Quarry Springs Park is a 480-acre park in Colfax, about 30 minutes east of Des Moines. It’s a former quarry that’s transforming into a fantastic outdoor recreation area. There’s plenty to do at the three connected lakes—kayak, fish, hike, camp, birdwatch, and more!
A Brief History of Quarry Springs Park
As its name implies, Quarry Springs Park is an old sand and gravel quarry. In 2015, Martin Marietta donated 480-acres to the City of Colfax. The Colfax Park and Rec Board then took over the fundraising, development, and operations of the project to turn the former quarry into a park.
They began work on transforming the quarry right away. In 2015, the board and volunteers cleaned up the area, added a boat ramp, and developed a trail. And, in 2016, they created more trails, a primitive campground, and the park opened to the public.
Since then, fundraising is ongoing, and the park continues to expand its amenities. They added kayak rentals, picnic areas, mountain bike trails, and more! And there are plans for an RV campground and a pedestrian bridge.
Things to Do at Quarry Springs Park
Kayak, Canoe, or Paddleboard
Explore the three connected spring-fed lakes* at Quarry Springs by water! Bring your own or rent a kayak from Quarry Springs Outfitters, located on-site. With 240-acres of water to paddle, you can easily spend a few hours! Two boat ramps are available.
The park boasts seven miles of hiking (and mountain biking) trails! Grass and dirt trails provide varied landscapes to explore—from sand dunes and wetlands to woodlands and lakeshores.
Quarry Springs has eight Osprey* nesting sites, usually with two or three active nests. These raptors typically come to Iowa in April. They stay until the weather turns colder when they migrate south. The park is a fun place to watch the Ospreys hunt! They dive into the water with a splash and catch their prey.
*Ospreys are large raptors that eat fish. They like to nest on platforms near water. Their numbers have been increasing since the pesticide DDT was banned.
The Ospreys aren’t the only ones catching fish at Quarry Springs! The deep lakes are home to a variety of fish, with Crappie and Bass being plentiful. One fisherman informed us that evening is a good time to catch Catfish there. Shore fishing is popular there since shores are easily accessible. Two boat ramps are available (electric motors only). Check out the Iowa DNR fishing page for more information.
The park currently has 15 primitive tent campsites, one primitive group site, and three RV parking spots (no hookups). The tent sites in this campground are pretty private, and some are near the water. Campers self-register near the entrance to the campground. There are plans for a 30-site RV campground. See the QSP camping page for more information.
Beginner and experienced mountain bikers can find the perfect trail at Quarry Springs! There’s a level, 3½-mile loop around the park suitable for all levels. For the experienced, there’s a more difficult 1.2-mile trail on the south edge of the park (check out a video of this trail!). For more information, see the QSP mountain biking page.
Several picnic areas are scattered throughout the park. Find picnic tables along the lakes and in the prairie on the east side of the park.
An eight-lane archery range is at the park. It’s currently closed due to low demand and available by appointment. Call 515-478-6272 to make an appointment. For more information, see the Quarry Springs Park archery page.
Quarry Springs Map
Click here to see the interactive Google Map created by Quarry Springs Park.
Things to Do Nearby
Thomas Mitchell Park is a scenic 197-acre park 10 miles to the west and has a wide range of outdoor activities! Go camping along Camp Creek, hike the woods, fish at the pond, explore the creek, and more.
Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge is about 13 miles south of the park. It’s a great place to spend the day. Go to the visitor center, take the auto tour to see the bison and elk herds, or wander through the tallgrass prairie. They even have free loaner binoculars, snowshoes, and children’s activity backpacks.
If it’s a paved trail you seek, check out the Gay Lea Wilson or Chichaqua Valley Trails. Gay Lea Wilson is accessible from Altoona, 15 miles west of the park. And Chichaqua Valley Trail is accessible from nearby towns, including Bondurant and Mingo; both are a few miles from the park.
Visit Quarry Springs Park Today!
Quarry Springs Park is at 200 North Park Road, Colfax, IA 50054.
From Interstate 80, take Exit 155. Turn south on Hwy 117 S. for less than a ½ mile. Turn left (east) onto Orchard Avenue (by Kum & Go) and take a right on the park road.
Summer hours are 6:30 am – around sunset. Winter hours are sunrise to sunset.