DNR events have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Safety of our users, attendees, partners and staff is most important. When possible, events will be rescheduled and that information will be distributed accordingly. Please check this site frequently for the latest closures, postponements and updates.
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. Advance campsite reservations can be made online.

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 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

STATEWIDE FACILITY CLOSURES: All pit latrines and port-a-potties are closed until April 15, 2020. Due to lack of restroom facilities, all camping cabins and shelters are closed until April 15, 2020. Campgrounds are open but campers must provide their own self-contained bathroom until park restrooms are available. Self-contained includes bathrooms in RVs/travel trailers/5th wheels and portable camping toilets. All modern restroom and shower facilities are currently closed for the winter season. Many parks try to have modern campground facilities open in mid-April, weather permitting. Some parks open modern camping facilities mid to late April, weather permitting. All lodges are currently closed through April 30, 2020. Playgrounds are not cleaned and sanitized. DNR strongly recommends visitors avoid playgrounds to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 - user discretion is advised. (POSTED 3/30/2020)
Winter Closure: The modern restrooms and dump station at Walnut Woods are closed for the season. Water hydrants at full hookup sites will remain on until Nov. 11, 2019. Please disconnect water hoses when temperatures are below freezing. Electricity at all sites will remain on. Nonmodern restrooms are currently closed through April 15, 2020. Modern restrooms and dump station will reopen approx. April 15, 2020(Posted 10/16/19)
  • Bird observation stations
  • Hiking trails
  • Playground
  • Boat ramp
  • Day-use lodge (1); ADA accessible
  • Picnic areas
  • Modern restrooms
  • Electric campsites (13)
  • Full-hookup campsites (8)
  • Youth group only campsites (1)
  • RV only campsites (2)
    (limited or no space for tent)
  • Firewood sales
  • Dump station