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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 Conservation Board Meeting
The Story County Conservation Board invites the public to attend its monthly board meeting on Monday, December 1, at 5:30 p.m. at McFarland Park, 56461 180th Street, Ames, Iowa.

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

O.W.L.S.: A Photographic Safari to Botswana
If you would like to view some very intimate images
of Africa, including birds and mammals with young
and catching prey, please join us. You will learn
about African wildlife and hear some incredible
first-hand stories. Many images were captured from
boats plying the Chobe River and along the winding
channels of Botswana’s famed Okavango Delta.
Fee: $7 for optional lunch with registration required
by November 26. Menu: Honey baked ham, au gratin
potatoes, green beans, dinner roll, and apple pie.
One of a Kind Leopold Bench- Session 1 of 2
Looking for a special gift for that outdoorsy person,
gardener, or yourself? Learn the tools, basics, and
tips of pyrography (wood burning) on December 2
and head home with a portion of your bench and
a wood burning tool to create your unique design
over the next two weeks. Return on December 16
to complete the assembly of your one of a kind
Leopold bench! We ask that participants under the
age of 12 be accompanied by an adult. Fee: $45 with
registration for both sessions required by 3:30 p.m. on
Tuesday, November 18. Fee covers bench materials.
Welcoming Winter Wreaths
Kick off the holiday season by creating an evergreen
wreath for your front door with Naturalist Emily
Herring. Participants will also learn about the history
of wreaths, common types of evergreen found in
Iowa, and how to properly harvest evergreen from
trees. We ask that kids under the age of 12 have an
adult present to help them complete the wreath.
Fee: $15 (limit one wreath per person) with registration
required by 3:30 p.m. on Monday, November 24.
Geocache Elf Hunt
Santa’s helpers have been playing in the park! Join
Naturalist Jess Lancial to learn how to use a GPS,
then go search the woods to find some elves and
their presents hidden in the park. Space is limited,
so be sure to register early! Fee: $4 (per participant
ages 3-14) with registration by 4:30 p.m. on Monday,
December 1.