Places to Camp near Des Moines, IA

Camping near Des Moines, Iowa

Camping near Des Moines, Iowa, offers a diverse range of experiences for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you're looking for a serene lakeside retreat, a family-friendly campground, or a spot with modern amenities, the campgrounds around Des Moines have something for everyone. From the scenic views at Jester County Park to the well-maintained facilities at Des Moines West KOA Holiday, you'll find plenty of options to suit your camping style.

In this guide, we'll explore what makes camping near Des Moines special, what activities you can enjoy, and what other campers have to say about their experiences. We'll also provide some helpful tips for families and RVers to make the most of their camping trips.

What to do

Camping near Des Moines offers a variety of activities to keep you entertained. Whether you enjoy hiking, fishing, or simply relaxing by the campfire, there's something for everyone.

At Jester County Park, you can enjoy hiking trails, an equestrian center, and even a golf course. One camper, Jay M., mentioned, "CG has a kids playground, hiking trails, Equestrian Center, golf course and nature center. Plenty to do with the city of Ankeny just 15 minutes away." Read more.

For those who love water activities, Bob Shelter Recreation Area & Campground offers fishing and boating opportunities. Corey P. shared, "Clean, level sites, close to fishing, it was fun watching the water come through the dam." Read more.

If you're looking for a place with a bit of everything, Prairie Flower Recreation Area is a great choice. Lee D. noted, "There is something for everyone here and a great campground for families: hiking trails, a sandy beach with a swimming area, and a nice playground." Read more.

What campers like

Campers appreciate the variety of amenities and the friendly atmosphere at the campgrounds near Des Moines. Many campgrounds offer clean facilities, spacious sites, and helpful staff.

At Des Moines West KOA Holiday, campers love the modern amenities and friendly staff. Tom M. said, "Staff is one of the nicest and most helpful we've ever encountered." Read more.

Timberline Campground is another favorite, with Russell T. mentioning, "Timberline is among my favorite campgrounds, always has great people, nice shade trees, fun pool, and quality facilities." Read more.

Campers also appreciate the peaceful and scenic environment at Cherry Glen Campground. Lisa H. shared, "This campground is big and clean. It’s pretty peaceful & quiet." Read more.

What you should know

While camping near Des Moines offers many positives, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a smooth experience.

Some campgrounds, like Bob Shelter Recreation Area & Campground, have outdated facilities. Stephanie S. noted, "The bathroom/shower house was outdated, old and dark, and small." Read more.

At Walnut Woods State Park Campground, the sites can be small and close together. Stephanie S. mentioned, "Ours was smallest which didn’t allow for a lot of room to avoid muddy areas of grass even with our tiny camper." Read more.

It's also important to note that some campgrounds, like Lake Ahquabi State Park Campground, may have seasonal closures. Marilee S. pointed out, "The web link from Dyrt is out of date, and thus park is closed for 2022." Read more.

Tips for camping with families

Camping with families near Des Moines can be a fun and memorable experience. Many campgrounds offer family-friendly amenities and activities to keep everyone entertained.

At Prairie Flower Recreation Area, families can enjoy a sandy beach, swimming area, and playground. Chelsea G. shared, "The whole park was the cleanest we have seen anywhere else. We will absolutely be back!" Read more.

Thomas Mitchell County Park offers a peaceful environment with a creek for kids to play in. Shannon G. mentioned, "The outer loop has a creek that flows behind the sites with large stairs to get down to it. Kids were having a blast in the water." Read more.

For a campground with modern amenities and a friendly atmosphere, Des Moines West KOA Holiday is a great choice. Renee H. noted, "Large modern KOA with sites to accommodate all sizes of rigs and also tent campers. Bathhouses were clean and private. Laundry available." Read more.

Tips from RVers

RVers will find plenty of options for camping near Des Moines, with many campgrounds offering full hookups and spacious sites.

At Timberline Campground, RVers appreciate the full-hookup sites and beautiful surroundings. GP shared, "This is a huge property but laid out in different sections that each have their own flavor. The pull-throughs near the front are level, gravel pads with grass all around." Read more.

