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Nestled in the hills just south of the Des Moines metro, at the convergence of two rivers, Carlisle offers the small-town life just minutes from the amenities of the Des Moines Metro. The town has adopted conservations techniques that shape the growth of the town, taking measures like planting native flowers to absorb rainwater, building trails to connect the different parts of town, and always finding ways to encourage residents to preserve the area's natural beauty.


There are several scenic trails for biking and hiking in the Carlisle area, including the Carlisle Nature Trail, Summerset Trail, the Yellow Banks Backpacker, Pond, and Boardwalk Trails. Carlisle is served by the Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency (HIRTA) for transport services, but there is no bus service available. The average one-way commute for Carlisle residents is 22.4 minutes, a bit shorter than the national average of 26.4.

Activity & Entertainment

There is always something to do in Carlisle, from the Halloween-themed Trail of Terror and Pumpkinfest in October to Light Up Carlisle during the winter holidays and a Community Family Bike Ride in the summer. Although the big city is close, this small city offers residents much of what they need, right at home, including grocery stores, downtown shopping, restaurants, and more.


Carlise was originally built when the nearby settlement of Dudley was destroyed in the Great Flood of 1851, and its residents relocated and called their new home Carlisle, after a town in Pennsylvania. In the 1860s, the railroads came to town and the original downtown district was moved to make way. Over the years, the Bank of Carlisle was founded, and shops, doctors' offices, and other businesses soon joined it. Early industries included lumber and flour mills, and brick and tile manufacturer. In the 1950s, the Heartland Coop grain elevator and the General Mills flour mill and packaged food plant were established at Avon, and later annexed into Carlisle.

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