A small town with strong roots in family farming, the city of Bouton is nestled in the heart of central Iowa and surrounded by agriculture. Bouton is anything but isolated. Its location near Ames and Des Moines gives it multiple vibrant urban centers within easy reach. Whether your pooch would rather sniff the manure or get pampered in one of the high-end pet spas in Ames, it’s all within reach from convenient Bouton.
So many tempting, tempting trees await at the Iowa Arboretum in nearby Madrid, 11 miles east of Bouton. This 415-acre public garden laced with footpaths is open dawn to dusk. The arboretum asks that dogs stay on leash and provides poop bags and a poop-disposal site for extra convenience, which means a worry-free walk for your own shoes. Need more trees? The Brenton Arboretum in Dallas Center, 16 miles south of Bouton, has miles of trails through the 143 acres of rolling hills, streams, and ponds. Even better: well-trained dogs are allowed to run off-leash at the owner’s discretion (membership or a small daily fee applies).
If you prefer the concrete jungle, there’s the 10-acre Ames Dog Park 37 miles away in downtown Ames. Dogs must check in with the staff to provide proof of vaccination and purchase a permit, but once they do, they’ll enjoy the separate play areas for small and large dogs in a well-manicured surrounding. Then, choose from one of the 8 dog-friendly restaurants downtown, including Aunt Maude’s sprawling patio on Main St.
The compact downtown area of Bouton is just three blocks long and five blocks wide. It's as safe and friendly as it is small, with idyllic tree-lined sidewalks through residential streets. Fortunately, there’s plenty of space to run off your energy at the Bouton City Park, where the town’s ball field is encircled by a grassy lawn perfect for either romping or lounging. It would be a great place to bring a Frisbee and a famous fatboy sandwich from Carmen’s Bar and Grill: you can eat in the bleachers and let your pup run the bases.
For an urban adventure with seriously scenic walking, head
into West Des Moines, 31 miles from Bouton. Known for its hipster culture and bustling
economy, West Des Moines is a great place to sit on a patio and soak up the
vibe. There are 14 West Des Moines restaurants with dog-friendly patios. Our
pick is the global fusion spot Noodles and Company in Ashawa (probably because we’re
imagining a Lady and the Tramp noodle-love
reenactment). Then, pick a park. A series of beautiful river and lake
parks along the Raccoon River wend their way all the way into Downtown Des
Moines, but you could spend an whole day just at the Raccoon River Dog Park, with
a whopping 12 acres of trails and leash-free running spaces. Permits are
required but day passes are available.
In the small town of Woodward, just 5 short miles from Bouton, you’ll find the western trailhead for The High Trestle Trail, a 25.6-mile walking/biking path converted from decommissioned train tracks. With the trail’s stunning views of towns, forest, lakes, and countryside, you might be tempted to follow it all the way to the end in Ankeny — or at least to the 130-foot High Trestle Trail Bridge. The bridge features an art installation that sparkles with LED lighting at night as well as a fantastic view over the Des Moines River.
Twenty miles east of Bouton, the community of Polk City is your launching point for Big Creek Lake and Saylorville Lake. But first: Who’s a good boy? If it’s your pup, stop into the Big Creek Bakery, whose specialty is preservative-free and all-natural dog treats in a buffet of flavors that “Raise the Woof” as promised. Then, hit the lake! Big Creek State Park has 26 miles of trails, plus picnic facilities and Big Creek Lake’s clear water for summertime splashing. If you have any aspiring sled dogs, note that the park is a popular destination for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in winter. To the south, Jester Park sprawls over 1,600 acres on Saylorville Lake, offering trails, a nature center, and even herds of elk and bison (so bring a good leash).
Just 6 miles from Bouton, the small city of Perry, Iowa offers some charming community parks. The largest, Wiese Park, provides a two-mile recreational trail and outstanding disc golf. Most importantly, Perry offers access to the Raccoon River Valley Trail, a 90-mile paved hiking and biking trail stretching from Jefferson to Herndon. As the largest town on the pawpular trail, Perry embraces its sweaty visitors: many local business have signs welcoming hikers and bikers and offer grab-and-go treats that you can munch as you take in the trail’s farm, prairie, and forest views. (Aw, come on, share. Don’t make your pooch give you the eyes!)