Des Moines West KOA Holiday is another popular choice for RVers, with Les W. mentioning, "From the site service firewood and food delivery, to the location and people who stopped here in their travels. I will definitely stay at a KOA again!" Read more.

For those looking for a peaceful and scenic spot, Cherry Glen Campground offers spacious sites with views of Saylorville Lake. Dylan noted, "Above average overall for central Iowa. Views of Saylorville Lake. Plenty of shade. Clean restrooms." Read more.

Camping near Des Moines, Iowa, offers a variety of experiences for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you're camping with family, in an RV, or just looking for a peaceful retreat, the campgrounds around Des Moines have something to offer. With clean facilities, friendly staff, and plenty of activities, you're sure to have a memorable camping trip.

Best Camping Sites Near Des Moines, IA (101)

    Camper-submitted photo from Jester County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jester County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jester County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jester County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jester County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jester County Park

    1.

    Jester County Park

    27 Reviews
    45 Photos
    96 Saves
    Granger, Iowa

    Welcome to Jester County Park, a gem for campers looking for a mix of relaxation and adventure. This place has got it all, from hot showers to electric hookups, making it a comfortable spot for both tent and RV campers. You can even bring your pets along, and yes, you can enjoy a cold beer by the campfire since alcohol is allowed.

    The park is packed with activities to keep everyone entertained. There are hiking trails, a large playground for the kids, and even an equestrian center if you're into horseback riding. For those who love a bit of sport, there's a golf course and an archery range. In the winter, you can try your hand at snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. And if you're into wildlife, the nature center with bison and elk is a must-see.

    Located near Granger, IA, Jester County Park is just a short drive from the city of Ankeny, making it convenient for a quick getaway. The campground itself is nestled on the north end of Saylorville Reservoir, offering some beautiful views and a peaceful atmosphere. Some sites are shaded by numerous trees, providing a cool retreat during the hot summer months.

    Visitors have praised the park for its clean facilities and friendly atmosphere. The sites are spacious, with picnic tables and fire rings, and there's even a market on-site for any last-minute supplies. Whether you're here for a weekend or a couple of weeks, Jester County Park offers a fantastic camping experience with plenty to see and do.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • RVs

    $20 - $25 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Yellow Banks County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Yellow Banks County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Yellow Banks County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Yellow Banks County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Yellow Banks County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Yellow Banks County Park

    2.

    Yellow Banks County Park

    14 Reviews
    36 Photos
    92 Saves
    Pleasant Hill, Iowa

    Welcome to Yellow Banks County Park, nestled near Des Moines, IA. This spot is a favorite among campers for its spacious sites and friendly atmosphere. Whether you're pitching a tent or parking an RV, you'll find plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the great outdoors.

    One of the standout features here is the warm showers—perfect after a day of exploring. The campground also offers electric hookups, making it a convenient choice for RV travelers. Pets are welcome, so feel free to bring your furry friends along for the adventure.

    Fishing enthusiasts will appreciate the access to the Des Moines River and a nearby pond, which is home to bluegill and largemouth bass. If you're into hiking, the park boasts some wonderful trails that wind through the scenic landscape. And for those who enjoy a good campfire, firewood is available on-site.

    Visitors have praised the cleanliness of the campground and the friendliness of the camp hosts. The sites are either paved or gravel, making them accessible even for motorcycles. Plus, the proximity to the state fairgrounds is a bonus if you're planning to visit during fair season.

    Overall, Yellow Banks County Park offers a relaxing and enjoyable camping experience with plenty of amenities to make your stay comfortable. Whether you're here for the fishing, hiking, or just to unwind, this park has something for everyone.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    Camper-submitted photo from Ledges State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Ledges State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Ledges State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Ledges State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Ledges State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Ledges State Park Campground

    3.

