Discover the 7 Absolute Best Camping Near Des Moines

Written by Niccoy Walker
Updated: May 14, 2023
Share on:


As summer quickly approaches, you are probably starting to make plans for the warm weather season. Summertime brings many fun adventures, such as swimming at the lake, fishing, fairs, and roasting smores around a campfire. And all of those activities are even better when camping. Are you looking for some ideas for the absolute best camping near Des Moines? Check out these top picks for days filled with outdoor recreation and nights spent under the stars.

1. Yellow Banks Park (Absolute Best Camping Near Des Moines)


The Yellow Banks Park is the perfect spot for history and outdoor lovers.

©New Africa/

Yellow Banks Park spans 600 acres and offers an unforgettable area for recreation and learning about history. Archeologists have uncovered artifacts dating back 10,000 years, such as spears and stone knives. History buffs will enjoy camping in the countryside with breathtaking views. You can hike through oak savannahs and view a Native American burial mound. Or you can view the migration of birds of prey. The park also offers access to the Des Moines River, where you can go canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The campsite offers primitive camping, where you can be fully immersed in nature. Or there are a couple of options nearby for electric sites.

2. Walnut Woods State Park

Raccoon River

The Walnut Woods State Park is situated along the Racoon River.

©Zena E/

Have you ever wanted to camp around the largest stand of black walnut trees on the continent? Well, now’s your chance at one of the absolute best camping near Des Moines. The Walnut Woods State Park is in West Des Moines, where it preserves a bottomland hardwood forest. The park contains 260 acres along the Raccoon River, where you can camp in a forest setting. The campsite offers more modern camping, with concrete pads, electric hookups, and restroom facilities. You can also participate in hiking, fishing, floating, canoeing, and birdwatching.

3. Des Moine West KOA Holiday

KOA Holiday

The KOA Holiday offers family fun with all of the amenities of home.


If you’re wanting to go camping with all of the amenities of home, check out the Des Moines West KOA Holiday. This site offers RV camping, glamping, cabins, and extended stays. It’s close to the city but offers everything you need for a fun vacation. Plus, it’s an excellent place to take the kids. The campground has dog parks, a jumping pillow, trampoline basketball, water toys, paddle boats, horseshoes, delicious food, and much more. They also have a fully stocked fishing pond, a heated pool, and many fun events.

4. Brushy Creek State Recreation Area

Horseback riding trail

Brushy Creek Recreation Area is the perfect spot for horseback riders.


As one of the largest state parks in Iowa, Brushy Creek offers a diverse environment, from prairies to rivers and lakes. It is a unique area that offers regular camping or equestrian camping. Both sites have modern facilities, such as showers, restrooms, and electric sites. But the equestrian area offers a horse-wash area and hitch rails. When you’re not hanging out at your tent, you can hike and bike over 45 miles of trails, fish 21 miles of shoreline, or hunt for pheasants and wild turkeys. If you love horseback riding, this may be the perfect fit.

5. Cutty’s Des Moines Camping Club

Half underwater split image of many little kids dive in the swimming pool throw inflatable toys lifting hands have fun

This camping resort is an excellent option for family vacations.

©Sergey Novikov/

Cutty’s Camping Resort promises a camping trip for kids bored with “Do-nothing campgrounds.” It is a family favorite in the Des Moines area and there is so much to do. It is a private campground for members only. But your membership comes with many perks, such as camping, paddle boats, indoor/outdoor pools, mini golf, a fishing lake, live bands, carnivals, firework shows, cookouts, pancake breakfasts, and more. Along with regular tent and RV camping, you can also rent cabins, houses, and chalets.

6. Lake Anita State Park

Lake Anita State Park Iowa

Excellent lakeside camping is at Lake Anita State Park.


Lake Anita is one of the most popular recreational areas in Southwest Iowa. The park contains over one thousand acres of diverse habitats and animals. And it offers everything you would expect from a lakeside campsite. All sites are near the lake and feature electricity, restrooms, showers, and a playground. You can relax at the lake beach, fish, play volleyball, boat, swim, hike, bike, and view the wildlife. The campground even shows outdoor movies and provides concession stands and souvenirs.

7. Bob Shetler Recreation Area and Campground

Saylorville Lake Iowa

Originally created to assist with flood control, Saylorville Lake now provides fishing, camping, and hunting to Des Moines residents.

©Bella Bender/

Located on Saylorville Lake, the Bob Shetler Campground offers over 60 camping sites with all the modern amenities you need for an enjoyable stay. There are also nearby hiking trails, disc golf courses, boat ramps, fishing docks, and volleyball courts. This area features plenty of water activities, such as sailing, water skiing, swimming, fishing, and windsurfing. People enjoy the quiet and serene feel of the campgrounds and enjoy having many places to take their dogs. It’s an excellent camping spot for those who want to be spaced out from other people and prefer a more peaceful experience rather than a lively one.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Prapat Aowsakorn/

Share on:
About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.