2017 – A DSMOF Year In Review

Happy New Year! Although I spent countless hours collecting data and writing informational posts for DSMOF in 2016, 2017 felt like the beginning. I am so excited for how the newsletter and Facebook page has grown, and love to hear that families are exploring new places that I’ve shared.

In 2017, I have written 78 posts and over 68,600 people have visited them. Traffic comes in about 50/50 from Google searches & Facebook.

I can see what people have clicked on (but not *who* clicked on what, don’t worry) and I thought I’d share some of the posts that were well received.

The most popular post by far was:

A list of over 30 free spraygrounds, wading pools, and fountains in Des Moines. Includes surrounding suburbs and cities like Ankeny, Urbandale, West Des Moines, Altoona, and more.

30+ Free Des Moines Metro Wading Pools, Spraygrounds, and Fountains followed by:

A list of good creeks to play in around central Iowa - the Des Moines metro area. See pictures and find out where to park and play.

14+ Creek Splashing Spots around Des Moines and then:

Greenwood/Ashworth Park, Pond, and Splashground – Des Moines, Iowa and then the page:

my DSMOF Interactive Map

and then:

Natural Playscapes in Central Iowa and lastly:

A list of the top 10 parks that are worth a 30-45 minute drive, around the Des Moines, Iowa metro. Unique playground elements, cool structures nearby, and themed parks.

Top 10 Best Parks around Des Moines, Iowa!

You can see the 9 most popular Instagram posts from the @desmoinesoutdoorfun account above!

56 people responded to my survey a few months ago – I asked some basic demographics, how outdoorsy you’d consider yourself to be, and a few other questions.

Overwhelmingly, people found DSMOF through Facebook. Yay, Facebook! It gets a bad reputation but I can’t count how many events, organizations, and places I’ve connected with and enjoyed thanks to Facebook.

Another question I asked was if readers had found any new places thanks to DSMOF and the most common answer was the Enabling Garden!

The most popular place to hike was Ledges, with Jester Park as a close second. Favorite parks were all over the place, which I can understand, there are so many wonderful ones to explore. Folks who responded were most interested in visiting playgrounds, which surprised me! We spend more time hiking, and naturally, I assume everyone is like me (ha!).

3166 of you have connected with DSMOF on Facebook, 649 on Instagram, and there are 403 newsletter subscribers (see an example of what newsletters look like and sign up, here!). Engaging with content on social media is the easiest way you can support bloggers; the more you comment or like posts, the more people see them (and the more people click, the more ads are seen, etc.).

Thinking on my own personal favorites,


We had a great time at the antler hunt hosted by Polk County Conservation, at Thomas Mitchell park. Ever since then, we’ve kept an eye on fencelines and low trees, to see if we can find antlers “in the wild”!


It was a lovely hike when we got lost at Yellow Banks Park, wandering along what I now know would be a new trail, with beautiful bridges and a “middle of the woods” feeling. We saw a ton of snakes, which is always fun.

This is my favorite urban trail, Sycamore Trail, when I hiked with my daughter alone. We saw so many critters and it just felt like we were in our own, lush jungle discovering things.

A post shared by Stephanie (@desmoinesoutdoorfun) on


I had heard lots of things about this random sunflower field at Badger Creek. It was tricky to find, and photographers weren’t keen on sharing their location, but I hunted it down and shared the details.


Last, but not least, we have had so many wonderful hikes at Pammel Park down in Winterset.

2018 Plans? I have some fun post ideas up on the docket! I’ll probably start working on them in the new year; but first I have to confess that we are actually not living in Des Moines at the moment or for the forseeable future. I still love Des Moines, and while I’m not confident that it is a permanent move yet, it is looking that way.

What does that mean for DSMOF? I am currently planning on trying to sell the business/blog in spring. I may change my mind, but if you or someone you know may be interested, please don’t hesitate to email me. It is set up to earn money (not a non-profit, as some people have assumed!) and did generate income in 2017, I’m happy to share more details with interested folks. I make money off ads, which you can see in the sidebar, sponsored posts such as the local Des Moines gift guide, and affiliate links like you’ll find in my Nature Parenting Books post and my Nature Gift Guide post.

I write and run another blog that is more established and earning me regular money, more than grocery money but not quite mortgage money, and blogging is a wonderful part-time endeavor that can lead to full-time income. What I can promise you is that DSMOF content won’t disappear! At the heart of this site has always been wanting to give people useful information so they can get outside and explore more, and there’s no way I’m letting all of that go to waste.

Do you have any outdoorsy New Year’s resolutions? I’d love to hear them and how I can help!

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