Polk County Conservation

News Releases

Sign up for Polk County Conservation’s email newsletter

Park & Trail Closures

Monday, July 15, 2019

Updated on July 15

For updates on Polk County Conservation park and trail closures due to flooding, please refer back to this post, as it will be updated as information is received.

• Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt | Canoe rental closed due to low water.

• Gay Lea Wilson West Trail | Portions of the trail along Four Mile Creek are underwater. 

• Great Western Trail | The gravel section along George Flagg Parkway between Gray’s Lake Drive and SW 30th St. has severe washouts.

• Trestle to Trestle Trail | The Lower Beaver tunnel along the trail is currently closed due to high water. The Trestle to Trestle Trail bridge over Lower Beaver in Johnston was washed out by an ice jam in early spring 2019. Designs for the new Trestle to Trestle bridge are currently underway. Construction is anticipated to be completed in 2021.

• Jester Park | Camp Area #6, Shelter #4, and the interior boat ramp is closed. Camp Area #2 is now open for first-come first-served non-electric camping as areas become accessible, with electric sites expected to be up and running by late summer. Both tents and self-contained RV's are welcome.  

• Yellow Banks Park | The group camp area near the Des Moines River is closed until further notice. 

Glow Wild 2019 Tickets On Sale Now

Monday, January 21, 2019

Hosted by Polk County Conservation and Cumulus Media, this family friendly-event is fun for all ages! Glow Wild is held at the Jester Park Nature Center in Granger, Iowa right outside of the Des Moines metro area. 

Join us on Saturday, August 24 from 4 - 10 p.m. for live music by the Georgia Satellites with local Des Moines band, Suede, as their opener, fun programs, canoeing, horse-drawn wagon rides, signature bonfire, glow-in-the-dark climbing walls, tethered hot air balloon rides, and many more fun activities throughout the evening!

• Children (ages 3 - 17) | 
• Adults (ages 18+) |
Tethered Hot Air Balloon Rides |
1 Night Camping (limited number of sites) | 
$25 per Tent
• Children 2 & Under |
*All campers must purchase a Glow Wild ticket.
*Each additional tent must purchase a camping pass.*


DAY OF EVENT [Prices increase at the gate & online @ 4p.m.]
• Children (ages 3 - 17) |
• Adults (ages 18+) |
Tethered Hot Air Balloon Rides |
• Children 2 & Under | FREE

Buy tickets online or at the event entrance with cash or credit. For more information on festival camping click here



*Tethered Hot Air Balloon Rides are not included within the ticket prices and must be purchased separately.* Option included within ticket link.
Limited number of rides | MUST purchase Glow Wild tickets to Participate

•  3 slots per ride
•  Tickets are sold in hour time blocks
*Please be present for the time block you purchase. If there are only 2 people
in your party, you may be asked to share your ride.*

*There is a 600 lb. weight limit per balloon ride. Please give this consideration when booking your reservation time. Families with more than 3 people may be able to fit more people in the basket as long as 600 lbs. isn't exceeded. No additional charges will be assessed beyond the 3-person per time slot maximum. For questions and concerns please call Polk County Conservation at 515.323.5363.


2019 Camping passes are not included within the ticket prices and must be purchased separately. Option included within ticket link.
Limited number of sites | ALL campers MUST purchase Glow Wild tickets.

• Saturday Night Camping | $25
*Maximum number of people per tent:
*Each additional tent must purchase a camping ticket*


Jester Park Nature Center Facility Rentals

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Looking for a venue for your next corporate or personal event in a beautiful park setting? Consider the Jester Park Nature Center in Granger, Iowa! The Jester Park Nature Center is an eco-conscience building immersed in prairie and surrounded by woodlands. The nature center offers many different areas of the building for your next event.

Rental reservations are now being accepted as of January 2, 2019. Reservations can only be made six months prior to the reservation date.

View Rental Contract and Application Form here. 

*Application forms may be e-mailed, faxed, or mailed. However, payments for reservations cannot be accepted via e-mail. To pay with a credit card, please call (515) 323-5317 between 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Monday - Friday).

For hours of operation, fees, and more visit the Jester Park Nature Center's website here.

Become a Friend of Jester Park

Monday, October 8, 2018

Friends of Jester Park is a collaborative program of Polk County Conservation and the Great Outdoors Foundation that provides more opportunities for outdoor fun and nature adventures!

Friends of Jester Park benefits include exclusive members-only events and programs, equipment rental discounts, a yearly gift of local nature-inspired art, discounts on reserveable campsites and designated fee-based programs, and tips to make the most of your Jester Park outings.

Your membership support provides supplemental funds needed for operations to keep Jester Park beautiful and enhance conservation and outdoor recreation programming. 

Become a Friend!
View Brochure Here

Choose the membership level that fits the
outdoor memories you want to create.

Individual | $25 Annual

Family (Immediate) | $100 Annual

$1,000 + Annual | Corporate – Related Only

Individual or Couple | $100 Annual

Individual or Couple | $1,000 One-Time Gift

Mark C. Ackelson Trail Bridge Plaques

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Pedestrian Bridge (1)

The 6.2-mile Mark C. Ackelson Trail winding around Easter Lake provides an ideal place for outdoor recreation and scenic views for park visitors. Cycling, skating and hiking opportunities along the trail lie adjacent to playground equipment, fishing piers, a boat ramp, and several picnic areas. Parking and trail access is available from any of the shelters and parking lots located throughout Easter Lake Park as well as at the beach. The north side of the trail is accessible from Ewing Park.

The trail will have many bridges, but the one that will be remembered by trail users is the new 440’ bridge that spans the western arm of the lake. This multiple span bridge mirrors the bow-string design concept of the other bridges on the trail, but the two twin piers with observation bump-outs will make the already scenic bridge an enjoyable spot to pause and enjoy the quiet beauty of Easter Lake.

The trail’s namesake, Mark C. Ackelson, served as President of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) for 18 years where he provided leadership in several conservation efforts. Ackelson’s devoted passion for land, water, and wildlife served in helping INHF to protect and restore 145,000 acres of Iowa’s natural areas. Additionally, he spearheaded efforts to establish hundreds of miles of trails in an effort to support local trailside communities and get Iowans outdoors.

Along the railing of the pedestrian bridge, individual bridge plaque sponsors are recognized with a plaque bearing their name or company name, friend or loved ones’ name(s).

  • A $125 - $130 donation entitles you to a plaque until all spaces have been sold.
  • Each plaque is an engraved aluminum with satin brush finish measuring 4”w x 2¼” h.
  • Sponsors may include up to two lines of text with 17 characters each, including spaces, for a total of 34 characters per plaque.
  • An additional line at the top of the plaque, reading — In Memory of — may be added upon request at no charge.


1) Download, print and complete the Bridge Plaque Request Form from HERE. Write the text exactly as you would like it to appear on the Mark C. Ackelson Bridge. Mail the form, along with your check for $125, to:

Great Outdoors Foundation,
PO Box 8071, Des Moines, IA 50301

2) OR... order plaques for the cost of $130 online HERE

QUESTIONS, please call: (515) 323-5300

Your gift is tax deductible according to current tax law. Your donation confirmation email should be used as your tax deductible receipt.

Contact Us

Administration Office
12130 NW 128th St
Granger, IA 50109

P: (515) 323-5300
F: (515) 323-5354

Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

More Contacts