Park Visit: Southwoods Park in West Des Moines, Iowa

As anyone who reads can guess, I love exploring new places. We rarely go to the same place twice in a season, let alone a month, but we’ve been to Southwoods Park in West Des Moines three times in the past two months! I had never heard of it but was intrigued by the description on its official website. We went looking for the waterfall (spoiler alert, it’s in the picture above and it is tiny) but fell in love with the trails!

You can see more specific details on the Southwoods Park page below or check out its location on the interactive map.

Southwoods Park – West Des Moines, Iowa



It’s right across from the West Des Moines library and has a large parking lot.


You initially follow a paved trail that goes past a disc golf course and makes a small loop around prairie vegetation and surrounded by trees. (You can find my son’s coveralls/rain suit linked on this page, we love it!)


Along the loop, you’ll spy this rock, announcing the Rothchild nature trail. Right next to it is a dirt trail with a few benches and a trash can.


The trail initially goes down several wooden steps and then runs alongside Jordan Creek.


There’s the waterfall! To be fair, it does sound pretty, burbling away. The waterfall at Greenbelt Park is bigger if that interests you.


It is a perfect place for creek splashing – nice and shallow with lots of sandbanks and eddies. I led a Hike It Baby hike down here a few weeks ago and brought cups for everyone to dig in the sand, but this time we stuck with the sticks and rocks that were already there.


I love spotting animal tracks!


The path backs up to the paved trail; I just love that it feels like you’re completely swallowed up by the trees.


The fall colors were just starting to peek out a week ago – I bet it’s even prettier now! This is such a hidden gem on the west side – I think it would be a great spot to take a kid learning to ride a bike, with its small paved loop.

Have you been here? What did you think?

2 thoughts on “Park Visit: Southwoods Park in West Des Moines, Iowa

  1. Jennifer Benson says:

    I just visited this park today, based on your recommendation. The wildflowers were absolutely beautiful. We didn’t do the dirt trail today because we hadn’t put on bug spray and the path was looking pretty overgrown, so I’d like to come back with pants. About how far does the dirt trail go? Does it end at the creek? Thanks for the great resources on this site!


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