    Ledges State Park Campground

    39 Reviews
    57 Photos
    192 Saves
    Boone, Iowa

    Millions of years before the plains of Iowa were inhabited by the Sauk, Fox and Sioux peoples, much of the American Midwest was covered by a shallow inland sea. It was at this time that the area’s sandstone deposits began forming. Fast-forward to just 13,000 years ago, with the inland sea now long gone, Ice Age glacial meltwater raced across the dry plains, carving and scouring channels and canyons into the sandstone terrain. One of these canyons can be found in Iowa’s Ledges State Park. This 1,000-acre nature preserve and recreation area is located on a wide bend on the Des Moines River, and is just 40 miles north of the city of Des Moines. The park is subject to frequent flooding when the river breaches its banks, but is otherwise a popular year-round outdoor recreation destination. Visitors to Ledges can enjoy a variety of hiking, fishing and paddling opportunities, as well as explore a prehistoric river canyon that showcases nature’s ability to sculpt the landscape.

    The campground at Ledges State Park features 94 tent and RV sites situated among deciduous woods not far from the Des Moines River. Campers can choose from full-hookup, partial-hookup, or primitive tent sites. Most sites are back-in; only a few are pull-through for larger vehicles. Tent sites are located in both in the main camp area, and in a secluded walk-in area. There is also a youth group site. All sites are equipped with picnic tables, fire pits and cooking grills, and all have access to water faucets, flush restrooms, showers, and trash receptacles; a dump station is located near the campground entrance. The campground also features a kids’ playground, outdoor amphitheater, and is within walking distance of trails and picnic areas. Some roads and/or facilities may not be open or available in the winter. Reservations are accepted, however the park saves about half of the sites for first-come, first-served campers; sites are $11–$19/night.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access

    $12 - $18 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Bob Shelter Recreation Area & Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Bob Shelter Recreation Area & Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Bob Shelter Recreation Area & Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Bob Shelter Recreation Area & Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Bob Shelter Recreation Area & Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Bob Shelter Recreation Area & Campground

    4.

    Bob Shelter Recreation Area & Campground

    15 Reviews
    71 Photos
    49 Saves
    Johnston, Iowa

    Overview

    Bob Shetler Recreation Area is located in the tailwater area below the 26,000-acre Saylorville Lake Project, which stretches more than 50 miles up the Des Moines River Valley. The lake provides a wide variety of recreational activities, including boating, swimming, fishing, hiking and hunting.

    Recreation

    Visitors enjoy Saylorville Lake for its excellent boating, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and swimming opportunities. Anglers will find walleye, wiper, largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and northern pike. The paved Neal Smith Trail winds 24 miles from Des Moines to Big Creek State Park and connects the campgrounds on the east side of the lake. It is designated as a National Recreation Trail and is used for biking, hiking, jogging, walking and in-line skating.

    Facilities

    Visitors enjoy Saylorville Lake for its excellent boating, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and swimming opportunities. Anglers will find walleye, wiper, largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and northern pike. The paved Neal Smith Trail winds 24 miles from Des Moines to Big Creek State Park and connects the campgrounds on the east side of the lake. It is designated as a National Recreation Trail and is used for biking, hiking, jogging, walking and in-line skating.

    Natural Features

    Large shade trees dot the open grassy areas of the campground, which offers excellent views of the Des Moines River. Most campsites are within easy walking distance of the shore. Wildlife is abundant throughout the project. White-tailed deer, turkeys, waterfowl and other small game animals roam the lands around the lake.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • RVs
    • Tents

    $24 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Prairie Flower Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Prairie Flower Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Prairie Flower Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Prairie Flower Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Prairie Flower Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Prairie Flower Recreation Area

    5.

    Prairie Flower Recreation Area

    15 Reviews
    44 Photos
    57 Saves
    Polk City, Iowa

    Overview

    Prairie Flower Recreation Area is located on the 26,000-acre Saylorville Lake Project, which stretches more than 50 miles up the Des Moines River Valley. The lake provides a wide variety of recreational activities, including boating, swimming, fishing, hiking and hunting.

    Recreation

    Visitors enjoy Saylorville Lake for its excellent boating, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and swimming opportunities. Anglers will find walleye, wiper, largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and northern pike. The paved Neal Smith Trail winds 24 miles from Des Moines to Big Creek State Park and connects the campgrounds on the east side of the lake. It is designated as a National Recreation Trail and is used for biking, hiking, jogging, walking and in-line skating.

