Sleepy Hollow Sports Park to Join Polk County Conservation’s Family of Parks

Published 9/9/2021 10:29:16 AM

Photo Courtesy of Catch DSM

Sleepy Hollow Sports Park Now a Part of Our Family of Parks & Trails

Photos Courtesy of Catch DSM

Polk County is thrilled to announce plans to purchase Sleepy Hollow Sports Park and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities for the public. Sleepy Hollow is a 76-acre sports and family recreation complex located at 4051 Dean Avenue on the east side of Des Moines.

“Bringing Sleepy Hollow into the Polk County Conservation family of parks embodies our mission to provide quality outdoor recreation, conservation education, and the long-term protection of Polk County County’s natural heritage. We look forward to honoring the rich tradition that this facility has provided Central Iowans for 30 years and we are excited to expand and enhance its importance within our community.” stated Richard Leopold, Director of Polk County Conservation   

Beginning in 2022, a $3 million dollar fundraising campaign will begin to implement a series of capital improvements for campgrounds, shower house, winter sports facility, hiking and ski/snowshoe trails, and water trail access on Fourmile Creek. Polk County Conservation, future manager and operator of the Sports Park, is thrilled to continue and enhance the year-round outdoor recreation atmosphere that has been so revered in this location for many years. Future plans include:

  • Development of a full service 60 site campground, expansion of current electric campground facilities (including State Fair camping), and the establishment of tent camping amenities. Additionally, a new shower house/restroom building, dump station, and registration booth would be added to enhance the camping experience.
  • Minor interior and exterior improvements, including ADA upgrades, to the existing Ski Lodge that serves an operational hub and indoor gathering space for groups. This space will be ideal for environmental education and outdoor recreation programming.
  • Continuation of winter snowboarding and tubing recreational opportunities, plus the addition of new cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, and possibly downhill ski trails.
  • Improved access to the existing pond and enhanced fisheries for public fishing and public programming. During the winter months, the pond will be converted to an ice skating rink.
  • Future park connection to the Gay Lea Wilson Trail which will provide a safe route to downtown Des Moines, Pleasant Hill, and Altoona.
  • Expansion of hiking trails throughout the park.
  • Central Iowa Water Trails kayak access and staging area. Extensive streambank restoration will occur on Fourmile Creek to prevent erosion and enhance water quality.

Polk County Board of Supervisor Tom Hockensmith added, “Generations of families have enjoyed year-round activities at Sleepy Hollow Sports Park and I am thrilled to bring this community tradition into Polk County’s portfolio of parks. We have a long history of managing trails, wetlands and conservation areas and the purchase of this property will help us advance some of our water quality goals for the Fourmile Creek watershed as well as engage our residents in year-round outdoor recreation.”

The current owners of Sleepy Hollow will continue to run all operations through the end of 2022. Beginning in 2023, Polk County Conservation will operate the winter sports facility and the current owners will continue camping operations and special events including Kosmic Kingdom, Renaissance Faires, and the Scream Park. In 2024, Polk County Conservation will run all operations, with the current owners to continue running the special events listed above.

Longtime Sleepy Hollow owners Rick and Mary Flatt added, “Thirty years ago Mary and I began the process of growing a business, with the intention of offering a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities to our fellow citizens of Polk County. Sleepy Hollow blossomed into many activities from snow tubing, skiing, snowboarding, golf (both a 9 hole course and miniature), batting cages, soccer fields, and go-karts to Renaissance Faires, concerts, and Halloween activities. Our most recent addition was camping which included over 300 improved sites used for Iowa State Faire attendees. Sleepy Hollow has bore many fruits. For the past few years Mary and I have pondered who would tend to all these many and varied activities and help them continue to grow and evolve. We believe we have found the best possible stewards for the future of Sleepy Hollow. Who could possibly be a better gardener for all these offerings than Polk County Conservation? With their vision and resources, they will enhance and expand opportunities for Polk County residents and visitors as well as protect the over 70 acres of park setting that is Sleepy Hollow. For the next few years we will serve as the transitional stewards in this process. Mary and I couldn’t be more confident that what we cultivated some 30 years ago will grow exponentially in the future in the hands of Polk County Conservation. They will, by definition, protect what we have worked so hard to create, while vigorously expanding the boundaries to include future needs and wants of the citizens of Polk County.”

A press conference has been scheduled for noon on Tuesday, September 14, at the Sleepy Hollow Event Center located at 4051 Dean Ave. in Des Moines. Speakers from Polk County Conservation, Polk County Board of Supervisors, and Sleepy Hollow will address this transition and future plans. For more information about Sleepy Hollow, please contact Richard Leopold at 515-323-5322 or