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Walnut Woods State Park to offer online reservations for all campsites

  • 3/15/2022 2:24:00 PM
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WEST DES MOINES –Walnut Woods State Park will become Iowa’s second state park to make all of its campsites available for reservation through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) online reservation system, on April 1.

Most state park campgrounds operate with 75 percent of sites as reservable online, with 25 percent available as walk-in only. The plan to offer 100 percent of campsites available for reservation came after a successful pilot project at Maquoketa Caves State Park, in eastern Iowa, in 2021.

According to park staff, many of those walk-in sites either go unused, or create stressful situations for campers hoping for spots when they arrive at the park. The switch at Maquoketa Caves was met with positive feedback, improved efficiency and an uptick in camping reservations.

“We think campers will appreciate all the benefits of real-time, reservable sites,” said Sherry Arntzen, chief of the Parks, Forests and Preserves Bureau. “Now campers will know exactly what sites are available, helping them to save time and plan their trips.”

Site availability will be known in real-time online, including recent cancellations and online reservations can be made the same day. This is a change from most other state park campgrounds that have a two-day reservation window.

“When we were testing this at Maquoketa Caves, a cancellation would occur and within an hour or two that campsite was reserved,” said Arntzen. “Visitors really appreciated knowing with certainty they would have a site, whether they reserved weeks in advance, or made last-minute plans for the weekend.”

Reservations can be made until 9:00 p.m. the day of arrival by going online at  or by calling the reservation call center at 1-877-427-2757 Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the call center is closed on Sundays.

A registration building in the Walnut Woods State Park campground will provide online and telephone reservation information for those who come to the park looking for a site. Campers will no longer need to fill out the paper walk-in registration forms or pay with cash or check; all reservations will require a credit card payment online or over the phone. Customers can still pay by check if the reservation is made through the call center and made at least 21 days in advance. 

Walnut Woods State Park is located on the southeast edge of the Des Moines metro area and is one of the state’s most popular campgrounds with 22 sites, one of which is a youth group site. Learn more at