Winter is a wonderful season for outdoor fun. A winter sport is a great way to get the kids outside, shake off the winter doldrums and get the blood pumping. We’ve listed a rundown of local businesses and organizations in Des Moines that offer snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snow tubing and ice fishing, so you can pick one or two that match your kids’ skill levels and interests.
Keep in mind that 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!
Here’s where you can go Snow Shoeing, Cross-Country Skiing, Downhill Skiing, Snow Tubing and 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.
Winter Sports Offered: Cross country skiing and snowshoeing
Hours: Weekdays 10:00 am to 8:00 pm; Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; Sunday 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm
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.
If there are four or more inches of snow on the ground and a Dallas County naturalist is available, they will host a cross country skiing program. They have boots, and poles available to rent to both adults and older kids. You can call or email them to put your name on a contact list for notification of dates. You can also look for updates on their Facebook page or contact them on a Friday before a weekend that looks like it’s going to snow.
Winter Sports Offered: Cross Country Skiing
Hours: Times will vary by event.
Cost: $3.00 per person for ski rental.
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 throughout the season. If there is inclement weather, events will be cancelled. To find out more details about these programs or to register, visit their event calendar and keep an eye on their Facebook page.
Winter Sports Offered: Snowshoeing and Ice Fishing
Hours: Vary by event.
Cost: All events require registration, and most have a fee that includes equipment rental and instructions.
9981 Pacific Street • Prairie City, IA 50228 • (515) 994-3400
Take 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 ranger led hike.
Winter Sports Offered: Snowshoeing
Hours: The park is open every day from dawn to dusk. The Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and is CLOSED on Sunday December 1, 2019 to February 29, 2020.
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 at the Jester Park Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center. (Skis are rented when there is at least four inches of snow on the ground.) In addition, Polk County Conservation, hosts several winter sport events including naturalist lead snowshoe hikes and ice fishing basics. Watch their Calendar to know when events are taking place.
Winter Sports Offered: Cross country skiing, Snowshoeing and Ice Fishing.
Hours: Jester Park Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center – Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm; Sunday & Open Holidays 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm. Event times vary.
Cost: Cross country skis, boots and poles rent for $15 a day; Snowshoes rent for $10 a day.
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 19 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.
Winter Sports Offered: Downhill Skiing, Snowboarding, Snow Tubing
Hours: Weekdays 4:00 to 9:00 pm; Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm. They also have special holiday hours.
Cost: 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.)
Winter Sports Offered: Snow Tubing and Sledding
Hours: Weekdays 10:00 am to 6:00 pm; Saturday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm; Sunday 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm. They also have special holiday hours.
Cost: Tickets start at $20
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. 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.
Winter Sports Offered: Snowshoeing and Ice Fishing
Hours: Annett Nature Center – Weekdays 8:30 am to 4:00 pm; Saturday CLOSED; Sunday 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm. Event times vary.
Cost: FREE but registration is required.
What winter sports does your family love? Let us know in the Comments section below.