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12 Stunning Natural Wonders In Des Moines, Iowa


by Debbie Corwin


Des Moines, Iowa, is a city brimming with natural beauty and captivating landscapes. From lush parks to serene waterways, the capital of Iowa offers a plethora of stunning natural wonders that are sure to leave visitors in awe. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, or simply seeking a tranquil escape, Des Moines has something to offer for everyone. In this article, we'll embark on a journey to explore 12 of the most breathtaking natural wonders in Des Moines, each with its own unique charm and allure. So, pack your sense of wonder and get ready to immerse yourself in the splendor of Des Moines' natural treasures.

The Des Moines River

Flowing through the heart of the city, the Des Moines River is a breathtaking natural wonder that offers a serene escape from the urban bustle. This majestic waterway provides a picturesque setting for various recreational activities, including kayaking, fishing, and riverside picnics. The river's tranquil beauty and lush surroundings make it a popular spot for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.

Gray’s Lake Park

Nestled along the shores of Gray’s Lake, this stunning park is a true gem of Des Moines. With its scenic walking trails, vibrant gardens, and peaceful atmosphere, Gray’s Lake Park provides an idyllic retreat for visitors seeking to connect with nature. The shimmering waters of the lake, framed by lush greenery, create a postcard-perfect setting for leisurely strolls and outdoor relaxation.

High Trestle Trail Bridge

Spanning the Des Moines River Valley, the High Trestle Trail Bridge is a marvel of engineering and a must-see attraction for nature enthusiasts. This iconic bridge offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a prime spot for hikers, cyclists, and photographers to marvel at the natural beauty of Des Moines. As the sun sets, the bridge comes alive with captivating LED lighting, creating a mesmerizing visual spectacle against the night sky.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Located in the heart of downtown Des Moines, the Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a captivating fusion of art and nature. This enchanting park showcases a remarkable collection of contemporary sculptures set amidst lush greenery and winding pathways. Visitors can meander through the park, admiring the striking artworks while immersing themselves in the tranquility of the natural surroundings.

Raccoon River Park

Offering a delightful blend of natural beauty and recreational amenities, Raccoon River Park is a beloved destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The park's expansive lake, fringed by scenic trails and verdant foliage, provides a picturesque backdrop for activities such as boating, fishing, and birdwatching. Whether enjoying a leisurely picnic or embarking on a nature walk, visitors can revel in the serene charm of this captivating natural oasis.

Saylorville Lake

Spanning over 6,000 acres, Saylorville Lake is a captivating reservoir that beckons visitors to immerse themselves in the splendor of Iowa's natural landscapes. The lake's pristine waters offer ample opportunities for boating, swimming, and lakeside relaxation, while its surrounding woodlands provide a haven for wildlife and outdoor exploration. Whether basking in the sun on the sandy shores or embarking on a scenic hike, Saylorville Lake promises a rejuvenating escape into nature.

Water Works Park

As one of the largest urban parks in Des Moines, Water Works Park is a verdant expanse that showcases the city's natural beauty. With its sprawling green spaces, meandering trails, and scenic riverfront views, the park invites visitors to unwind amidst the tranquility of nature. Whether engaging in outdoor activities or simply savoring a peaceful moment by the water's edge, Water Works Park offers a refreshing retreat from the urban landscape.

Walnut Woods State Park

Nestled along the banks of the Raccoon River, Walnut Woods State Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking to immerse themselves in Iowa's natural splendor. The park's lush woodlands, tranquil streams, and diverse wildlife create an enchanting backdrop for hiking, birdwatching, and nature photography. With its serene ambiance and captivating scenery, Walnut Woods State Park beckons visitors to embrace the tranquility of the great outdoors.

Des Moines Botanical Garden

A lush oasis in the heart of the city, the Des Moines Botanical Garden is a captivating sanctuary that celebrates the beauty of the natural world. The garden's diverse collection of plant species, including exotic tropical flora and native Iowa plants, offers a sensory feast for visitors. Strolling through the verdant pathways, guests can immerse themselves in the enchanting sights and scents of the botanical wonders that thrive within this urban paradise.

Easter Lake Park

Easter Lake Park stands as a serene retreat, inviting visitors to bask in the tranquility of its scenic landscapes. The glistening lake, surrounded by rolling hills and verdant woodlands, sets the stage for a host of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and wildlife observation. Whether unwinding by the water's edge or exploring the park's winding trails, guests can revel in the natural splendor that defines this captivating destination.

Union Park

Steeped in history and natural beauty, Union Park is a cherished landmark that offers a delightful escape into the outdoors. The park's picturesque lagoon, framed by towering trees and vibrant flora, creates a serene setting for leisurely walks and peaceful contemplation. With its charming bridges, vintage carousel, and tranquil ambiance, Union Park exudes a timeless allure that captivates visitors of all ages.

Ashworth Park

Nestled within a scenic woodland setting, Ashworth Park is a hidden gem that beckons visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of Iowa's natural landscapes. The park's meandering trails, lush greenery, and tranquil ponds provide an idyllic backdrop for outdoor recreation and relaxation. Whether embarking on a nature walk, enjoying a leisurely picnic, or simply savoring the serenity of the surroundings, Ashworth Park offers a peaceful retreat amidst the splendor of nature.


Des Moines, Iowa, is a treasure trove of natural wonders, offering a diverse range of breathtaking landscapes and outdoor experiences. From the majestic beauty of Ledges State Park to the tranquil allure of Gray's Lake, the city and its surrounding areas are a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. Whether you're captivated by the stunning vistas of High Trestle Trail Bridge or drawn to the serene ambiance of Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, there's no shortage of awe-inspiring destinations to explore. With its rich tapestry of natural marvels, Des Moines stands as a testament to the unparalleled beauty of the Hawkeye State.


Q: Are these natural wonders suitable for all ages?
A: Yes, the natural wonders in Des Moines cater to visitors of all ages, offering a variety of activities and experiences suitable for families, solo travelers, and nature enthusiasts.

Q: Can I visit these natural wonders year-round?
A: Most of the natural wonders in Des Moines are accessible throughout the year, with each season offering its own unique charm. However, it's advisable to check for any seasonal closures or specific visiting hours for certain attractions.