Walnut Woods State Park is 260-acre camping park in Wes Des Moines, Iowa. Surrounded by black walnut woodlands and the Raccoon River, the park and its shady campground are perfect for outdoor recreation. Campers can enjoy fishing, hiking, river floating, or simply relaxing at this state park.
Set within the Walnut Woods, home to the largest surviving natural stand of black walnut trees in North America, the campground is filled with all sorts of wildlife and over 90 species of birds, including migrating warblers, flycatchers and a variety of songbirds. Spend your days hiking the three miles of trails leading along the riverbed, and enjoying cross-country skiing during the winter season. The fun lasts all year long!
Both standard campers and RV campers are accommodated in the campground at Walnut Woods State Park. There are standard tent-only sites, limited RV-only sites, as well as a good mix of both. Facilities include a kids’ playground, modern restrooms, and a dump station. As the park is popular in the summer months, we’d suggest reserving your campsite ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
RV Rentals in Walnut Woods State Park
Transportation in Walnut Woods State Park
Walnut Woods State Park is located off Iowa Highway 5. Take exit 102 and follow the signs to the entrance of the park. The access roads have been repaved so they are smooth and offer a comfortable ride.
The roads are tricky to navigate for big rigs and if you do have trouble, there is a loop at the boat ramp for turning around if you need it. There is also a parking area here.
Once you’ve set up camp, there are nearly three miles of trails to explore by foot or by bike. A boat ramp means you can also explore the park from the river.
Campgrounds and parking in Walnut Woods State Park
Campsites in Walnut Woods State Park
Des Moines West KOA
There’s nothing like the relaxing nature of Iowa with a bit of hometown charm, local culture, and gorgeous panoramic views. The Des Moines West KOA offers several fun activities like a Jumping Pillow, trampoline basketball, paddle boating, and cart rentals for exploring the area. During your stay, visit the sculpture park, the Bridges of Madison County, several living history farms, or even the birthplace of John Wayne. With sites for RV’s up to 75 feet, 50-amp electrical service, Wi-Fi, cable TV, and a pool, there a plenty of amenities that make for a relaxing stay at the Des Moines West KOA.
The family campground at Walnut Woods State Park offers nine standard full hookup sites (with electricity, water and sewerage hookups), 11 standard electric sites, two RV only sites, and one youth group only site. Each campsite is set on a concrete pad and has a picnic table and fire pit. Campers have access to water hydrants, a modern restroom and a sanitary dump station. There are no shower facilities.
Other facilities in the park include a boat ramp, children’s playground, and picnic areas for day visitors with fire pits and tables. The picnic tables are scattered throughout the park, and along the main section of road. Firewood is available for purchase.
While the website claims to have campsites for big rigs up to 70 feet in length, past campers have advised that the park is not big rig friendly. Most of the campsites can be reserved online in advance, but a quarter of them are available on a first come, first served basis only. The campground is pet-friendly.
Seasonal activities in Walnut Woods State Park
Walnut Woods State Park is located right along the Raccoon River which offers excellent fishing opportunities. Anglers can fish for a variety of fresh water fish, from smallmouth bass, carp and channel catfish, to sunfish, largemouth bass and walleye from the river banks. Alternatively, you can launch your fishing boat at the boat ramp located on the western side of the park.
There are three miles of trails to explore at Walnut Woods State Park. Whether you’re visiting for the day or staying overnight at the RV campground, you can enjoy the trails that meander along the Raccoon River for lazy scenic strolls. There is also an equestrian trail in the park for those interested in horse riding.
Walnut Woods State Park is a popular spot for water recreation. Set on the Raccoon River, campers can enjoy swimming, fishing, canoeing, floating, and more on the river – depending on the water level. You can also launch your boat from the boat ramp found on the western side of the park. Fishing is popular both from the bank and by boat.
There are nearly three miles of trails at Walnut Woods State Park for you to explore during the winter months. This time of the year is the off season and there are fewer crowds which allows for peaceful snowshoe walks and better wildlife and bird watching. Whether you’re visiting for the day or staying overnight at the RV campsite, you can explore the trails that travel along the Raccoon River or make use of the equestrian trail.
Two and a half miles of trails in Walnut Woods State Park are groomed and transformed into winter trails for snow sports, such as cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, and snowmobiling, in the off season. Plus, the Great Western multi-purpose trail can be found three miles away from the park and links Des Moines to Martensdale along a 16.5-mile long trail.
Campers can enjoy bird watching at Walnut Woods State Park all year round, however its the off season months during spring and fall that are particularly worthwhile. You’ll be able to spot more than 90 species of birds, including a variety of migrating birds, such as warblers, flycatchers, as well as songbirds, hawks and owls. There is a bird observation area as well as a bird feeding station to the west of the park office.