I'm Spilling My Secrets! The 4 Best Parks around Des Moines for Family Photos.

It is no surprise that folks LOVE fall family photos at a park.  I mean, really.. The mix of golden and burgundy leaves that the perfect Iowa October can bring is really quite breathtaking.  Plus you can be stylishly casual in a pair of skinny jeans and a chunky knit sweater. Everyone LOVES fall photos. So I spend a lot of time hitting up some of my favorite parks each fall. And today I’m spilling the secrets of my favorite parks for family photos!

Here they are in no particular order:

Jester Park

I love this park because you can get so many different looks in just one area.  There are tall grasses, a pond/boardwalk and plenty of rich fall leaf colors. Also, it is one of the only parks in the area with a significant amount of evergreen trees.  This comes in handy if your pictures are late fall/early winter and all the orange-y/red leaves have already fallen off. By using the evergreen areas, you still have beautiful foliage (instead of just some bare branches).


Brenton Arboretum

I feel like this area might truly be a “secret”.  Not many photographers seem to have discovered it yet.  The arboretum hosts many different varieties of trees (including some beautiful weeping willows) and an open vista of rolling hills.  Plus it has a fun natural playscape to let the kiddos go wild on after the session is wrapped.


The Des Moines Art Center

This is THE PLACE to take your family photos in the fall.  I love it. It is beautiful. It also gets incredibly crowded with dozens of families all vying for the same beautiful golden light.  However, the DSM Art Center also has the beautiful Rose Gardens which make for an equally stunning backdrop, year round.

Walker Johnson Park

This spacious park is located near the corner of 86th and Douglas in Urbandale.  I love using the tree-lined trail for family photos. Since it has so much usable space, it is especially ideal for larger groups (like an extended family session with grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc…). It also is fully handicap accessible.  I love how the trail provides a cleaner look but you still get that lovely outdoors-y vibe.

I know some photographers like to keep their photo locations a secret.  I’m not one of them! I’ll happily recommend great spots to other photographers or friends who are looking to do a little “iphone photo shoot” of their own.  Almost all the spaces I use are open to the public anyway, so there is no point in keeping them “secret”.

Did I mention your favorite park? What’s another one you would add to the list?