetup on Monday, July 10 from 10 to 11 a.m. with Goldfish Swim School. You do not want to miss this chance to see Bubbles!
- Save the date for Party in the Park on June 9 from 5 to 9 p.m.
- Walk, bike, hike, and more.
- Make a stop at the Urbandale Public Library for storytime or other fun activity.
- Enjoy a StoryWalk around the pond.
23. Dewey Park – Johnston
- Learn more about Dewey Park here.
- Stop for ice cream at VanDee’s Ice Cream.
- You will not be far from Johnston Towncenter which offers a fun splash pad, weekly Farmers Market, and more.
- The Johnston Public Library and Johnston Commons Playground are not far either!
24. Terra Park – Johnston
25. Thomas Mitchell Park – Mitchellville
- Learn more about Thomas Mitchell Park here.
26. MacRae Park – Des Moines
- Learn more about MacRae Park here.
- They are currently still doing improvements around the park.
- After you explore the outdoors make a stop at Monsterama for lunch and arcade games.
- Grab lunch at Angry Goldfish Pub & Eatery located directly across the street. They offer a kid’s menu!
- Visit the Blank Park Zoo in the morning and play at the park in the afternoon.
27. Evergreen Park – Des Moines
28. Gray’s Lake – Des Moines
- Learn more about Gray’s Lake here.
- Enjoy free yoga in the park every Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m. on the Southeast Lawn.
- Walk under the bridge and explore Water Works Park!
29. Ashby Park – Des Moines
- Learn more about Ashby Park here.
- Spend the day splashing and playing at Ashby Park then head to Snookie’s Malt Shop for a classic frozen treat.
30. Triumph Park – Waukee
- Learn more about Triumph Park here.
- Located not far from Alice Nizzi Park and Fox Creek Splash Pad. A fun place to cool off on a hot summer day.
- Catch an afternoon movie and lunch at The Palms Theatre & IMAX. They offer discounted kids’ movies throughout the Summer.
- Head down the road to Kinship Brewery for food, drinks, BINGO, live music, and more. Jump on the bike path and head towards Dallas Center!
31. Sugar Creek Park – Waukee
- Learn about Sugar Creek Park here.
32. Lost Lake Park – Polk City
- Learn about Lost Lake Park here.
- Grab a sweet treat at the creamery polk city on the town square.
- Need some caffeine? Grab a cup of joe or lunch at Rising Sun Cafe.
- Take a fun art class at Kids Create located on the town square.
33. Polk City Town Square – Polk City
- Grab a sweet treat from the creamery Polk City, or sign-up for a fun art class at Kids Create.
- Wander to the giant wooden playground at Big Creek State Park and on your way cross Lost Lake Park off your list!
- Save the date! July 14-15 is the Four Season Festival filled with tons of family-friendly fun.
34. Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens – Downtown Des Moines
- Learn more about Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens here.
- Located on the Principal Riverwalk near Lauridsen Skatepark and Rotary Riverwalk Park.
- Make a stop at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden for some fun!
35. Rotary Riverwalk Park – Downtown Des Moines
- Learn more about Rotary Riverwalk Park here.
- Bring your scooters, skates, and/or skateboards, and enjoy Lauridsen Skatepark right next door.
- Pack lunch and play around the Rotary Riverwalk Park.
- Grab your bikes and bike along the Des Moines Riverwalk. How far can you go?
- Cross over the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge and head to Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens.
- Head into the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and walk through the gardens and grab lunch at Trellis. The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden offers fun events and activities throughout the Summer. Take a look at their event calendar. Music in the Garden is held every Thursday!
Interactive Park Map
The 2023 winners have been selected and have been contacted via email.
Huge shout out to our amazing sponsors and donors who support this fun challenge for families all over central Iowa.
Grand Prize – Only one available. You must visit 30 of the 35 parks to be entered to win.
Overnight Glamping Package with a picnic set up from The Traveling Basket. Valued at $500.
Other Prizes – Anyone who visits at least 10 parks will be entered to win the below prizes.
- (3) Des Moines Parent Kid Bag + Des Moines Parent Kid T-shirt Swag Bag
- Brenton Arboretum Gift Basket
- $40 Gift Certificate to Wander Women
- Hand Me Down Talents goodies
- Private stand-up paddleboard event for up to 10 people for one of your winners. They must be 8 years old or older to participate. Provided by Warren County Conservation.
- $50 Kids Create Gift Certificate
- Ocean Breeze Massage Gift Basket valued at $250
- (10 available) – 2 Buy One Get One The Palms Theatre and IMAX Tickets + $10 Target gift card.