Raccoon River Park – West Des Moines

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Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines, Iowa

Raccoon River Park Playground located in West Des Moines was newly updated in the Fall of 2023 and is a crown jewel of West Des Moines! This park is located in the southeast part of the city. Learn more about everything this West Des Moines park has to offer! 

When our family walked up to this playground, we were all in awe. There are two large features that are at the center of the show, a large Netplex tower and a Crab Trap. The Netplex tower has multiple unique ways to climb to the top, giving challenges to the risk-taking kids. There is a large tube slide on the top and two slides at the mid-level. The Crab Trap (similar to the one found at Wiese Park) is unique to the Des Moines metro. It is a large net structure with multiple little obstacles inside it. My kids loved playing ‘castle’ inside of it.

The playground has several different areas that feel open and not crowded if the large two features are crowded. My child who can get overwhelmed at a busy playground appreciated these auxiliary areas–the previous playground’s large pyramid net remains off to the side, an area with a faux turf that had a spinning seat and cozy dome, a mound with a roller slide.

The park has a unique younger kids area that has shade covering. There are two different playhouses that encourage imaginative play but also offer the fun little details of a playground and multiple sensory experiences. One playhouse is for 6-23 month olds so has limited height. The second playground is targeted for 2-5 year olds, 20 interactive features are found in this compact playhouse. 

There is a large area where the swings, we-go round, we-go swings with accessible bay, and we saw are located. All of these are spread out from each other giving kids lots of room to run to and from. This was also an area where I found my quieter kids having a lot of fun. 


Raccoon River Park is located at 2500 Grand Ave in West Des Moines, Iowa. The playground is located on the Northwest end of the lake. 

Basic Park Details

Type: Places to play, places to play swim, places to play soccer and softball, places to hike

Parking: Plenty of parking lots available for parking.

Bathrooms: Yes, flushable toilets, drinking fountains

Shade: Shade trees nearby, shade canopy over the 2-5-year-old portion of the playground

Playground: All-inclusive playground, swings, musical area

Trails: Walking trails. A 3.2-mile trail around Blue Heron Lake (partially paved/gravel). Perfect for a leisurely stroll. 

Water: Public beach at Blue Heron Lake

Official website: The City of West Des Moines helps maintain this park. https://www.wdm.iowa.gov/government/parks-recreation/parks-facilities-trails/raccoon-river-park

Park Amenities

Playground Features

  • We-Saw
  • Roller slide w/ Exit Bench and Transfer Deck
  • Cozy Dome
  • Chill Spinner
  • Sensory Public Art Wall
  • Molded Bucket Seat Swings
  • We-Go-Swing w/ Accessible Bay
  • Symbol Communication Sign
  • Climbing Mounds
  • We-Go Round
  • Rubber ground and Faux grass turf 
  • Hillside Loops
  • E-Pod Steps
  • Ring Tangle Climber
  • Rope Tangle Climber
  • 2-5-year-old Loft Playhouse
  • 6-23 months old Nook Playhouse
  • Swings
  • 12′ Super Netplex Tower
  • Crab Trap
  • Existing Net Climber
  • Fenced and Landscaped Barriers

Blue Heron Lake

Water lovers will love spending the day playing at Raccoon River Park. This park is home to the great Blue Heron Lake which is located in the center of the park. Due to the lake, the park offers an accessible fishing pier, boat access with a boat ramp and boat rentals at the Raccoon River Park Boathouse, and a and swimming beach for people to cool off on hot summer days. The beach area is 500 feet long so there is plenty of room to find some real estate to make camp.

Raccoon River Nature Lodge

The Raccoon River Nature Lodge is a popular multipurpose facility that is reserved by many for business meetings, conferences, educational classes for the area youth, and more. It offers a great setting for many events and looks over the park and 232-acre lake. The West Des Moines Parks and Recreation offers many recreation programs throughout the year open to the public. 

Explore Around the Park

If you are looking to explore another playground nearby, check out:

  • Newly updated Scenic Valley Park is less than half a mile away.
  • Eggs and Jam, 1907 EP True Pkwy Suite 102, is a fun place to grab before running off all the energy at Raccoon River Park. 
Kaci Kennedy

Kaci Kennedy

Kaci is an adventurer and park enthusiast. She will often be exploring Central Iowa parks and finding hidden treasures with her five kids. Most of all, Kaci enjoys sharing all of her discoveries with those around her. Give her a follow on Instagram at @kennedysdoparks.

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