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7 Dog-Friendly Destinations in Iowa
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7 Dog-Friendly Destinations in Iowa

Ever been on vacation with your pet only to be forced to leave him behind in the hotel room? If yes, I bet you vowed never to vacation at a place where pets weren't allowed their share of fun.

If you travel to Iowa, however, you and your pet are sure to love it, as this is one place which offers a good time for pet lovers.

Whether it is a dog-friendly hotel, restaurant, park, beach, hiking trail, or shopping sites, there is something for every dog here in Iowa.

There’s no need for you to leave your beloved dog back in the hotel when you vacation here. Take him out and play with him at the nearest off-leash dog park, the famous dog-friendly beach, and many other fun places.

1. Lake Red Rock, Marion County

This is the place to be if you want to spend some quality time with your pup by the lake. Lake Red Rock is the largest lake in central Iowa. The surroundings are ethereal with beautiful mountains, which look even more charming in the fall when the leaves change color.

The great thing about being here is that you get a chance to be physically active. There is a beautiful pathway wherein visitors can go biking/ walking. This pathway goes around the lake and through the campground, which makes it easy for visitors to access them. It also connects them to Pella, a town located close by.

It is a great place for you to bond with your furry buddy, while you go fishing, boating and even skiing. While your dog can accompany you for all these, they are not allowed to swim in the beach. So do be mindful of that. 

2. Raccoon River Dog Park, West Des Moines

This is a 10-acre, fenced dog-park, with separate large and small dog play areas, lined with trees and benches. Drinking water is also available here.

Dogs can roam freely, so this is a great place for your pooch to get some off-leash exercise, although permits are required to be able to do so. You can get them either at the parks Administrative Office or the Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge. Proceeds from the permits enable the authorities to build, maintain, as well as beautify the park.

3. Crow Creek Dog Park, Bettendorf

A fabulous park for dogs which is open from dawn to dusk, and allows free entry for you and your pet mutt. There are certain rules, however, which need to be adhered to. For example, the dogs must be licensed and non-aggressive. There should be no more than two dogs per handler, and all handlers should be over 16 years of age.

The park has two sides which are used alternatively in order to carry out certain maintenance work on the closed side. Each side is beautiful though, with the same amenities such as benches to relax on, and dog water fountains situated right outside the dog entrance. Don’t forget to take the dog toys along for your pooch to show him a grand time.

4. K9 Acres Dog Park, Marion

This 11-acre fenced area is divided into three smaller parts, with the main off-leash area being the largest among them at 8.1 acres. It is a well-maintained, fully-grassed area with a walking track, dustbins, trees, and a storage area. Upcoming amenities include benches and small shelters.

Next comes the Training Yard which is 1.8 acres in size. It is fully-grassed and lined with trees. Dogs which are yet to be fully socialized are trained in this area before being allowed in the main, off-leash, area.

The smallest area is the 1.1-acre Small Dog Yard, which provides ample space and safety to smaller dogs to run amok without running into larger dogs.  

5. Ames Dog Park, Ames

This 10-acre dog park is divided into two areas – a 2-acre fenced yard for small dogs, and an 8-acre area for larger dogs. That way, small dog owners can let them have their off-leash time without any worries.

In order to use the dog park, the owners are required to produce a valid rabies vaccination certificate, as well as purchase a Facility Use permit tag.

Amenities at this park include drinking water fountains, waste disposal units, benches, and a pavement for walking around.

6. Cheyenne Park Training Area, Ely

The park is made up of around 13 acres of recreation yards for dogs. It has a separate area for small and big dogs and all the enclosures are fenced. There is a 1.5 acre training yard which is separately fenced for training small dogs. This yard allows small dogs to run about off-leash and enjoy their time in a controlled environment.

The main area is comprised of walking tracks, benches, a shelter, and mowed areas. Other amenities available here include drinking water for dogs and their owners, as well as a portable restroom for dogs. Entry fee required.

7. High Trestle Trail, Ankeny

This trail is also known as the Ankeny to Woodward Recreation Trail. It is one of the 1600 rail-trails built in a railroad corridor, which was previously unused. Thanks to the efforts of an NGO named Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, this transformed trail now functions as a great place to walk your dog in Ankeny.

Simply station your vehicle in the parking area and head to the High Trestle Trail, which is easily accessible from there.     


It is said that every dog has his day. Let your dog have his day too, literally. Let him get out of the usual routine! Come to Iowa with your mutt in tow and let him live like a free spirit for a while. Having your dog along with you on your vacation will definitely make your trip more fun and memorable.




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