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Discovering Raccoon River Park: A Jewel in West Des Moines, IA

Situated in the heart of West Des Moines, Iowa, Raccoon River Park stands as a beloved recreational haven for residents and visitors alike. Covering over 630 acres, the park offers a diverse range of activities and natural attractions, making it a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts and families. Let’s explore the highlights of Raccoon River Park and see why it’s a treasured gem in the community. Information can be found here.

A Scenic Natural Retreat:

Raccoon River Park is characterized by its lush landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and the picturesque Blue Heron Lake. The park’s natural beauty is enhanced by a mix of woodlands, prairies, and wetlands, creating a serene environment for visitors to enjoy. The lake, spanning 232 acres, serves as the centerpiece of the park, providing opportunities for both recreation and relaxation. See here for information about Preserving History: Exploring the Jordan House in West Des Moines, IA.

Recreational Activities:

The park offers an array of recreational activities that cater to all interests and age groups. Hikers and nature lovers can explore the park’s extensive trail system, which includes the popular Raccoon River Park Trail. This 3.2-mile loop trail winds around Blue Heron Lake, offering stunning views and opportunities for wildlife observation. For those who prefer biking or jogging, the trail is well-maintained and suitable for various fitness levels.

Water-Based Fun:

Blue Heron Lake is a hub of water-based activities. The lake’s clean, calm waters are perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. A designated swimming beach provides a safe and enjoyable spot for families to cool off during the summer months. Fishing enthusiasts can take advantage of the lake’s abundant fish populations, which include bass, catfish, and bluegill. The park also features a boat ramp for easy access to the water.

Sports and Play Areas:

Raccoon River Park is equipped with numerous sports facilities, making it a popular destination for athletic activities. The park boasts several baseball and softball fields, a soccer complex, and a sand volleyball court. Additionally, the park’s playgrounds are designed to entertain children of all ages, with modern equipment and safe play surfaces.

Nature Lodge and Learning Center:

The Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge serves as an educational hub and community gathering space. The lodge offers interactive exhibits and educational programs that highlight the park’s natural history, wildlife, and conservation efforts. Visitors can learn about local flora and fauna, participate in hands-on activities, and attend workshops led by naturalists and park staff.

Dog Park:

For dog owners, Raccoon River Park features a spacious and well-maintained off-leash dog park. This dedicated area allows dogs to run, play, and socialize in a safe environment. The dog park is divided into sections for large and small dogs, ensuring a pleasant experience for all furry visitors.

Picnicking and Relaxation:

The park is dotted with picnic shelters and tables, providing ideal spots for family gatherings, barbecues, and leisurely meals outdoors. Grills are available for use, and the scenic surroundings make for a relaxing and enjoyable dining experience. Whether you’re planning a large group event or a quiet picnic, the park offers ample facilities to accommodate your needs.

Environmental Stewardship:

Raccoon River Park is committed to environmental stewardship and sustainability. The park’s management practices emphasize habitat preservation, water quality protection, and sustainable resource use. Educational initiatives and community involvement programs aim to raise awareness about environmental conservation and encourage responsible recreation.


Raccoon River Park is a vibrant and multifaceted destination that offers something for everyone. From its scenic trails and water activities to its educational programs and sports facilities, the park provides a wealth of opportunities for recreation, relaxation, and learning. As a cherished asset of West Des Moines, Raccoon River Park continues to enrich the lives of its visitors and foster a deep appreciation for the natural world. Whether you’re seeking adventure, tranquility, or family fun, this park promises an unforgettable experience amidst the beauty of Iowa’s landscapes.

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