Park Shelter Reservations

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Make your next party or family outing special by having it in one of West Des Moines' beautiful parks. Shelter rental reservations can be made beginning on the first business day of January each year.

You can view shelter availability and submit requests for a shelter reservations online.
Click on the button below to start now!


Information needed for rental requests:

  • Start time for event set-up
  • End time for event clean-up
  • Number of guests anticipated
  • Additional permit applications needed (if applicable)
  • Contact person/payor
    • Name, Birthdate, Address, Phone and Email
  • Payment method (We do not accept American Express.)

Shelter reservations can also be made by phone with Visa, Mastercard or Discover by calling 515-222-3444 or in person with cash, check, or credit card at the West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Administrative Office at 4200 Mills Civic Parkway. Office hours are 8am-5pm Monday-Friday.

Open-air shelters that can be reserved, weather permitting, between April 15 and October 15, are located at the following parks:

Park Shelter


American Legion Park

75 people

Brookview Park

40 people

Crossroads Park

(Rental of Crossroads Park shelter includes reservation of the adjacent open playfield.)

60 people

Fairmeadows Park

50 people

Pearson Park

60 people

Raccoon River Park

Biddle Rotary Shelter

Coneflower Shelter A

Coneflower Shelter B

Coneflower Shelter C


75 people

50 people

50 people

50 people

Valley View Park      75 people                     

When not rented, the shelters listed above are available for use on a first-come, first-served basis.  

All other park shelters are non-reservable but are available on a first-come, first-served basis. 
Click here for a matrix comparing all West Des Moines' parks and their amenities

Rental Rates: $10 per hour, four hour minimum - rental time must include setup, event and clean-up. 

  • Shelter reservation fees are non-refundable. There are no refunds for cancellations.
  • Changes in event date, time or location are subject to availability and will result in a $10 change fee.
  • Events impacted by inclement weather must contact the Administrative Office at 515-222-3444 for rescheduling options within 3 business days of the event. 
  • Rescheduled dates must occur within the current calendar year.
  • Changes due to inclement weather will still result in a $10 change fee.
  • Additional permits are subject to availability and additional fees apply.  Additional permits are needed for amplified sound (DJ, band, karaoke, etc.) or tent/inflatable (bounce house, etc.)
  • The Park Shelter Rental Agreement serves as proof of your rental and event details. Please have it available during your rental.

For more information call 515-222-3444 or email

Raccoon River Park, located in the southeast part of the city, is the "crown jewel" of the West Des Moines Parks system. The 631.61 acres of parkland provide active and passive recreational experiences, along with several hundred acres of natural areas for wildlife.

Click here to download a map showing how to get to Raccoon River Park.

Blue Heron Lake

Blue Heron is a 232 acre lake that is the center piece of the park, and provides boat access for area fishing enthusiasts and water lovers. The entire lake is designated a no wake zone, thus providing a more passive recreational experience. The lake is managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and home to a wide variety of species of fish.

Swimming Beach

The 500 foot long beach overlooks Blue Heron Lake and provides a great place to cool off on a hot summer day.
Swimming Beach

There are no lifeguards on duty, so the beach is a swim at your own risk beach. Swimming is allowed in designated areas (roped area at beach) only, except for organized activities approved by the director of parks and recreation. No swimming is allowed from boats. Inner tubes, air mattresses, or other beach toy type items are allowed in designated areas only.

On September 30, 2019, the ropes have been removed from the beach area. The beach is now officially closed for the season.

E. coli levels are tested approximately every three weeks from Memorial Day through Labor Day. If levels are ever too high for safe swimming, signs will be placed at the beach to notify swimmers.

Date tested


 September 18, 2019 Permissible level 
 August 28, 2019 Permissible level 
 August 19, 2019 Permissible level 
 August 1, 2019 Permissible level 
 July 11, 2019 Permissible level 
 June 21, 2019 Permissible level
 May 23, 2019 Permissible level 

The beach is open Memorial Day through Labor Day from 10:30am until sunset. Bring your blanket, beach ball, and picnic basket, and enjoy a day out in the sun!

Fishing Pier

Situated along the western bank, sits an accessible fishing pier. The 225 foot long pier provides excellent access for fishing enthusiasts of all ages and abilities.

With adjacent parking, and handicapped access to the pier, this park amenity is utilized heavily throughout the year. The pier is easy to find once you arrive at the park. Just take a left turn as you enter the park and you will see the pier on your right hand side.


Construction started at the end of summer 2019 on Raccoon River Park Boathouse. Click HERE for updates and more info about plans.

Boat Ramp 

Boat Ramp

Fish Habitat 2

The boat ramp and parking area just inside the entrance to Raccoon River Park provide lake lovers great access to Blue Heron Lake.

