Greenwood Ashworth Park is a 140-acre park in the heart of Des Moines. There’s something for everyone here, from a dense forest and pond to trails and a swimming pool!
Greenwood and Ashworth are officially two separate parks, combined to provide a ton of outdoor recreational activities.
A Brief History of Greenwood Ashworth Park
Greenwood Park became Des Moines’ first park in 1894 after park commissioners purchased the land. A rose garden and outdoor amphitheater were added in the 1930s. And the Des Moines Art Center opened its doors in 1948.
In 1996, the vision of artist Mary Miss became a reality when Greenwood Pond: Double Site (Greenwood Park Lagoon) became an outdoor classroom. The surrounding boardwalk offers easy access for an up-close experience. People of all ages learn first-hand about the pond’s wetland area, wildlife, and ecosystem.
Ashworth Park was donated to the city of Des Moines in 1924 by the Ashworth family, who came to Iowa in 1851. Charles H. Ashworth and his brother gifted the land, with the condition that it would be a city park with a pool.
Things to Do at Greenwood Ashworth Park
The Rose Garden
The Clare and Miles Mills’ Rose Garden is 4.5 beautiful acres filled with hundreds of varieties of roses. Stroll through over 2000 roses of all shapes and sizes. It’s a gardener’s paradise but also the perfect spot for photos or a family outing. Entrance to the garden is free, and it’s available for rental for weddings and other events too!
The rose garden is just south of the Des Moines Art Center. Access it on the southwest side of the Art Center, off of the Myron and Jacqueline Blank Parkway.
The Sylvan Amphitheater is on a sloping landscape surrounded by mature oak trees. It’s on the west side of 45th St, close to Greenwood Park Lagoon.
When opened in 1931, the theater held a standing audience of 1500—renovations in 2004 created seating for 200 people. The theater is on the National Register of Historic Places. Event rental is available.
Greenwood Park Lagoon
The Greenwood Park Lagoon, also called Greenwood Pond, is a combination of urban wetland, art, and open-air classroom rolled into one. It’s on the west side of 45th Street, past the amphitheater.
Visitors enjoy walking the boardwalk and trail surrounding the pond. And kids love exploring around the water’s edge. Fishing is also a popular activity; the Iowa DNR also stocks the pond with bass, bluegill, and catfish.
Greenwood Park Playground and Sprayground
Kids love the playground and sprayground area of the park! The popular sprayground was added in 2015 and is the perfect place to cool off on hot summer days. Featuring spraying rocks, complete with “fossils,” it offers summer fun for all ages. To get there, turn left (east) off 45th Street and go up the hill by the Greenwood Pond area (follow the signs).
Ashworth pool is Iowa’s very first municipal pool. It was reconstructed in the 1980s and features a baby pool and a large, 50-meter pool, with lanes, diving boards, and water basketball hoops. It’s on the east side of 45th Street, at 101 SW 45th Street in Des Moines. For information on hours and admissions, visit the Des Moines Parks and Recreation page.
A tennis court is by the playground and spraygrounds. Follow signs near the pond to the spraygrounds and school (up the hill on the east side of 45th Street).
Enclosed and open shelters are near the playground. They’re available for rental through Des Moines Parks and Rec.
Des Moines Art Center
In 1948, the Des Moines Art Center opened on the north side of Greenwood Park. It’s expanded over the years and is home to a variety of inspirational and fascinating art exhibits. Admission to the museum is free.
The Art Center also provides learning opportunities and is host to a wide range of events each year.
Trails at Greenwood Ashworth Park
When it comes to trails, there’s something for everyone in and around this great park. There are paved, gravel, and dirt trails for biking, hiking, and walking.
A gravel trail circles the pond, and on the north side, a paved path leads to the Rose Garden.
A paved sidepath runs along 45th Street, ending on the south side of Greenwood pond. South of the pond, a narrow sidewalk is on the east side of the road for pedestrians to get to the pool.
On the south side of the park, you’ll find the Bill Riley Trail, a paved trail perfect for biking and walking. The trail intersects with Walnut Creek Trail just south of the park. From there, you can continue for miles and miles in any direction.
Center Trails are singletrack dirt trails through the park’s mature forest. Mountain bikers and hikers enjoy the adventure of heading into the woods on these trails.
Map of Greenwood Ashworth Park
Other Things to Do Nearby
The historic Salisbury House & Gardens is less than a mile from the park. Stop in for a self-guided tour to learn more about its unique architecture, and experience the beautiful gardens.
For an immersive experience, spend a night or two at the Butler House on Grand. This Bed and Breakfast is right across the street from the park!
Drive a mile and a half west of the park, you’ll find the area’s largest bowling alley. Val Lanes has 36 bowling lanes and a snack bar too! It’s at 100 Ashworth Road in West Des Moines.
Des Moines Water Works Park and Gray’s Lake Park are only three miles away via the Bill Riley Trail (and three miles by car). These parks offer a ton of great outdoor recreational activities. You can find miles of bike trails, picnic areas, and fishing, kayak rentals, and more.
For a beautiful woodland hike, check out Brown’s Woods Forest Preserve, less than five miles from Greenwood Park.
Visit Greenwood Ashworth Park Today!
Greenwood Park is at 4500 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50312. Get to Ashworth Park by driving through Greenwood Park on 45th Street. The official address for Ashworth Park is 100 45th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50312.
Park hours are 6:00 am to 10:00 pm, seven days a week.
Free parking is at the Art Center, the pond, near the shelters and playground, and Ashworth Pool. Street parking is along 45th Street and at the Myron and Jacqueline Blank Parkway (west of the Art Center near the rose garden). Restrooms are at the shelters and Ashworth Pool.