Getting outside this time of year doesn’t come naturally for many — it can seem far more fun to curl up with cocoa on the sofa and binge-watch movies. But children (and you;) NEED to get outside, breathe fresh air, and take in some Vitamin D. The trick is finding a fun way to work up a sweat in freezing temperatures. In the Des Moines area you can get the adrenaline going by strapping on some snowshoes or skis; or racing down a hill in a snow tube.
Downhill Ski, Snowboard and Tube in Des Moines
1086 222nd Drive • Boone, IA 50036 • (515) 432-9457
Think that there’s nowhere to downhill ski or snowboard near Des Moines? Think again! Seven Oaks Recreation Center has been operating for 18 years and has everything you need to enjoy a day on the slopes without venturing too far from home, including lessons and equipment rental. They also offer snowtubing if you’re not into skiing.
Lift Rates: $12 – $40
4051 Dean Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50317 • (515) 262-4100
If you’re looking for something to really get your adrenaline pumping, Sleepy Hollow Sports Park will add some excitement to your winter. You can race down their hills packed with manmade snow on snow tubes, Zibfy sleds and new this year Stiga Sleds. (They no longer offer skiing.)
Lift Rates: start at $22
Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing & Ice Fishing in Des Moines
4520 University Avenue #130 • West Des Moines, IA 50266 • (515) 226-9345
Active Endeavors is a local retail store that specializes in outdoor apparel and accessories. They rent out cross-country skis, boots and poles and snowshoes during the winter. They are located near Barnes and Noble.
Cost: Snowshoe rental is $15 for one day and $25 for two. Cross-Country sets are $17 for one day and $28 for two. A $100 deposit is required.
Various Locations • (515) 237-1386
Des Moines Parks and Recreation has several opportunities for you to explore the outdoors during the winter. They typically schedule several snowshoe hikes and ice fishing events. If there is inclement weather, events will be cancelled. To find out more details about these programs or to register, visit their website and keep an eye on their Facebook page.
Cost: All events require registration and most have a $5 fee that includes snowshoe rental, instructions and hot chocolate.
9981 Pacific Street • Prairie City, IA 50228 • (515) 994-3400
Bring your family and friends to The Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge and do some snowshoe hiking. Snowshoes are available for visitors to use at no cost. Hikes are typically held on Saturdays; dependent upon snowfall. Check their Facebook page or join their email list to know if there is a hike.
Cost: Snowshoe rental is FREE and both child and adult sizes are available. Registration is encouraged.
11407 NW Jester Park Drive • Granger, IA 50109 • (515) 323-5300
If you’d like to try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, consider renting a pair from the Polk County Conservation Board. They have several sets of cross-country skis, boots, and poles available for rent. The equipment is sized mainly for adults and can be reserved in advance. Equipment must be picked up and dropped off at the Jester Park Administration Office during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Skis will only be rented if there is at least four inches of snow on the ground.
Cost: Cross country skis, boots and poles rent for $10 a day.
Don’t let the winter weather keep you locked up indoors! Join Warren County Conservation to learn how easy and fun snowshoeing and ice fishing can be. Snowshoes can be checked out for FREE at the Annett Nature Center in Indianola during business hours. They have snowshoe hikes and ice fishing classes scheduled throughout the season. Classes will be cancelled if there’s not enough snow or thick ice.
Cost: FREE but registration is required.
Winter events can be finicky, if the weather is inclimate, icy or unseasonably warm, events may be cancelled. Please verify information before heading to an event!
Where is your family’s favorite outdoor winter sport to try in Des Moines?