Ashton Wildwood County Park

County: Jasper | Nearest City: Mingo | Established: 1983 | Area: 113 acres

///Ashton Wildwood County Park

Ashton Wildwood County Park is located in northwestern Jasper County about 7 miles west of Baxter. What makes this modest 113 acre park so unique is the Ashton Observatory. The building has two permanently mounted telescopes and a classroom.

Other park features include a densely wooded campground, orienteering course, nature trail, softball field and two shelters for large groups.

Ashton Wildwood County Park Orienteering Course

It would also be possible to make Ashton-Wildwood a side trip off of the Chichaqua Valley Bike Trail. At Mingo take HWY 117 northwest to Eagle Street and then to W. 122nd Street North. The distance from Mingo to the park is 4 miles.

Observatory

The twin domed observatory structure is twenty minutes north-east of Des Moines which helps to minimize light pollution. It houses a 16-inch, f/4.5 Newtonian, and a 16-inch Meade Reflector telescope. A 30’ x 30’ classroom is used for club meetings, lectures and workshops. On the exterior there are seven outdoor telescope pads that are designed to accommodate visitor’s personal equipment.

Ashton Wildwood County Park Twin Domed Observatory

The telescopes are maintained by the Des Moines Astronomical Society. A list of events can be found on their site.

Campground

The campground is tidy and surprisingly large. It’s tucked into a dense growth of oak and hickory trees.

Ashton Wildwood County Park Campground

Camp sites are primitive and do not have water or electric. There are some very private spots tucked into the trees and others are more public. All of the sites have plenty of space between them. Camping pads are grass with gravel and are mostly level. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table.

Ashton Wildwood County Park Camping Pad

The restroom facility is primitive and includes a women’s and men’s toilet. The lack of modern hookups and dump station may discourage large campers.

Camp sites operate on a first come first serve basis and no reservations are taken.

Final Impression

The Ashton Observatory combined with a well maintained park makes Ashton-Wildwood County Park an unexpected pleasure.

Related Parks You May Like

  1. Rock Creek State Park
  2. Mariposa Recreation Area
2018-04-21T15:54:42+00:00

About the Author:

I launched Iowa Parklands in November of 2012. It’s an enjoyable way to blend my interests in design, fitness and outdoor places in Iowa. — Matthew

4 Comments

  1. Brian H Keasling July 19, 2018 at 8:19 am - Reply

    Are there showers at this park? I read an article that said showers were expected in 2014. I wondered if those have been built.

    • Matt July 19, 2018 at 9:29 am - Reply

      It’s been a while since I’ve been to the park and I’m not seeing anything online. You can always call Jasper County Conservation at 641-792-9780. Please let me know what you find out. 🙂

  2. Cindy Schaefer July 31, 2018 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    One modern bathroom with shower up by the observatory.

  3. Jeff Shaw January 15, 2019 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    your site notes that there are fir rings at each campsite. there are also posted signs that no ground fires are allowed. which one is true?

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