Des Moines Outdoors

Des Moines Outdoors - a photo of a pond at Yellow Banks Park
Yellow Banks Park

Des Moines Outdoors: Heartland Hiking

Living in the city doesn’t mean you can’t get your shoes muddy every now and then. The Des Moines has an abundance of parks and trails to hit this spring. We’ve already mentioned some popular trails around town; let’s take a look at three often overlooked but worthwhile parks and conservation areas with hiking trails along the edges of Des Moines.

  • Fort Des Moines Park – 1.9 miles

Fort Des Moines Park lies on the southernmost part of Polk County, about three miles southeast of the Des Moines International Airport. The park’s loop trail guides visitors around a fishing pond and through native Iowa prairie, making this hidden gem a must-see in summer months. The 1.9 mile-long trail can be modified to be about 1 mile if desired–check posted trail maps at the park for details.

  • Brown’s Woods – 3.2 miles

Brown’s Woods is a quick drive west of the airport, and has shorter loops for those who might not have the time for a 3 mile hike. Sloping hillsides lead the way through some of the most heavily-forested areas managed by Polk County Conservation.

  • Yellow Banks Park – 3.1 miles

Yellow Banks Park is about a 15-minute drive from downtown Des Moines, but you would never guess by the amount of wildlife and quiet sounds. The park’s trail cuts around two ponds, grassy and forested hillsides, and has recreation areas for baseball, camping, and fishing.

Hiking Essentials

These paths might be close to Des Moines, but you should still prepare before embarking on a hike, especially on a new trail. Be sure to stay hydrated before heading out for your adventure, and bring plenty of water with you to drink during and after your hike. Putting sunscreen on before leaving the house is always a good idea, even on cloudy days, and wearing a hat to protect your face from the sun can also prevent surprise sunburns. It’s always helpful to review trail routes before you get to the park or hiking area just in case you lose cell service and need to exit on a whim.

Above all, remember to have fun and soak up the sights and sounds of nature as you head to the great Des Moines Outdoors!

Is Dance a Sport?

Image free to use through CCL.

Many have the assumption that all dance requires is the ability to be graceful, to stand on your toes with ease, to leap through the air and land without making a sound, the ability to make everything look effortless. There is this misconception that dance isn’t a sport. That is simply an easy art form. While it is an art form, it can also be a sport. When compared to football, many think it looks easy. Research shows that dancers have as much strength as football players or even possibly more.

“Kinesiologist Dr. Jill McNitt-Gray has observed many dancers throughout the years and has noticed that they can move their feet up to fifteen miles per hour and turn over one hundred times per minute.”

(Dachowski, Kylie).

Many athletes of different sports engage in dance and Pilates classes to strengthen their own muscles and increase flexibility. Dance is officially recognized as a sport by the Olympic Committee, yet we fail to see it year after year as an event.

What makes something a sport?

  • Athletic activity
  • Competitive
  • Judges or referees
  • Social participation
  • Formal rules
  • Exists through organizations

It meets all the requirements of being a sport. It is competitive, physically engaging, and requires skill, and determination. Many associate dancing with being such a feminine sport, limiting its exposure to social circles. This often happens in America, the thought of a little girl doing ballet is cute. But the thought of many, when a boy says he wants to dance, is repulsive. We only have society to blame for these stereotypes. The truth is dance is meant for anyone, and in other countries being a male dancer is highly praised and rewarded.

Dance is not only a physical sport but a mental one. Students often remember hours’ worth of choreography, terminology, and corrections. No other sport can also be as mentally detrimental to young athletes. Dancers often spend upwards of 15-25 hours a week alone staring at themselves in the mirror. This can have serious side effects such as eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and perfectionism.

Nonetheless, all that time dancers spend in front of the mirror only makes them stronger. “Dancers tended to have more aerobic capacity, higher muscular endurance because of their ability to jump very high, a higher endurance for spending longer periods of time working their muscles, higher flexibility, and better agility. Therefore, dancers are right up their ability-wise with football and baseball players, but much less attention,” (Dachowski, Kylie). It is time our world recognizes that dance is a sport. Made for any gender, race, age, and ethnicity. It is never too late to join the sport.

Blog Citations: Dachowski, Kylie, et al. “SIOWFA15: Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy.” SiOWfa15 Science in Our World Certainty and Controversy, 17 Sept. 2015,

Cowles Library Archives in Des Moines

Cowles Library is the largest private academic library in Iowa. Under Drake University, Cowles Library supports a variety of digital and print collections. Cowles Library has several archive collections, including eScholarshare and a repository of work from Drake faculty and students. The archive is navigable through SuperSearch, and nearly 100 databases can be accessed through this interface. The library is open to the public, though a few resources are unavailable for non-university members. The Cowles Supersearch provides a quick guide to the Cowles archives. Databases can be browsed based on subject, major, or media. Drake University has a variety of archives outside of the library, too, that can be accessed through the web. Drake University Digital Collections is open to researchers worldwide. The Drake Law School has an archival collection within its library documenting the history of the school and library.

For students, the EBSCO online archives are available through the Cowles Library. Students can access EBSCOhost Web, the Spanish version, and the integrated search. They can also see the Business Searching Interface, the Literary Reference Center, Small Business Reference Center, Biological Abstracts, and a variety of other EBSCO services. These provide great resources for academics, and more limited versions of the archives are available to the public. More than just Drake University’s catalogs, though, the Cowles Library archives contain histories from other establishments like Cambridge University and the Chicago Tribune. For any student interested in history, there are a wide variety of subjects available for research. The Cowles Library archives have access to dozens of collections about a variety of topics. Declassified documents, Civil War Newspapers and magazines, a listener archive, and many more. Not only history students benefit from these collections, though. The archives also hold a complete collection of the Oxford Handbooks covering subjects such as business, philosophy, religion, literature, and psychology. Many classical books, letters, images, and thousands of academic journals provide a wealth of information for any curious student.

Found in Des Moines’ home university, Cowles Library acts as a free service for Drake University students as well as Des Moines residents. It acts as a service to connect Des Moines residents with books, texts, pamphlets, and vinyl that might otherwise be inaccessible to the public. The Cowles Library staff, too, are valuable wells of information. Occasionally, guest speakers and events are held in the library, providing Des Moines residents with invaluable insight from professionals.