Ames and beyond: Outdoor activities to enjoy this spring

Joy Wessels

If you’re looking for something to do outdoors this spring, you don’t have to look very far. Ames — and towns just beyond here — offer a wide range of activities for your outdoor endeavors.

Ada Hayden

Ada Hayden offers a number of different things to do. Fishing and boating are allowed on the lake, so rent a kayak or canoe and make the trip out just northeast of Ames. Take some food to grill out and eat under one of the shelters too.

Feel like getting some exercise in? Just take a run down one of the paths out at Ada Hayden.

Peterson Pits

Who says you can’t go to the beach in Iowa?

It might not give way to the ocean, but at Peterson Pits you can enjoy the sandy beach and even swim. There’s a boat ramp here as well, so grab a group of friends and hit the “beach” for a day.

Seven Oaks Recreation

Feel the need for some biking, but you’ve already exhausted the trails around Ames?

Well, you’re in luck, because Seven Oaks in Boone is just a few miles from Ames, and offers seven miles of mountain biking trail. Hit the trails for only $4 per day.

Ledges State Park

Also running through Boone is Ledges State Park. You can camp in designated areas and hike on its 13 miles of trails.

If you’re feeling ambitious, take a paddle down the Des Moines River that runs along the western edge of the park. If you want to relax, grab some friends and tubes and just float for 5 or 6 miles.

Gray’s Lake

If you haven’t been to Gray’s Lake in Des Moines yet, put it on your spring bucket list. In the heart of Des Moines metro, Gray’s Lake mixes city lights with nature.

You can paddleboat, sail, fish and swim in 96 acres of fresh water. There’s also a quarter-mile walking bridge that goes over the lake, and a newly created 2-mile running trail circling Gray’s. Boat rentals are $5 per half hour of use.

With only six weeks of school left and a beautiful spring season, make sure you take advantage of the outdoor activities Ames and its surrounding area have to offer.