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Fort Des Moines Park

Boating Boating at Fort Des Moines Park

A boat ramp is available for electric motor boats.


Canoeing & Kayaking Canoeing & Kayaking at Fort Des Moines Park
This 14 acre pond is great for canoeing and kayaking.
Education Education at Fort Des Moines Park

A 1.5 acre native Iowa tree arboretum enhances park aesthetics and education opportunities. This self-guided nature activity has tree markers which offer easy identification. The arboretum contains 44 trees well suited for planting in central Iowa. An outdoor classroom is located near shelter #3.

Polk County Conservation naturalists offer nature programs at Fort Des Moines Park. To request a Nature News to learn about upcoming programs at Fort Des Moines and other parks in Polk County send an email to pccb_info@polkcountyiowa.gov and put ADD TO MAILING LIST in the reference line.

Facility Rentals Facility Rentals at Fort Des Moines Park
Three picnic shelters are available by reservation or on a first-come basis. Shelter #1 is located near the lake and shares a parking lot with the boat ramp. Shelter #2 has a volleyball court and is located near a playground. Shelter #3 is near the outdoor classroom and has a fireplace inside the open-air shelter. Reservations can be made using this website by clicking on the MAKE RESERVATIONS tab above.
Experience historic Fort Des Moines Park in full fall swing.
Fishing Fishing at Fort Des Moines Park
This 14 acres pond was constructed in 1976.
Maximum depth: 30 feet
Average depth: 15 feet
For more information on fishing and pond contour map, please visit our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or by clicking on the following link: FISHING INFORMATION

Geocaching Geocaching at Fort Des Moines Park

Geocaching has become a very popular activity for individuals and families to participate in. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is to leave an item if they decide to take something from the cache. Visit geocaching.com for more details.

Polk County Conservation permits geocaching in keeping with its mission to provide opportunities for safe recreational activities. Geocachers are welcome to place a cache in PCC lands as long as they comply with the requirements of the geocache permit.

Historic Visits Historic Visits at Fort Des Moines Park
Fort Des Moines Park was originally part of “Fort Des Moines,” established on 640 acres of land four miles south of downtown Des Moines in 1903. This area was a cavalry post, an officer training camp, Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) training center, US Army Reserve Center, and landfill site until the 1960’s. In the late 1960’s, Lady Bird Johnson promoted the Legacy of Parks program by giving federal property to local governments for parks. Polk County Conservation Board acquired Fort Des Moines Park through this program in October, 1972.
Other Activities Other Activities at Fort Des Moines Park
An accessible playground lies adjacent to Shelter #2
Picnicking Picnicking at Fort Des Moines Park
Three picnic shelters are available by reservation or on a first-come basis. Picnic tables with grills are scattered throughout the park.
Trails & Hiking Trails & Hiking at Fort Des Moines Park
Listen for chattering chipmunks, scolding blue jays, and whispering wind along the 0.7 mile wooded nature trail. This nature trail winds through a tapestry of sunlight, shadows, and greenery. You can access the trail by parking at shelter #1 and hiking across the dam. For trail and park information please visit our website at www.leadingyououtdoors.org or click on the following link: PARKS AND TRAILS

Lakeside Trail
Length: 1.1 miles


Savanna Loop Trail
Length: 0.7 miles


Prairie Trail
Length: 0.5 miles