A Family Weekend at Whiterock Conservancy – Coon Rapids

Whiterock Conservancy is a 5,500 acre non-profit land trust located a little over an hours drive northeast of Des Moines. Over 40 miles of hiking trails and 16 miles of single track trails offer a host of outdoor fun for all types of recreation that the whole family will love.

 Before visiting, make sure to download a map and check their website for trail availability and other announcements. Trails do get closed it they are too wet and muddy. 

The name Whiterock derives from the sandstone bluffs that bank the Middle Raccoon River. 


What to See & Do

The land that makes up Whiterock was donated by the Garst family in 2004. Visitors can tour the Garst family farmhouse and find unique historical features such as the Brutsche Log Cabin. Don’t miss the Sculpture Park along HWY 141. 

Our children loved riding their bikes along the Pond Hopper Trail that leads to Brutsche Log Cabin. Miles and miles of trails make it easy to plan a hike. Bring shovels and buckets to play on the sand bank at the River Campground. 

Other recreational opportunities include equestrian trails, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, star gazing, and ATV rentals. 


Camping, Facility Rentals, and More!

Whiterock offers several overnight accommodations including campsites, a rustic cabin, B&Bs, and Cottages. Bringing a crew or looking to host a party? Facility rentals include a modern visitor center to a rustic dance barn. View all the options here

We booked the The Rookery Cottage off HomeAway.com. A former flower shop, the Rookery comes with a huge list of amenities. In fact, I over packed. Super host Matt & Emily have really thought of everything when preparing for guests. The two-room cottage includes two queen beds, a futon, kitchenette with supplies, floor fans, linens, lawn chairs, fire supplies and more.  Being pet friendly was a huge plus and allowed us to bring our furbaby Toby along. 

The Rookery is set on a beautiful country acreage with stunning views and access to the Whiterock trail system.  

The children loved helping collect chicken eggs at chore time and petting the animals.

If you are looking to enjoy a bite of the farm life, this is the place for you!  

Matt works for the conservancy and both he and Emily are a wealth of information for where to go and what to do. 

We enjoyed an evening hike through the “magical forest” that links up to the Rookery. There are several fun surprises along the trail and we won’t share so you can enjoy them too. 

Bring the bikes along to ride on the Whiterock trails or head east on HWY 141 to Perry for the bike the Raccoon River Valley Trail. A great trail head location is Forest Park. 

We loved our stay at the Rookery Cottage and visit to Whiterock Conservancy. We will be back for sure and encourage you to bring your family for a day or week of play! 

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2 comments

  1. Oooo I’ll have to look in to the ATV thing! I have my own that we’ve taken trail riding in Waterloo and Tama and we’re always on the lookout for more places to go! I know there’s another close to me in Solon too!

    1. We have wanted to take the bikes to a few places in southeast Iowa but never have made it. It’s fun to have more options in Iowa! Take a look at the trail map for Whiterock. 🙂

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