Go on a Wildflower Hunt with Your Kids in Central Iowa

Go on a Wildflower Hunt with Your Kids in Central Iowa

Spring is a great time of year to find wildflowers in Central Iowa. It’s actually shocking how easy it is to find them, even in the middle of the City. Wildflowers can be found by simply walking, or biking along trails, on a hike through a local park or by just driving slowly along a county road. Wildflower hunting can be a fun, unique spring activity for kids and is a great way to spend time outdoors as a family.

Here’s a few tips on how to make a wildflower hunt fun for the whole family:

Do a Little Research

You can make your wildflower trek more educational by doing a little research beforehand. A few on-line resources include: Iowa State University Extension’s “Iowa’s Spring Wildflowers”; Iowa Native Plant Society and Bleeding Heartland’s Wildflowers Series. When reviewing the information, look for the names of the most common wildflowers in your area and pay attention to the special characteristics that differentiate it from the others. It is very helpful to print out a few pictures, so you know what to look for once you’re out in the “field”.

Know the Laws

Before you go, read up on local and state laws regarding wildflower picking. Many wildflowers are endangered or very rare.  In Iowa’s State Parks guests are not allowed to damage vegetation, and this includes picking flowers. Instead of picking flowers, plan to take pictures or even sketch your finds.

Be Prepared

To make the most of your wildflower hunt with your kids, there are a few essentials you might want to take along. Comfy walking shoes and clothes appropriate for the weather are a must. You may also want to pack a first aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles, snacks etc.  To keep kids occupied and help them identify the flowers, it’s also a good idea to bring along a scavenger hunt, like this one from the Iowa DNR or use an app like Iowa Wildflowers (available for Android and iPhone), to search for wildflowers.

Attend a Local Event

If you’ve never looked for wildflowers before, attending a local event, might be a good first step.  Local conservation offices are hosting Wildflower Hikes this spring, including:

Wildflower Hike

Date: April 17, 2018 6:00 to 7:00 pm
Location: Zo-El Annett Woods
Enjoy a spring evening hiking through the beautiful display of spring woodland wildflowers and learn how to identify them. This park grows some beauties. Please register with Warren County Conservation by Sunday, April 15th.

Wildflower Hike

Date:  April 21, 2018 at 1:30 PM
Location: Brown’s Woods
Hike through the woods to view and identify the dazzling display of spring wildflowers. FREE. No registration required. Hosted by Polk County Conservation.

Wildflower Hike

Date: April 29, 2018 at 1:00 PM
Location: Thomas Mitchell Park, meet at pond parking lot
Hike through the woods to view and identify the dazzling display of spring wildflowers. FREE. No registration required. Hosted by Polk County Conservation.

Visit a Local Park or Trail to Hunt for Wildflowers in Central Iowa


Oralabor Gateway Trail – East Access is at Glenbrooke Park (2803 SW Glenbrooke Blvd.) in Ankeny.


Twin Creek Park/ Gay Lea Wilson Trail –  Trailhead is near the Greater Altoona Community Service Campus.


Greenbelt Park/Greenbelt Trail – 10490 Maddox Parkway, Clive

Des Moines

Fort Des Moines Park – 7200 SE 5th Street, Des Moines

Grimes/Dallas Center

Wagner Prairie – The third drive west of the junction of Hwy 44 (240th St.) and Rte. 169 on the south side of the road.


Summerset Trail – N. Fifth Street north of E. Clinton Avenue, Indianola


Beavercreek Natural Resources Area – Accessed through Crown Point, Terra Park and Creekside Park trails.

Pleasant Hill

Yellow Banks Park – 6801 SE 32nd Avenue, Pleasant Hill


Walnut Creek Regional Park – 153rd Street and Horton Avenue, Urbandale


Raccoon River Valley Trail – Junction of Highway 6 & County Road R22

West Des Moines

Wild Rose Park – 6801 Cody Drive, West Des Moines

Windsor Heights

Walnut Creek Trail – Access at Colby Park/ 69th & School Streets, Windsor Heights

What are you waiting for? Strap on your sneakers, load up the kids and drive to your favorite park or trail!  And, be sure to share your adventures with us!

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