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McFarland Park
Parks and Trails
Location: 56461 180th St
Ames, IA 50010
Amenities: Camping, Conference Rooms, Cross Country Skiing, Free Parking, Hiking, Off-road Bicycling, Picnic Tables, Pond and River Fishing, and Public Restrooms
Maps: Google | MapQuest | Bing | Yahoo!
Link: Map of McFarland Park

McFarland Park is a 200-acre area located northeast of Ames. The park offers visitors a variety of ecotypes to explore including tallgrass prairie, woodland, and stream habitats. Facilities include:
Story County Conservation Center: Office hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Sundays, 2-5 p.m. April through October. The offices of the administrative and environmental education staff are housed at this building, and the multipurpose room is available for rent for social gatherings and meetings. Educational displays throughout the year fill the center. A cedar deck is adjacent to the building for picnics and public use.
  • Stargazing Observatory:  Supervised by the Ames Area Amateur Astronomers (AAAA); available to the public through astronomy programs offered by AAAA.
  • Touch-a-Life Trail: Hard-surfaced trail through various plant communities including prairie, woodlands, and ponds; handicapped access to fishing dock, deck overlooking the lake, and handicapped accessible picnic sites.
  • Picnic areas with grills: Some sites are handicap accessible
  • Supervised youth camping -  $20/site/night payable at time of reservation - reservation required. Campsites are closed Dec 1-Mar 31.
  • Hiking and Off-road Biking: The park's 5.5 miles of trails are open to hiking and off-road biking, but interior trails with stairs are closed to bicyclists. Please obey all signs. Equestrians are not allowed in the park; horseback riding is allowed on the trails at Peterson Park and along the greenbelt.
  • 6.5-acre Lake: The lake is stocked with bluegill, bass, and catfish.
  • Winter activities: Ice fishing and cross-country skiing.

Current and Upcoming Events For This Facility

Date Event Title
Story County Trails Advisory Meeting
If you enjoy biking, hiking, horseback riding, or canoeing in Story County, consider joining the Story County Trails Advisory Committee. Come share your ideas or perhaps volunteer to improve SCC's trail system. Monthly meetings are held the last Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the conservation center. For more information, contact Special Projects Ranger Carol Williams at (515) 232-2516 or
Story County Conservation Partners Meeting
Story County Conservation Partners invites the public to attend its advisory committee meeting on Thursday, May 1, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Story County Conservation Center at McFarland Park (56461 180th Street) northeast of Ames.

Story County Conservation Partners are community members who want to help Story County Conservation achieve its mission of enhancing the quality of life for all citizens of the county. Since its establishment in 1996, Partners has raised over $195,000 to help support the quarterly newsletter, sponsor annual spring and fall festivals, and assist with many other programs and projects.

O.W.L.S.: Outdoor Alliance of Story County
On a June afternoon in 2012, a small group gathered at a local coffee shop to discuss the need to enhance outdoor recreation, education, and conservation in Story County. As a result, the not-for-profit organization Outdoor Alliance of Story County was formed. Meet OASC members and learn about the exciting plans they have for the county. Fee: $7 for optional lunch with registration required by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 2. Menu: Ham balls, red potatoes, honey glazed carrots, apple waldorf, dinner roll.
Story County Conservation Board Meeting
The Story County Conservation Board invites the public to attend its monthly board meeting beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Story County Conservation Center at McFarland Park (56461 180th Street) northeast of Ames.

Board agendas will be available on the Friday prior to the meeting.

For more information about this meeting, contact Story County Conservation at 515-232-2516 (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday), email us at, or visit

Ames Area Amateur Astronomers: Telescope Mounts Unwrapped
Telescopes are not very useful unless they are supported by a good mount. The question is: How do I choose the one that is best for me? This month club members will demonstrate the setup and use of 3 popular telescope mounts: the Dobsonian mount, the Fork mount and German Equatorial mount. We will look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each kind as well as sharing some pointers for setting up and using computerized goto mounts.

The Ames Area Amateur Astronomers meet monthly at the conservation center. Programs include many different astronomy-related topics, and most meetings end with star gazing at the Adams Observatory. Participants should dress for the weather and bring binoculars. For more information about AAAA and their programs, visit