You cannot wish the snow away, so why not embrace it! Snowshoeing (and Cross Country Skiing) in Des Moines, Iowa can be a fun way to exercise and explore without getting your socks full of ice. There are several places to rent kids and adult snowshoes, cross country skis, ski poles, and other winter gear. If you already own all the appropriate winter gear, there are plenty of trails to enjoy outdoors in Des Moines. Be sure to call ahead and reserve your snowshoes and/or other winter gear ahead of time. Each facility has different rules but generally speaking, you need at least 4 inches of snow on the ground to snowshoe safely.
Snowshoeing, sledding, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and any other fun outdoor activities are great ways to stay physically and keep your mental health in check during the winter months. Bundle up (wear layers and warm boots!), have fun, and grab some hot chocolate afterward.
Active Endeavors located in West Des Moines offers snowshoe rental. For 1-Day rental is $15/set and for a 2-Day rental, it is $25/set. There is an authorized $100 deposit/set. Make sure you contact Active Endeavors beforehand to confirm availability.
Snowshoe in the Des Moines Union Park or Birdland park area and rent your snowshoes at Captain Roy’s. $5 flat fee per day. Snowshoes must be returned before close each day.
Dallas County Conservation
Rent your winter gear including snowshoes, skis, and poles, mostly for ages 10 and up. There are limited amounts for younger ages. All gear can be rented and picked up at Voas Nature Center. Take a look at their Facebook page for updated information.
Des Moines Parks & Recreation
Each winter the Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department offers snowshoe rentals to the public. Each winter they can be reserved online and picked up at the Parks and Recreation Offices located at 1551 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Pkwy in the city of Des Moines. In addition, the Des Moines Parks & Recreations offers regular programming such as ‘After School Snowshoe Hike’ at Greenwood Park or enjoy a full moon winter evening at the ‘Full Moon Snowshoe Hike’ in Des Moines. Keep eyes on their event calendar and programming for registration and details.
Erik’s located in West Des Moines, Iowa sells a variety of snowshoes. Take a look at what is available on their website.
Jax Mercantile located in Ames, Iowa offers adult snowshoes for $15 and kid snowshoes for $5. Poles are an additional $3. Please make sure to contact them beforehand to check availability.
Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
Located in Prairie City. They offer FREE, rental in the main building, the Prairie Learning Center. Please contact and double-check what is available before visiting.
Polk County Conservation
The Polk County of Conservation offers snowshoe rental for $10 per half day. It is recommended to call (515)-323-5330 ahead of time to rent. You can pick them up at the Jester Park Outdoor Recreation Center next door to the Jester Park Nature Center. If you are looking for snowshoe trails, Polk County Conservation recommends the following best trails:
- Brown’s Woods: Front and back loop
- Yellow Banks Park: Savanna Trail
- Easter Lake Park: Wymore Trail
- Fort Des Moines Park: Nature Trail (trail starts off the SW corner of the dam)
- Jester Park: Hickory Ridge Trail
NOTE: Avoid snowshoeing are on groomed cross-country ski trails found at Jester Park, Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, and golf courses.
Polk County Conservation offers cross-country skis rental for $15 per half day. They also offer several groomed cross-country ski trails. Take a look at all the specifics on their website.
Keep track of the Polk County Conservation event calendar where they offer various outdoor workshops and events including snowshoe hikes, general instructions, and more.
Scheels located in West Des Moines offers a huge selection of winter gear including snowshoes, cross country skis, poles, and more for purchase. Their staff is super helpful as well! If you are a snowshoe beginner, take a look at all the fun I had with the Scheels staff in partnership with the Great Outdoors Foundation, learning about snowshoeing this winter.
Warren County Conservation
Warren County Conservation offers several areas to enjoy the winter weather in snowshoes. When there is enough snow, take a look at the Warren County Conservation parks available to snowshoe:
- Annett Nature Center and Park
- Bank Swallow Bend
- Great Western Trail
- Hickory Hills Park
- Summerset Trail
Take a look at the Warren County Conservation event calendar and programming to keep tabs on guided snowshoe hikes and more.