    Facilities

    Visitors enjoy Saylorville Lake for its excellent boating, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and swimming opportunities. Anglers will find walleye, wiper, largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and northern pike. The paved Neal Smith Trail winds 24 miles from Des Moines to Big Creek State Park and connects the campgrounds on the east side of the lake. It is designated as a National Recreation Trail and is used for biking, hiking, jogging, walking and in-line skating.

    Natural Features

    Iowa's prairie heritage is celebrated in more than 40 acres of prairie plantings throughout the campground. The wide variety of grass and flowers provides vivid colors from mid-summer to fall. Wildlife is abundant throughout the project. White-tailed deer, turkeys, waterfowl and other small game animals roam the lands around the lake.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • RVs
    • Tents

    $24 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Walnut Woods State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Walnut Woods State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Walnut Woods State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Walnut Woods State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Walnut Woods State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Walnut Woods State Park Campground

    6.

    Walnut Woods State Park Campground

    14 Reviews
    63 Photos
    89 Saves
    West Des Moines, Iowa

    Welcome to Walnut Woods State Park Campground, nestled near West Des Moines, IA. This spot is a favorite for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life without straying too far from urban conveniences. The campground is open year-round and offers a peaceful, wooded setting with plenty of shade, making it a great retreat in any season.

    The campground features paved, mostly level sites, though you might need a few leveling blocks for your RV. Each site comes equipped with a picnic table and a fire ring, perfect for those evening campfires. Some sites also offer water and sewer hookups, while all have 20/30/50 amp electric service. The amenities here are basic but well-maintained, including clean modern bathrooms, potable water, and a dump station.

    For those who enjoy hiking, there are trails nearby that follow along the Raccoon River, offering scenic views and a chance to stretch your legs. Just be prepared for muddy conditions if it’s been raining. Pets are welcome, but they must be kept on a leash.

    Visitors have noted that the sites are a bit close together, so you might get to know your neighbors a bit better than you planned. However, the overall atmosphere is friendly and laid-back. The park is also big-rig friendly, so feel free to bring your larger RVs.

    If you’re looking for a convenient, peaceful spot near Des Moines with basic amenities and a natural setting, Walnut Woods State Park Campground is a solid choice. Just watch out for those mosquitoes in the summer!

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    Camper-submitted photo from Des Moines West KOA Holiday
    Camper-submitted photo from Des Moines West KOA Holiday
    Camper-submitted photo from Des Moines West KOA Holiday
    Camper-submitted photo from Des Moines West KOA Holiday
    Camper-submitted photo from Des Moines West KOA Holiday
    Camper-submitted photo from Des Moines West KOA Holiday

    7.

    Des Moines West KOA Holiday

    22 Reviews
    33 Photos
    42 Saves
    Earlham, Iowa

    We are very excited to provide you and your family a memorable Iowa camping experience at the best rated Des Moines RV Park & Campground. If it's been years since you've camped at Des Moines West KOA, make it a point to stop back in to see all the new and exciting improvements, including 2 Dog Parks, Huge Jumping Pillow, Jump Shot (Trampoline Basketball), Water Wars, Paddle Boats, Organized Weekend Activities, Ladder Ball, Horseshoes, & Hunt Brother's Pizza & Wings. We promise you'll be pleasantly surprised. The park is nestled 1.5 miles north of I-80, off exit 106, amongst beautiful Iowa farm fields, in a peaceful rural setting, where the only thing you'll hear are the songbirds singing!

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    Camper-submitted photo from Cherry Glen Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Cherry Glen Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Cherry Glen Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Cherry Glen Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Cherry Glen Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Cherry Glen Campground

    8.

    Cherry Glen Campground

    13 Reviews
    35 Photos
    33 Saves
    Johnston, Iowa

    Overview

    Cherry Glen Campground is located on the 26,000-acre Saylorville Lake Project, which stretches more than 50 miles up the Des Moines River Valley. The lake provides a wide variety of recreational activities, including boating, swimming, fishing, hiking and hunting.

