Central Iowa Trek the Parks Challenge

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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 2024 Central Iowa Trek the Parks Challenge will kick off on June 1 and run until August 25. During this period, we encourage everyone to visit 30 of 35 parks on the list.

Receive Discounts

You will receive a special discount when you show your 2024 Central Iowa Trek the Parks Challenge sheet at the following locations!

Trek the Park Meetups

We are excited to bring back 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 2 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Join us at The Brenton Arboretum for our first-ever Trek the Park Kick-Off Party! Free popsicles (while supplies last), free kids’ activities, and more! Join the Facebook event here to stay up to date.

Trek the Park Meetup – Monday, June 10 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.

The Rules

  • Visit a park on the Central Iowa Trek the Parks list submit your photos via this form and (for extra entries) post a photo of you at the park using the hashtag #DSMOFTrektheParks24 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 of at least 10 parks you will be entered to win a prize.
  • All winners will be randomly chosen and finalized by September 1, 2024. 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 can see your photos and hashtags if you choose to enter extra entries. 

2024 Parks

** 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!

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. Winterset City Park – Winterset

4. Valley Community Center “Eric’s Place” – West Des Moines

  • Learn more about Valley Community Center “Eric’s Place”
  • Join us for a Trek the Park Meetup on Monday, June 10 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 plan your visit and save the date for Love You DSM Days June 7-16.
  • 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.

5. Raccoon River Park – West Des Moines

  • The Raccoon River Park Playground is all new. Make sure you check it out.
  • Have a four-legged friend? Check out the Racoon River Dog Park.
  • Rent a kayak or canoe from the Raccoon River Boathouse and take it out on Blue Heron Lake.
  • Grab breakfast at Eggs & Jam before you head to the park located not too far.
  • Save the date for the annual Raccoon River Palooza which has been moved to summer. It is scheduled for June 8.

6. Brown’s Woods – West Des Moines

  • Pack your bug spray and wear your hiking shoes! Brown’s Woods offers many trails to hike and explore nature.

7. Scenic Valley Park – West Des Moines

  • Scenic Valley Park was newly renovated in 2023.
  • This park is located about a 1/2 mile from Raccoon River Park.

8. Meacham Place Park – Pleasant Hill 

9. Doanes Park – Pleasant Hill

10. Haines Park Splash Pad – Altoona

  • New splash pad

11. Village Park – Altoona

12. Ironwood Park – Altoona

13. Stonegate Park – Clive

  • Please note that Stonegate Park is scheduled to open in early summer and may not be open at the start of the challenge.

14. Murphy Park – Urbandale

  • This is a new playground to explore in Urbandale!
  • Located near Merle Hay Mall so if you are looking for lunch or some indoor activities head there to play.

15. Lions Park – Urbandale 

16. Barrett Boesen Natural Playscape – Urbandale

  • Get dirty and have fun at this natural playscape in Urbandale!
  • Waterford Park is located right across the street and offers disc golf.
  • The bike path runs around the area. Bring your bike!

17. Johnston Commons Playground – Johnston

  • Learn more about this fun park in Johnston.
  • Check the Johnston Public Library event calendar and plan your visit around a storytime or other family-friendly event.
  • There is a basketball court and public fishing at the pond nearby.
  • Johnston Towncenter is located just down the street and offers a splash pad, farmers market, and movie nights during the Summer.
  • Grab lunch at Backpocket Pin & Pixel or coffee at Blue Bean.

18. Water Works Park – Grimes

19. Glynn Village Park – Waukee

20. Stratford Crossing Park – Waukee

21. Iowa Arboretum – Madrid

  • There is a small fee to enter the Iowa Arboretum

22. Zo-El Annett Woods – Prole

  • Learn more about this kid-friendly hiking experience!
  • This park is not far from Rose Farm which offers Farm School for children every Friday during the Summer.

