Walnut Ridge Recreation Area is a day-use facility located on the 26,000-acre Saylorville Lake Project, which stretches over 50 miles up the Des Moines River Valley. The lake provides a wide variety of recreational activities, including boating, swimming, fishing, hiking and hunting.
This day-use area offers three group picnic shelters with water and electricity. Amenities include flush toilets, a playground, and hiking trails.
Special Event Permits are required for inflatable bounce houses and water features. Special Event Permits may be required for events that may impact nearby shelters, are open to the public, wedding events, company picnics etc. Please contact the Saylorville Lake Administration Office at 515-276-4656 to inquire.
Shelters may be reserved up to 4 days in advance. If shelters are not reserved, they are available free of charge on a first come, first served basis.
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Click here for a virtual tour of the Saylorville Lake area.
The area is situated on a wooded ridgeland on the west side of Saylorville Lake. Large shade trees cover the area.
Wildlife is abundant throughout the project. White-tailed deer, turkeys, pheasants, waterfowl, and other small game animals roam the lands around the lake.
The 18-hole Walnut Ridge Disc Golf Course runs throughout the recreation area. The beautifully manicured course contains both open and wooded fairways with blind pins and tunnel shots.
Visitors come to Saylorville Lake for its great boating, sailing and swimming opportunities. Anglers fish for walleye, wiper, largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and northern pike.
The paved Neal Smith Trail winds 24 miles from Des Moines to Big Creek State Park and connects the campgrounds on the east side of the lake. It is designated as a National Recreation Trail and is used for biking, hiking, jogging, walking and in-line skating.
SAYLORVILLE LAKE ADMINISTRATION OFFICE 5600 NW 78TH AVE Johnston IA 50131
For campground inquiries, please call: 515-276-4656
Learn more about gear rental options for your trip
Use address 9125 NW Beave Drive, Johnston IA 50131. From I-35/80 north of Des Moines, take Johnston/Saylorville Lake Exit (131). Go north on Merle Hay Rd for 2.7 miles, then turn left onto NW Beaver Drive for 3.1 miles. Recreation area is 0.3 miles ahead on the right.