    Recreation

    Visitors enjoy Saylorville Lake for its excellent boating, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and swimming opportunities. Anglers will find walleye, wiper, largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and northern pike. The paved Neal Smith Trail winds 24 miles from Des Moines to Big Creek State Park and connects the campgrounds on the east side of the lake. It is designated as a National Recreation Trail and is used for biking, hiking, jogging, walking and in-line skating.

    Facilities

    Visitors enjoy Saylorville Lake for its excellent boating, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and swimming opportunities. Anglers will find walleye, wiper, largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and northern pike. The paved Neal Smith Trail winds 24 miles from Des Moines to Big Creek State Park and connects the campgrounds on the east side of the lake. It is designated as a National Recreation Trail and is used for biking, hiking, jogging, walking and in-line skating.

    Natural Features

    Cherry Glen, the oldest and most popular campground on the lake, is nestled on a compact 13-acre wooded ridge. Wildlife is abundant throughout the project. White-tailed deer, turkeys, waterfowl and other small game animals roam the lands around the lake.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • RVs
    • Tents

    $26 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Timberline Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Timberline Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Timberline Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Timberline Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Timberline Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Timberline Campground

    9.

    Timberline Campground

    12 Reviews
    6 Photos
    38 Saves
    West Des Moines, Iowa

    Timberline Campground is nestled on the outskirts of Waukee, Iowa, which is located just a few miles west of West Des Moines. It is conveniently situated one and a half miles away from Interstate 80, but your ears won’t be able to tell.

    From the shady campsites to the immaculate facilities, Timberline Campground continues to delight its guests time and time again. Let your hosts show you how Timberline Campground provides country camping with city convenience! ​

    Timberline is private property, not public property, and shall not be used as public property. Check in at the office and register all guests and planned activities.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access

    $35 - $80 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Thomas Mitchell County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Thomas Mitchell County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Thomas Mitchell County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Thomas Mitchell County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Thomas Mitchell County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Thomas Mitchell County Park

    10.

    Thomas Mitchell County Park

    11 Reviews
    57 Photos
    54 Saves
    Mitchellville, Iowa

    Thomas Mitchell County Park, nestled near Mitchellville, IA, is a gem for campers looking for a peaceful retreat with plenty of amenities. This campground operates from April 1 to November 1 and offers a mix of tent, RV, cabin, and glamping accommodations.

    One of the standout features here is the clean and well-maintained bathroom and shower facilities. Visitors have consistently praised the cleanliness, making it a comfortable spot for families and solo travelers alike. The campground also provides electric hookups, drinking water, and a sanitary dump, ensuring a hassle-free stay for RV campers.

    For those who enjoy outdoor activities, the park has a lot to offer. There's a creek running behind some of the outer loop sites, perfect for kids to splash around in. The park also boasts a fishing lake, a playground, sand volleyball, and several hiking trails. The main trails are wide and well-marked, with smaller paths branching off for those who like to explore a bit more.

    Campers have noted the convenience of reserving sites online, with QR codes available at each site for easy on-the-spot reservations. The camp hosts are friendly and helpful, often delivering firewood directly to your site.

    If you're looking for a quiet, clean, and well-equipped campground near Mitchellville, Thomas Mitchell County Park is a solid choice. Whether you're in a tent, RV, or just passing through in a van, this park offers a relaxing escape with plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
Showing results 1-10 of 101 campgrounds

Popular Camping Styles near Des Moines

Pet-friendly camping near Des Moines

Recent Reviews In Des Moines

487 Reviews of 101 Des Moines Campgrounds


No Reviews Found



Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the most popular campground near Des Moines, IA?

According to TheDyrt.com, the most popular campground near Des Moines, IA is Jester County Park with a 4.4-star rating from 27 reviews.

What parks are near Des Moines, IA?

According to TheDyrt.com, there are 4 parks near Des Moines, IA that allow camping, notably Saylorville Lake and Lake Red Rock.