Guide to Winter Fun in Des Moines

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guide to winter in des moinesLiving in Iowa, we can’t escape winter. The months of January, February, and even March can drag on, feeling like an endless repeat of cold, dreary days. Why not embrace the season this year? Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean you can’t still get outside and explore or try something new!

This year especially, we’re motivated to spend more time outside. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered! Let this guide to ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snow tubing and more in Des Moines and Central Iowa help you find fun things to do in Des Moines this winter. 

Here’s where you can go ice skating this winter in the Des Moines area:

Most locations are open from December through March depending on the weather. 

Outdoor Ice Skating in Des Moines

Ankeny Parks & Recreation Outdoor Ice Rink

Where: Sunrise Park, 506 SE Peterson Dr, Ankeny
Watch for the green flag for safe skating conditions.

Hours: Hockey skating dawn to noon; open skating noon to dusk

Admission: FREE. Bring your own skates

Brenton Skating Plaza

Where: 520 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines
Closed for the season.

Des Moines Parks and Recreation – Neighborhood Park Ponds

Where: Greenwood Park Pond: 45th and Grand Ave, Des Moines

MacRae Park Pond: SW 9th and Davis Ave, Des Moines

Witmer Park Pond: 610 34th St, Des Moines

Hours: normal park hours – sunrise to sunset. 
Check online to be sure locations are open. They use a flag system to indicate availability of public skating.

Admission: FREE

Indianola Parks & Recreation Outdoor Ice Rink

Where: Soccer fields south of the Indianola Middle School • 403 S. 15th St, Indianola

Hours: hockey from dawn to noon; open skating noon to dusk. 

A green sign will be posted at the gate to indicate that the rink is open; a red sign will be posted when the rink is closed. 

Admission: FREE. Bring your own skates

Johnston Parks and Recreation Outdoor Ice Rink

Where: Johnston Commons, 6169 Northglenn Dr, Johnston and Crosshaven Park, 7909 NW 95th St, Johnston

Hours: hockey from dawn to noon; open skating noon to dusk

Admission: FREE. Bring your own skates

Urbandale Parks & Recreation Outdoor Ice Rink

Where: Lions Park, 72nd St and Aurora Ave, Urbandale

Admission: FREE. Bring your own skates

Valley Community Center 

Where: 4444 Fuller Road, West Des Moines

Hours: dawn to dusk

Admission: FREE. Bring your own skates

Waukee Parks & Recreation Outdoor Ice Rink

Where: Centennial Park, 1255 Warrior Ln, Waukee

Hours: Hockey dawn to noon; open skating noon to dusk

Admission: FREE. Bring your own skates.

West Des Moines Parks & Recreation Outdoor Ice Rink

Where: Raccoon River Park, 2500 Grand Ave, West Des Moines

Hours: dawn to dusk

Admission: FREE. Bring your own skates

Where to rent winter gear in Des Moines: 

Active Endeavors

Where: 4520 University Avenue #130, West Des Moines

Rent cross-country skis, boots and poles and snowshoes during the winter.

REI

Where: 5901 Mills Civic Pkwy Ste 401, West Des Moines

Scheels

101 Jordan Creek Pkwy, West Des Moines

Here’s where you can go Snow Shoeing, Cross-Country Skiing, Downhill Skiing, and Snow Tubing near Des Moines

Dallas County Conservation

Where: Voas Nature Center 19286 Lexington Road, Minburn

What: Cross-country skiing when there are four or more inches of snow and staff is available. They have shoes, skis and poles, mostly for ages 10 and up (with a very limited number of sets for younger skiers) available to rent. 

When: Check their Facebook page for ski days and times 

Cost: $3 per person for ski rental.

Des Moines Parks & Recreation

Various Locations

Explore the outdoors with Des Moines Parks & Rec this winter. They typically schedule several snowshoe hikes and ice fishing events throughout the season. If there is inclement weather or a COVID spike, events may be canceled or rescheduled. Check out their event calendar and follow their Facebook page for “Pop Up Programs”. Anyone under 12 years old will need to have a guardian present.

What: Snowshoeing and ice fishing

Hours: Vary by event

Cost: All events require registration, and most have a fee that includes equipment rental and instructions.

Polk County Conservation

Where: 11407 NW Jester Park Dr, Granger

The Jester Park Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center is currently closed but is renting snowshoes and cross-country skis when there is at least 6 inches of snow on the ground. Equipment can be rented from the Center seven days per week for a full day or half-day when conditions are right. 

What: Cross country skiing and Snowshoeing

Hours:  Monday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

Cost: Cross country skis, boots and poles rent for $15 a day; Snowshoes rent for $10 a day.

Seven Oaks Recreation Center

Where: 1086 222nd Dr, Boone

Des Moines may not have mountains, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ski here. Hit the slopes at Seven Oaks Recreation Center in Boone. They also offer lessons and equipment rental as well as snow tubing.  

In 2021 face coverings are REQUIRED: indoors, in line, and while riding a chairlift, rope tow, or snow tubing and anytime physical distancing cannot be achieved outdoors. Find all their COVID-19 Guidelines here.

What: Downhill Skiing, Snowboarding, Snow Tubing

Hours: Weekdays 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Cost: Lift Rates $12 – $40

Sleepy Hollow

Closed for the season due to COVID.

Warren County Conservation Board

Various Locations 

What: Snowshoeing. They have snowshoe hikes scheduled in January and February. Classes will be canceled if there’s not enough snow.

Hours: Event times vary.

Cost: FREE but registration is required.

We work hard to ensure the accuracy of this information. However, as COVID guidelines are changing week to week, you should always call ahead to confirm dates, times, location, and other information before heading to an event or activity, since it may change.

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Andrea is a Jesus-following, coffee-drinking, book-loving single mom to 3 amazing kids. She is a work at home mom who spends her days reading books about trucks and trains and building forts out of couch cushions with 4-year-old Emerson and 2-year-old Foster while shielding baby sister Harlow from flying toys. You can find her in coffee shops around Des Moines drinking lattes and typing away on her laptop.

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