Park Visit: Ashby Park

Ashby Park, Des Moines, Iowa

The last time I went to Ashby Park, I was 8 months pregnant and my son was 2. We visited in the heat of summer and the wading pool has some really nice shady spots… that I totally did not get to enjoy because I spent the entire time waddling after him and intercepting his water toy thefts. This park is super popular but it took me almost 2 years to come back after that experience!

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

Ashby Park and Wading Pool- Des Moines, Iowa


I came with just my daughter, who immediately wanted to watch the folks playing tennis up on the courts.


I appreciate that this park has off-street parking; you can see the baseball/softball backstop thing back in the corner there.


There are several rain gardens, which could be cool if you or your kid have any interest in environmentally friendly gardening and all that.


There is a toddler-sized playground with some baby sings and a bouncy elephant to ride.


There is a nice shaded shelter behind the toddler playground, with a drinking fountain, bathrooms, and picnic tables. That tree right in front was shedding the prettiest leaves, I snagged some for a Fall craft!


The larger playground has lots of slides in addition to baby swings and regular swings.


The wading pool is tucked back, with natural shade from the trees and shaded tables. When the water’s running, there are fountain sprayers in the middle as well.


My daughter was pretty happy climbing around but I decided I wanted to poke around and find the nature trail that I’d read about on the Des Moines Parks website, and listed on the main park post here on DSMOF. It isn’t super clearly marked, but where we went was right off behind the shaded shelter. There was a clear path straight back and then off to the right, facing away from the park, and both of them had bridges.


Bridges are so much fun to run across! I don’t think I’ve run across another cute little cement bridge like this, I love the shape.


We went back across the bridge and walked the other fork, which led to another bridge. Right over it, there was a fallen tree but we spotted a cute little picnic table tucked into the woods (arrow shown above). It looks like the path kept going past that, but we ran out of time. I’d love to hear if you’ve followed it!


Walking back up towards the playground, you come across a ton of open green space, which I have really come to appreciate in a park. It wasn’t the right weather for flying a kite and running around, but it’s easy to picture a soccer game or some tag in this spot!

I’m glad that we had some fun and my Ashby Park impression has become more positive – I’ll plan on a return trip to try the wading pool again next summer. Another thing I didn’t get a picture of but that my daughter really enjoyed was some of the tree stumps spread along the edge of the woods.

Have you been to Ashby? Did I miss anything fun?

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