Best Fall Foliage Spots with Kids in Central Iowa -

Best Fall Foliage Spots with Kids in Central Iowa

The leaves are about ready to reveal their fabulous fall colors!  Kids love jumping in a pile of leaves and parents love gazing at the beautiful trees.  Here are a few spots in Central Iowa where you can do both!

Iowa’s Fall Colors

According to the Iowa DNR, there are three zones of when leaves will start to change in Iowa.  Please keep in mind that these are guidelines, as specific dates that the leaves will start changing, depend on a variety of factors.

  • Northern Iowa (Northern three tiers of counties, north of Sioux City, Fort Dodge, Waterloo and Dubuque) – Last of September to second week of October
  • Central Iowa (Middle three tiers of counties, primarily north of I-80) – First through third weeks of October
  • Southern Iowa (Southern three tiers of counties, primarily south of I-80) – Second through fourth weeks of October

For a weekly update of Iowa’s fall color changes visit Iowa DNR’s Fall Color page.

Places to enjoy Fall Foliage in Central Iowa

Brown’s Woods

Where: Brown’s Woods Drive (West of SW 63rd St.), West Des Moines
Amenities: Brown’s Woods, Iowa’s largest urban forest preserve, offers more than two miles of trails to explore. This 484-acre forest features a canopy of oak and hickory trees stretching from Brown’s Woods Drive to the Raccoon River.
Why we Love Brown’s Woods in the Fall: Acres of wooded nature trails with rolling hills and streams make wonderful photo ops and great leaf watching!

Haines Park

Where: Altoona
Amenities: Haines Park features a playground, shelter, basketball court and a sand area. There are benches for sitting and a nice size open grass area for playing sports.
Why we Love Haines Park in the Fall: The large fields at Haines Park are perfect for football, tag, and other fall fun, but the beauty lies in the many trees spread throughout the park, which make an amazing autumn backdrop.

Hanging Rock

Where: 916 Redfield Street, Redfield
Amenities: The Hanging Rock area is comprised of 469 acres and is located along the Raccoon River, featuring a massive outcrop of sandstone. The north half of the park is a refuge and is developed as a park with a picnic shelter, astronomical rock clock and a spur of the Raccoon River Valley Trail.
Why we Love Hanging Rock in the Fall: Hanging Rock is ideal for leaf watching and scavenger hunts! If you have a canoe or kayak you can float through the park on the Middle Raccoon River Water Trail, and enjoy a scenic and leisurely view of the park’s beautiful fall colors.

Otter Creek Park

Where: 14400 Quebec Street, Indianola, IA 50125
Amenities: Otter Creek’s shady picnic area, winding trails, secluded campsites, prairie restoration area, and small pond offer a pleasant variety of recreational and educational opportunities.
Why we Love Otter Creek Park in the Fall: The trails are wonderful for a fall walk, but one of the best features of the park is it’s small pond that kids love exploring.  This small park makes an ideal spot for an autumn afternoon family picnic.

Sargent Park

Where: 3530 East Douglas Avenue, Des Moines
Amenities: Sargent Park is home to Des Moines’ first natural playscape.  It also has picnic tables, a recreation trail and restrooms.
Why we Love Sargent Park in the Fall:  For young children, the natural playscape at Sargent park is a big treat! This is a great place to spend a fall day as a family hiking, and exploring.



Where does your family enjoy viewing fall foliage in Central Iowa?  Let us know in the Comments below. 

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