Reconnecting Iowans with Their River Roots

Rivers are an integral part of Iowa’s natural heritage, and their banks have been a source of connection, commerce and wonder for Iowans throughout generations. Des Moines was founded at the confluence of two rivers — the Des Moines and Raccoon — nearly 200 years ago. 

 

Yet over the past few decades, we’ve become disconnected from the water. ICON Water Trails is about restoring this connection and elevating the water that once elevated Central Iowa.

 

The project leverages relationships, partnerships and collaborations from throughout the state. The goal is to develop advocates and invest in infrastructure that will safeguard our waterways for generations to come.

How ICON Water Trails Began

Hundreds of engaged citizens came together to develop the Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Master Plan. This diverse group included business leaders, city officials, water enthusiasts and more. The master plan was adopted in 2016, giving us a shared vision for what our rivers and creeks can become. It envisions an abundant water recreation network spanning 150 miles of creeks and rivers in Central Iowa. These waterways were previously limited to those with experience and equipment. Our plan expands accessibility to a wider spectrum of locals and visitors alike. The water trails aren’t just for people who like to paddle. There’s something for everyone, including fishing, birdwatching, hiking and biking along the water.

Where The Water Trails Are Headed

Central Iowa is a hidden gem. ICON Water Trails is an opportunity to uncover our natural treasure. Over the first five years of downtown operations, the water trails are anticipated to generate more than $100 million in direct spending, supporting new jobs and new businesses while improving local economies. As the trails develop over time, we anticipate more people coming to the region to play, stay and live. We anticipate this project will take several years to be fully realized. But once finished, it will boast more than 80 amenities and improvements. Visitors will be able to walk, bike, paddle and boat along the trails and experience unique activities like surfing, whitewater rafting and rock climbing.

Protecting Our Natural Resources

ICON doesn’t just benefit people. Thoughtfully developing, stewarding and managing our rivers and creeks protects existing ecosystems and native wildlife. Synergy from ICON Water Trails kindles excitement and collaboration around water quality and environmental conservation. It provides tangible action steps for Iowans from all walks of life to engage with their natural heritage. What started as a small ripple will soon evolve into a wave of champions advocating on behalf of our natural resources. This project is unlike anything else in the region, but it’s exactly what Central Iowa needs. It’s transforming the communities it touches, making the region a better place to live, work, play and visit.

A Generational Legacy

Looking back 20 years ago, we couldn’t have imagined the long-term impact the paved trail system would have on our region. Looking forward 20 years, we imagine that the water trails will evoke a similar transformation as they reconnect thousands with our priceless natural heritage. We need your help to make our vision a reality. The $125 million ICON Water Trails project is funded by local municipalities, the state and the federal government. Most important, it’s funded by generous people like you. Be a part of bridging the gap and creating a legacy for generations to come.

$125m Overall Cost

$55.5M raised • $69.5M to go

Breakdown by Funding Type

Private Fundraising

$23.7M
raised


$33.5M
goal

Local Funding

$6.7M
raised


$11M
goal

State Funding

$10,000
raised


$40.25M
goal

Federal Fundraising

$25.1M
raised


$40.25M
goal

We need your help to make our vision a reality

The $125 million ICON Water Trails project is funded by local municipalities, the state and the federal government. Most important, it’s funded by generous people like you. Be a part of bridging the gap and creating a legacy for generations to come.

Donate Now