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Walnut Woods State Park

Walnut Woods State Park is a tranquil destination for anyone seeking the outdoors not far from the state’s capital city. The park is home to Iowa’s largest stand of black walnut trees, with one of the park system’s finest examples of a 1930s CCC-era lodge. Nearby, launch a canoe at the Purple Martin Water Resource Area or observe the purple martins that inhabit the area. These fascinating birds have their own unique establishment near the lake.


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. All campsites have electric features and 8 sites have water/sewer/electric hookups. The campground does not have showers, but it does contain modern restrooms and a sanitary dump station. Camping reservations can be made through the online reservation system for Walnut Woods State Park, and 100 percent of campsites are reservable and a reservation is required.  The campground accepts reservations year round.

Birdwatch at the bird blind observation station in Walnut Woods State Park or 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 Walnut Woods State Park 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.

Walnut Woods State Park
3155 SE Walnut Woods Dr
West Des Moines, IA 50265
Ph. 515-285-4502
Fax: 515-285-7476

The eastern portion of the Walnut Woods trail will be closed indefinately for construction. All other trails remain open.


  • Bird observation stations
  • Hiking trails
  • Playground
  • Boat ramp
  • Day-use lodge ; ADA accessible
  • Picnic areas
  • Modern restrooms
  • Electric campsites
  • Full-hookup campsites
  • Youth group only campsites
  • RV only campsites
    (limited or no space for tent)
  • Firewood sales
  • Dump station