23. Mayor Tom Becker Park – Cumming

  • Learn more about this farm-themed playground outside of Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Middlebrook Farm offers Fridays at the Farm every Friday evening which consists of live music, vendors, food, and fun.
  • Wilson’s Farm in Cumming is now open! They offer U-pick flowers and produce, restaurants, and more. Check out their offerings and events before you head that direction.
  • One of our favorites Howell’s Greenhouse & Pumpkin Patch is just down the road where you can find hours of farm fun, plus goat cuddling during the Summer.

24. North Park All-Inclusive Playground – Carlisle

25. Midway Park – Ankeny

  • Learn more about Midway Park in Ankeny.
  • Midway Park is also less than a mile from the new Ankeny Library. Plan to attend a storytime or other free programming.

26. Deer Creek Park – Ankeny

27. Easter Lake Shelter #1 Playground – Des Moines

  • Learn more about Easter Lake Shelter #1 Playground in Des Moines.
  • Athene North Shore Recreation Area is located in the same area!
  • Easter Lake Shelter #1 Playground is less than two miles from Ashley Okland Park.
  • It is recommended to park at Ashley Okland Park and do a family bike ride to Easter Lake’s playgrounds.

28. McHenry Park & Sprayground – Des Moines

  • Learn more about McHenry Park & Sprayground
  • From the south side of McHenry Park, you can see Riverview Park.
  • Within McHenry Park being less than 1/2 a mile from the historic Highland Park neighborhood, there are so many locally owned businesses to visit such as The Slow Down Coffee Co., ChaCha’s Hiland Bakery, Des Moines Mercantile, The Little Book, and more.

29. Athene North Shore Recreation Area – Des Moines

30. Sheridan Park and Sprayground – Des Moines

  • Learn more about Sheridan Park and Sprayground in Des Moines.
  • Grab some of Des Moines’ classic homemade flour tacos from Tasty Tacos.
  • Grab a coffee or brunch at Cafe Con Leche.
  • Granny’s Sweet Freeze is an absolute delight!

31. Frisbie Park – Des Moines

  • Learn more about Frisbie Park near Valley Junction.
  • Located just 1/2 mile from Valley Junction, after playing at the playground, grab a sweet treat at Nan’s Nummies 
  • Check out a locally owned bookstore and grab a coffee at Reading in Public Bookstore + Cafe.

32. Chesterfield Park – Des Moines

33. Cohen Park – Des Moines

34. Reichardt Family Natural Play Area – Des Moines

35. Ashley Okland Star Playground – Des Moines

  • Learn more about this inclusive playground within Ewing Park.
  • Grab your bikes, and helmets, and head next door to the 80/35 BMX Track!
  • Make sure you wear your hiking shoes. There are tons of trails in the area to hike and explore.

Interactive Park Map

Prizes, Prizes!

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.

Jane Antonovich Designs – Design “Kid Space” in someone’s home – maybe a playroom, family room, or kid bedroom. “One Room Virtual Design” includes all the check-ins, meetings, and design time. Retails at nearly $2,000.

Other Prizes – Anyone who visits at least 10 parks will be entered to win the below prizes.

  • Warrior Lanes – Family bowling package gift certificate redeemable for 90 minutes of bowling. Includes on one lane, for up to 5 guests. This includes up to 5 shoe rentals and a free pitcher of soda. It is valued up to $85.00.
  •  Wander Women – Adventure Baskets valued at $100
  • $50 Gift Card Home Sweet Cone in Waukee from Realtor Jenna Jordison with Century 21 Signature Real Estate
  • The Traveling Basket – A Picnic for 4
  • Winterset Parks & Recreation – 2-night stay at the City Park Campground (still will need to pay the $5 reservation fee)
  • binSpire LLC – $30 Gift Certificate
  • (10 available) – 2 Buy One Get One The Palms Theatre and IMAX Tickets + $10 Target gift card.

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!

One thought on “Central Iowa Trek the Parks Challenge

  1. Putting Evergreen Park on this list was horrible. The neighborhood is sketchy, the park lacks a parking lot, and it really has minimal things there. There are many better parks than that one.

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