Fish Habitat

In 2011, volunteers with the Central Iowa Anglers fishing club installed underwater structures to enhance fish habitat diversity and

angler use at the lake. Click HERE for a map of lake contours location of fish habitat structures.  

Soccer Complex

The park is home to the West Des Moines Soccer Club. The soccer complex is located on the southwest side of the park and features a multi-field setup that provides a great setting for area youth of varying abilities to enjoy the sport. For information regarding joining a soccer team, please contact the WDM Soccer Club at 222-0079 or visit

Softball Complex

Raccoon River Park is also the home to WDM Adult Softball and Kickball Leagues. This five field tournament quality complex is available for league play, tournaments and rentals. The irrigated fields and state of the art facilities make this one of the nicest and most desirable softball complexes in the midwest. The Raccoon River Park Softball Complex hosts a variety of national, state and regional tournaments along with a full slate of local league play.

Picnic Sheltersview availability_request rental

There are four open air picnic shelters along the north end of the lake.  The shelters may be reserved beginning January 1st each year for private use from April 15 - October 15. Rental rates are $10 per hour with a 4 hour minumum.  Click HERE to learn more about reserving shelters in West Des Moines. When shelters have not been rented, they are available on a first-come first-served basis. 

 Click here to view an aerial map of the shelter locations.

Biddle Rotary Shelter

Picnic Shelter 1

The Biddle Rotary Shelter is located near the Nature Lodge in an open, grassy area and offers:

  • Capacity for 75 people
  • Picnic tables
  • Electrical outlets
  • Charcoal BBQ grill
  • A short walk from the large playground

Coneflower Shelters: A, B, C

Picnic Shelter 2

The Coneflower Shelters overlook the beach and playground at Raccoon River Park. This set of three shelters provides the opportunity for multiple groups to picnic together or to accommodate one large group.  Each of the three shelters offer:

  • Capacity for 50 people each
  • Picnic tables
  • Electrical outlets
  • Charcoal BBQ grill
  • Adjacent restrooms and playground



Raccoon River Park is home to one of the most unique playgrounds in the Greater Des Moines area. This half acre sized area provides entertainment for children and adults of all ages.

The center piece for the playground is a large sailing ship that overlooks Blue Heron Lake. There are standard playgrounds for children as young as 2 all the way up to and including 12 year olds.

Multi-Use Trail

The park also offers a 3.2 mile crushed rock/asphalt nature trail around the entire lake. The trail winds its way between the lake and the Raccoon River providing a natural experience that can rarely be found in an urban environment. The trail is perfect for a leisurely stroll or bike ride around the lake.

Nature Lodge

The Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge sits on the northwest end of the lake. The lodge is a multipurpose facility that is used for Parks & Recreation programs. The building may be rented to host weddings, family reunions, business meetings and much more. The Lodge staff also offer many activities for schools or groups to learn about our environment. For more information please call (515) 222-3424.

Dog Park

The Raccoon River Park Dog Park provides a great space to take your dog and let them run off leash. Permits are required to use the Dog Park. Permit application forms can be downloaded online HERE, permits can be obtained in person during business hours at the Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge or the Parks & Recreation Administrative Office in WDM City Hall (Monday-Friday 8am-5pm).   For more information on the Dog Park please call (515) 222-3444.

Archery Facility

The Raccoon River Park Archery Facility is the first of its kind in Iowa and features 12 shooting lanes with targets up to 40 yards distance.

Ice Rink

The Raccoon River Park Ice Rink is an outdoor seasonal rink generously donated by the Iowa Wild and Wells Fargo in December 2016. The rink will be open for skating throughout the winter season, weather permitting.  An open/closed sign has been installed at the rink and will be updated by Public Services staff based on ice conditions.

Weed Control at Raccoon River Park

Visitors to Raccoon River Park during the spring and early summer are sure to notice the sea of dandelions-either brilliant yellow or fluffy white.  The growth of dandelions, along with other weeds in the mowed grass areas in the park, are the due to efforts to keep West Des Moines' drinking water supply safe.  The park is home to several shallow water wells that supply drinking water to our residents.  State regulations prohibit the application of chemicals, including fertilizers or pesticides, within 200 feet of the shallow wells and 100 feet of a deep well near the softball complex.  The softball complex and soccer complex located in Raccoon River Park were planned to be far enough away from the wells to allow chemical treatment of the turf in these areas.  Otherwise, the rest of the park is off limits to chemicals.

Birding at Raccoon River Park

Read a short article written for the Iowa Ornithologists' Union about the great birding at Raccoon River Park.

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