RAGBRAI XLIV Countdown – July 24-30, 2016
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Here’s how RAGBRAI will weave through Des Moines

The State Fair comes early for riders on the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

When the river-to-river ride makes its way through the capital July 23, riders will have access to many of Des Moines’ tourism highlights, including the state fairgrounds.

The overnight stop in Des Moines will bring riders in through West Des Moines, past Historic Valley Junction and to the official campground in Water Works Park. On July 24, bikers will leave Des Moines on a route that goes through downtown and East Village, past the Capitol, and finally, along the fairground’s Grand Concourse, before exiting the city and heading to Knoxville.

View 2013 ragbrai route through des moines in a larger map

This is RAGBRAI’s first visit to Des Moines in 16 years.“We’re just excited to be a part of the celebration of the great ride across Iowa,” said Gary Slater, Iowa State Fair director. “The potential of 30,000 riders going through, maybe they’ll remember to come back in a couple weeks.”Slater is encouraging fair vendors to open for business two weeks before the start of the Iowa State Fair Aug. 8. Food and drink stands, and even the Sky Glider, are a possibility.

“A lot of people who go on RAGBRAI are from out of state or out of the country, so they’ve probably never been on the state fairgrounds,” said Kandi Reindl, assistant to the Des Moines city manager. “This is a little way for them to experience the Iowa State Fair without it actually being the Iowa State Fair.”

The main roads on the route — Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Fleur Drive, Walnut Street — are in good shape, Reindl said. However, the public works crews will be driving the route between now and RAGBRAI and repairing any potholes.

City drivers can expect minimal street closures for RAGBRAI. Dean Avenue, where cyclists will exit the fairgrounds and ride through Pleasant Hill, will close, as will the Walnut Street and Court Avenue bridges, where the events village will be set up. All other roads will open and close at intervals to allow bicycles and auto traffic to keep moving. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway’s westbound lanes will remain open.

“What we try to do is minimize as many street closures as possible, so there’s no obstacles to get downtown,” Reindl said. “We want as many locals to participate.”

The city is preparing for bicyclists to arrive in Des Moines as early as 9 a.m. on July 23; the journey from Perry is only 50 miles. Beginning at 11 a.m., there will be food and entertainment along the Principal Riverwalk and Walnut Street and Court Avenue river bridges. Entertainment includes Everclear, Live, Filter and Sponge.

RAGBRAI Director T.J. Juskiewicz said the ride past Valley Junction and the Capitol and through the fairgrounds is the kind of Des Moines experience he hoped riders would get. “They’re going to get to see some major icons of the state,” he said. “It’s a winner.”

16 Responses on “Here’s how RAGBRAI will weave through Des Moines

Winston Beal

May 6, 2013 at 12:31 pm

This story makes me nostalgic, happy and somewhat sad all at the same
time. What a great overnight for riders not familiar with Des Moines.
Having worked in Des Moines and having ridden RAGBRAI the last time
through, 1997, one can see why the nostalgia. Now live in Tucson and envious of those who can still ride. JWB

Tim van Nest

May 7, 2013 at 8:50 am

Coming in from Mi. Where do and how do I park my car for the week of the ride? Is thee a cost for the ride back to my car afterwards?

Profile photo of TJ Juskiewicz

TJ Juskiewicz

May 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm


If you are looking for rides back, the charters http://ragbrai.com/about/charter-services/ offer these services. For parking, it depends if you are looking at Council Bluffs or Fort Madison. Here is a link to those sites.http://ragbrai.com/routemaps/2013-host-communities/ Enjoy the ride!

Chris Pickering

June 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm

I have a small team of 6 people riding. We have a “chase vehicle” that is a large 5th-Wheel in which we missed the deadline to register in the RAGBRAI camping area. What are my other options on where to park a larger vehicle? Is there a school parking lot, WalMart or mall parking lot, etc. that will allow us to park over night? We are self-sufficient (generator, water, etc..)
Thanks for any help you can give.

Profile photo of TJ Juskiewicz

TJ Juskiewicz

June 21, 2013 at 5:48 am

Plenty of people selling wristbands and vehicle passes on the forums


July 6, 2013 at 5:40 pm


Highlight reel | Megan M. Bendixen

July 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm

[…] up soon, I’m really looking forward to enjoying RAGBRAI‘s overnight stop through Des Moines. It’ll be the first time Iowa’s famous bike […]

Mara Egherman

July 11, 2013 at 10:19 am

Yellow Banks State Park. If they are already full, they may be able to recommend other parks in the area.

Ralph Mullinix

July 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Are reservations required for camping in Waterworks Park in Des Moines?


July 11, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Camping reservations are not required Ralph. Your RAGBRAI wristband gives you camping privileges on first-come-first-served basis.



July 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm

I will not be riding. Can I attend the Filter concert? Is a ticket required? If so, where do I get one?

Thank you.


July 16, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Where would be the best place to leave a car for bikers to find to so they can drive home that evening in Des Moines.

Colin Cunningham

July 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm

We have kids coming from Colorado and want ride Sunday but won’t get to C.B. until after 8pm. Can we buy a daily pass for them?

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