Hike more than two miles of trails, meandering through wooded bottomland along the Raccoon River. Cross-country skiing is a popular activity in the winter. Three miles from the park is the Great Western multi-use trailhead that links Des Moines and Martensdale along its paved, 16.5 mile path.
Camp in one of the shaded campsites at Walnut Woods. Most campsites have electric features. The campground does not have showers, but it does contain modern restrooms and a sanitary dump station. Advance campsite reservations can be made online.
Birdwatch at the bird blind in Walnut Woods State Park or at the observation station at the Purple Martin Water Resource Area. Bird-watching is especially popular during summer and fall months with flycatchers, warblers, hawks, owls and several different kinds of songbirds waiting to be spotted.
Fish or canoe along the meandering Raccoon River. Visitors can fish from the riverbank or launch their boat from the ramp located on the west end of the park. Since the park elevation is not much higher than the normal river level, the water level is constantly changing.
Reserve the recently renovated 1930s CCC lodge through the online reservation system for weddings, graduations or large family gatherings. The year-round lodge offers both indoor and outdoor fireplaces, along with a shaded outdoor shelter area and lawn. Several shaded picnic areas with fire grills can also be found in the park.