Fall Outdoor Recreation in Central Iowa

Some say fall is the best time of the year, and we tend to agree. This is when the true beauty of Iowa comes to light with fall colors. And while some say Iowa is boring, we disagree. We have beautiful state parks that get even more beautiful in the fall months and events that have us pulling out the flannels to attend.

Jester Park
Jester Park has everything you need for your fall explorations! With 1,661 acres of land, Jester Park has it all. See Bison and Elk herds, hike eight miles of trails full of beautiful fall colors, or even schedule a guided horseback trail ride! You can also fish, golf (including mini!), and more. Want to make a weekend of it? Camping and cabins are available!

State Parks
People may say Iowa is flat, but our State Parks prove otherwise. If you head east towards Pleasant Hill, you can spend the day exploring Yellow Banks Park. Just as its name declares, the park is full of 150-foot yellow banks overlooking the Des Moines River. This is the perfect place to find fall colors for all your autumn selfies and photoshoots. Grab your pup and explore the 576-acre park.

If you want to take more of a mini day trip from Greater Des Moines, head to Ledges State Park in Boone. With a four-mile trail system that leads to amazing views, you are sure to see some of the most beautiful fall colors from a unique perspective. Some of the portions of the trails can get steep, so they even have an interpretive trail for those that don’t feel comfortable. Your camera roll will be full of shots of sandstone ledges towering 100 feet above the Des Moines River. Want to make a weekend of it? Camping is available as well!

Downtown Farmers’ Market

Enjoy the cool, crisp air of fall while exploring the Downtown Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings through October. As one of the largest farmers’ markets in the country, this is a can’t miss when spending a weekend in Greater Des Moines. Browse more than 200 local vendors with fresh produce, art, and more. Did we mention food? You’ll find some of the best local breakfast and lunch options at the market. Grab a breakfast burrito, freshly baked breads, dumplings, smoothies, and more. The choices are endless!

Living History Farms

Looking for a fun day trip with your kids? Head out to Urbandale to Living History Farms. This is a 500-acre open-air museum that includes the 1876 Town of Walnut Hill, plus three working farm sites representing different periods in Iowa’s history. This is the perfect interactive experience to take in on a fall day. Catch an old-style baseball game, help harvest crops, milk a cow, and so much more. Open Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.!

Night Eyes (Blank Park Zoo)
If Halloween is your favorite part of fall, Night Eyes is the perfect way to enjoy the weather, see some animals, and so much more. Head to the Blank Park Zoo from October 19 – 22 and 26 – 29 for the chance to trick-or-treat, see beautiful light displays, play on inflatables, and see and support animals at the zoo. Learn more here.

About the Author: Catch Des Moines is the go to spot for tourists and locals to keep up on events, new places to dine, and plan your mid-west travel itinerary. Check out their site to keep up on all things Des Moines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.