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Des Moines
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Located entirely in the U.S. state of Iowa, the West Des Moines Destination is home to cities such as Jefferson, Fort Dodge, Sac City, Iowa Falls, and Ames, as well as the state capital (Des Moines) and the namesake of the destination (West Des Moines). The metropolitan area comprises roughly 700,000 residents, ranking it 83rd in size within the United States. Much of the territory's economy is defined by businesses in the financial and publishing industries. In recent years, Facebook and Microsoft have both built logistical facilities in the area.[5] West Des Moines itself contains features such as its Historic Valley Junction—a homage to the city's original name—the Heart of Iowa Market Place, the Artisan Gallery 218, and the Jordan Creek Trail.[3] On average, 36 inches of rainfall and 35 inches of snowfall can be expected in the Des Moines area over the course of a year. Temperatures often fall within a range between 41 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, though that range is known to expand during the winter and summer months. As such, temperatures rarely fall below 14 degrees or climb above 86 degrees Fahrenheit.[7] The biomes surrounding Iowa as a whole are diverse and varied, contributing to a wide range of local flora and fauna species. Cottonwoods, gooseberry, and oak trees are examples of indigenous plants and trees that provide food or shelter for animals, including beaver, turkey, deer, and rabbits.[8]

What Des Moines is known for

The West Des Moines Destination is named after the second-largest community in the metropolitan area of Des Moines—which in turn, is Iowa's capital city. The destination is located exclusively within the state of Iowa and is comprised primarily of small towns. Approximately 69,000 people live in West Des Moines, making it the sixth-largest city in the state. The area has been nominated for a handful of "Best Places to Live" rankings, clocking in at the 77th and 57th positions (out of 100) in 2014 and 2015, respectively. West Des Moines is unique in the sense that at least some proportions of the city can be found in four different counties in Iowa: Polk, Warren, Dallas, and Madison.[4]

The more prominent city of Des Moines directly neighbors West Des Moines to the east. Home to roughly 215,000 people (as of the 2020 census), it is the most populous city in Iowa. Incorporated in 1851 as "Fort Des Moines," the city's name would be shorted to simply "Des Moines" after only six years. Much of the economy in Des Moines is driven by finance and publishing businesses. In a Business Wire article, the town was coined as "the number one spot for U.S. insurance companies."[5]

Many of the attractions that can be found within the West Des Moines Destination are located in Des Moines or West Des Moines, considering that most of the other towns in the area are relatively small. Des Moines is home to features such as Adventureland Park, the Des Moines Art Route, Blank Park Zoo, Living History Farms, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, and the John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.[2] West Des Moines, on the other hand, contains attractions such as its Historic Valley Junction, the Heart of Iowa Market Place, Jordan Creek Trail, and the Artisan Gallery 218. On average, the attractions in West Des Moines can be found within closer proximity to one another than those of Des Moines.[3]


Des Moines—the largest city in the West Des Moines Destination—was settled at the junction of two rivers in the area: the Raccoon River and the Des Moines River. A number of lakes are situated within the metropolitan region of Des Moines as well, including Saylorville Lake, Lake Red Rock, Blue Heron Lake, and Grays Lake. West Des Moines is a smaller city in the territory and is the namesake of the destination as a whole. Other towns within the boundaries of the West Des Moines Destination include Sac City, Fort Dodge, Webster City, and Atlantic. The interstates I-35—from north to south—and I-80—from east to west—are the primary roads that traverse the region, intersecting in Des Moines. 

The entirety of the West Des Moines Destination is part of the U.S. state of Iowa, which is described generally to be "located between different climates and habitats." Eastern and southern sections of the state are bordered by "humid, deciduous forests," while the north is adjacent to areas that contain "cold, coniferous forests." Finally, the west is near to various "dry plains and deserts." Due to the varying biomes that surround Iowa, plants and animals of many types find their way into the area; however, raccoons and poison ivy are some of the only species of flora or fauna that inhabit the entire state. Near rivers, tourists may be able to spot gooseberry, wild grapes, silver maples, or cottonwoods. Some examples of animals that use these plants and trees for food or shelter include deer, turkey, rabbits, beaver, squirrels, and Carolina parakeets.[8]

Temperatures in the West Des Moines Destination approximately follow the same general patterns as Des Moines itself, which experiences average highs and lows of 60 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit, accordingly. Throughout the course of a year, it is expected that 36 inches of rain will fall in the region, along with 35 inches of snowfall. Typically, the temperatures in the territory rise in tandem with rainfall. For example, from May to August, the average rainfall per month is greater than 4 inches. During that same time, temperatures often range from 60 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit—the hottest temperatures that Des Moines experiences annually. December through February is the most likely period of time to experience snow, though it is possible for that range to extend to November through April, depending on the year.[7]

Des Moines has an area of roughly 90 square miles, 1.73 of which are covered by water. The region is classified as having a "humid continental climate," with summers that are described as "warm to hot," as well as "cold, dry winters." It is possible to view "colorful fall foliage" in the West Des Moines Destination. Overall, Iowa's climate is described to be "colder than Chicago, but still warmer than Minneapolis."[5]


The namesake of the West Des Moines Destination—the city of West Des Moines—was incorporated on October 9th, 1893. The city prides itself on providing "the best possible services to its citizens," as evidenced by its recognition by several national publications as "a great place to live and conduct business." West Des Moines' original name was Valley Junction, and it acted as a railroad town due to its central location. In modern times, the idea of the city acting as a "junction" can be seen through the interstates I-35 and I-80 that intersect the region.[1]

A city hall for West Des Moines was constructed in 1905, though the name of the settlement would not be changed to West Des Moines until 1938. This change went into effect as part of an effort to "spur progress and give the city a suburban image," given that the railroad industry of the territory had diminished somewhat. A newer city hall was built in 1954, though flooding in 1993 caused a necessary relocation that wasn't completed until 1996.[1]

The larger metropolitan area of Des Moines can trace its origins to May of 1843 when a fort was constructed on the land where the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers meet. Commanding officer Captain James Allen was supervising this construction, and he wanted to name the structure Fort Raccoon. This idea was vetoed by the U.S. War Department, opting for Des Moines instead. The name "Des Moines River" is thought to have been adapted from a French name, Rivière des Moines, which translates to English as "River of the Monks." This infers that the literal translation of Des Moines' name is "of the monks."[5] That being said, there is some amount of controversy surrounding the name. An alternative theory is that the term "Des Moines" is derived from the French word "de moyen," which simply means "middle." Given the midway location of modern-day Des Moines between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, there is some validity to this hypothesis.[6]

In modern times, both Des Moines and West Des Moines have been the focus of numerous international rankings and opinions. Business Wire titled Des Moines as "the number one spot for U.S. insurance companies,"[5] and West Des Moines was 18th on a list of the "Hipster Cities of 2015."[4]

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The Valkommen House is located in Stratford, Iowa, on 80 acres of land. Guests have the option of reserving either the guest house as a whole, or a camper that is on the premises. The guest house can house 6 people and has a living and dining area on the first floor. Additional amenities are located in a specific section of the main house where the owner, Jay, lives. These include billiards and a foosball table, a porch with tables and chairs, and a pool and hot tub that patrons can use anytime. Those staying on the property are free to explore the different structures like the barn and the storm shelter. Jay says that many of his guests will stay with him for events that occur in the area or because they want to see what farm life is like.

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