OPPD Arboretum

An educational, nature oasis for visitors to enjoy while potentially learning about planting trees and shrubs near power lines.

The first thing visitors are likely to see is the OPPD substation as the power lines are high and stand out next to the trees. Turning off 108th and Blondo Streets like someone is going to the substation, visitors will encounter the OPPD Arboretum. This 26-acre site was purposely built near power lines to help educate people about planting trees and shrubs around power lines and other electrical equipment. It is believed to be the nation’s first large-scale, utility-owned arboretum. The arboretum’s visitors can discover what trees and shrubs are best planted near overhead and underground power lines. They can also learn where to plant shrubs and trees and how landscaping impacts energy conservation. Signs can be found throughout the site to explain the different plants and show them at maturity.

While the arboretum was built for educational purposes, it has developed into a place where photographers come as well as people who want to enjoy a nice walk. There are two trails to enjoy; one is about a half a mile long and the other is closer to a mile long. As visitors stroll the trails, they will find different plant collections along with a knoll overlooking the substation that contains signs to teach people about the different parts of the substation and their functions. Visitors will find two acres of native grasses and wildflowers along with 16 acres of formal planting/turf area. This creates a beautifully vibrant backdrop for pictures and/or enjoying a relaxing walk around the site.

While enjoying a walk around the arboretum, there are plenty of benches to sit for a while and relax on. Visitors will also find an outdoor classroom in a forested area surrounded by native tree species. This classroom is open to public use and has been utilized by classes from Metropolitan and Iowa Western Community Colleges. While there are not any large gathering places on the site aside from the classroom, there is a gazebo area near the parking lot that provides some nice shade on sunny days. It would not be uncommon to find a small wedding taking place under the gazebo when the weather is nice since the wedding party can have pictures taken on site.

OPPD does its best to keep the arboretum looking nice for all visitors. They encourage everyone to visit and enjoy nature inside the city.