Natural Playscapes in Central Iowa

natural playscapes des moines iowa central iowa area

My kids love parks, but I think they love natural playscapes even more. With natural “loose parts” like stumps, rocks, and sticks, kids can go crazy building different structures. Climbing logs and rocks never gets old and it’s nice to find those options without driving too far into the wildnerness. We have found four natural playscapes in (and around) Des Moines, Iowa – I would say that Jester & Brenton have the most impressive natural playgrounds but McHenry and Sargent are super fun to visit and worth the drive with their additional, conventional playground features. You can click through to each page for the nitty gritty details like address and bathrooms, with my notes on each playscape below their titles. They are all free, with the exception of the one at Blank Park Zoo.

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Jester Park – Granger, Iowa

jester park granger iowa

Jester Park is a hugely popular park, with lots of options. The natural playscape sits alongside a bison and elk herd, several campgrounds flank miles of wooded trails. Discovery Pond is a beautiful spot to explore, and there is regular nature programming held throughout the park. They are currently building an indoor nature center in the middle of the park, but the detour signs are clearly marked in order to acces both sides of the park. There is easy creek splashing access here, you can see more specific details about how to get into the water in this post.

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