In light of the upcoming beautiful weather forecast, I’m pulling from my saved photos to share how much we love Ashley Okland Star Park, over on the east side of Des Moines! I think it’s a little confusing on paper; a playground within a different park, a hidden nature trail, etc. but it’s well worth the drive. This is one of my favorite parks to recommend for people who have a younger toddler and older child to entertain, there are lots of unique features for all ages. The rubber footing makes it ideal if you’d like to avoid mud, too. (These pictures are all from different visits, if you’re wondering about any foliage discrepancies.)
Google maps took us right there and the sign is easy to spot. There’s a nice big parking lot just for the park.
The bathrooms are decent; I’m assuming they’re still locked for the season right now.
There’s a nice shaded shelter, we’ve seen several parties there when we visited last summer.
This is the view as you walk up, I cut off a fun dragonfly teetertotter off to the left. I really need to get better playground pictures!
And from the back – you can see the swings well here.
My kids love the climbing options!
You can see the random bouncy car and a bit of the plastic “merry go round” toy off to the left, in addition to the big spiderweb climber my son is on.
This one is particularly unique, I am a big fan.
As of our last visit, there was no signage for the nature trail, but it’s a great little path! All dirt, with several bridges, so definitely not stroller friendly. One end is back through those trees, where the arrow is pointing. Once you wander that way, it becomes clear pretty quickly.
It’s relatively narrow – if you have a dog, it is probably going to pick up burrs.
I really like all the bridges! There are a few neat ones, lots of mossy logs, and places to stop and poke around.
You eventually (it’s not very long, under .5 a mile) cross a “road” that is actually for soap box derby cars, and you can follow that back up to this bridge or cross and follow one of the many longer paths. We have never explored too terribly far because my kids are always eager to get back to the playground! You can find a map on the DSM website here.
Here is the other end, in relation to the playground!
I’ll have to get some more specific pictures soon, because the playground is really neat. There are lots of ramps, a few slides, and a few other different things that you don’t see at every park. Our last summer visit, there was even an ice cream truck! It’s a great little spot for playing with kids.