Outdoorsy Family Outings in The Des Moines Area All Year Round

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Outdoorsy Family Outings in The Des Moines Area All Year Round

It may be getting colder, but you can still get outdoors and explore with your family! My family and I ice fish, so we go outside year-round. You only need gear and a great attitude! Here are lists of local areas to explore and the equipment you need to enjoy them. 

Get ready! 

Plan your trip. You can subscribe to the or visit the Iowa DNR website. Nature books describing animals and plants are available at libraries, Earl May, or Barnes & Noble. 

We talk about expectations in the car on the way with our daughter and remind her to stay close. We talk about what we might see, do, and feel while outside. We focus on being quiet and mindful so we don’t scare wildlife away. Afterward, we discuss what we learned. 

Charge your cell phone before you set out. GPS is needed to get there and to find your way back. I once got lost while hiking without my cell phone. I sang the ballad “I’m Lost in the Woods” from Frozen 2 as loud as possible until my family found me! 


  • Terra Park – 6300 Pioneer Pkwy, Johnston – Amazing trails, park, and dock


Most have nature trails, birdwatching, picnicking, and even playgrounds! 



Wildlife Observing 

Places to Fish

Gear to make your exploration enjoyable and safe

Exploring Gear

  • Layers of comfy clothes and coats   
  • Good walking socks and shoes 
  • Sunglasses, hats, gloves, sunblock, bug spray, and lip balm
  • Water bottles and snacks 
  • Sanitizer and First Aid
  • Backpack, stroller, or wagon 
  • Notebook for nature journaling, a sketchbook for doodling, or a Camera or cell phone to take pictures

Fishing Gear

All that is needed to go fishing is a good attitude, gear, and the willingness to wait. Local bait shops or outdoor stores like Scheels or Bass Pro Shop carry excellent fishing gear. Remember that the first week of June is the only free fishing weekend; otherwise, buy your license

Open Water Fishing Gear- spring, summer, fall:

  • License
  • Fishing Pole
  • Bait and Tackle

Ice Fishing Gear – winter (check with the DNR that the ice is safe by 8 inches and use the buddy system for safety!): 

  • Ice auger
  • Inflatable ice jacket or bibs
  • Ice fishing rod and reel 
  • Ice fishing jigs and bait 

Camping Gear

  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Change of Clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Food and Extra Water  
  • Lighter and campfire wood to start the fire! 

So, there you have some great ideas to get out and explore nature in Iowa, no matter the weather!

Chantel Boyd

Chantel Boyd

Chantel Boyd is a resident of Johnston and a native Iowan. She runs a creative marketing agency with her husband. In her free time, she loves spending time outdoors with her family, fishing, riding horses, hunting for Morel mushrooms, and exploring wildlife. Chantel is excited to share all her secrets about how to get out in the area and enjoy nature as a family! Chantel Boyd is the Co-Owner of Boyd Creative, a boutique creative marketing studio she runs with her husband, Andrew. https://www.boydcreativeprintshop.com https://www.instagram.com/boydcreativeprintshop/ https://www.facebook.com/BoydCreativePrintShop

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