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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
O.W.L.S.: Geode Hunting in Keokuk, Iowa
Iowa geodes have long been objects of curiosity.
Their sparkling interiors contain some of the most
beautiful crystals to be found anywhere in the
Midwest. Although geodes can be found in many
localities around the world, one of the most famous
collecting regions is encompassed within a 35-mile
radius of Keokuk, Iowa. For the past two years,
Naturalist Jess Lancial has taken participants on a
weekend hunting excursion to this area. Join us to
hear about this fantastic trip. Fee: $7 for optional
lunch with registration required by Friday, January 2.
Menu: Chicken and biscuits, garden salad, fresh fruit,
and a cookie.
Story County Conservation Board Meeting
The Story County Conservation Board invites the public to attend its monthly board meeting on Monday, January 12, at 7:00 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

Snow Day
Explore the winter world during an afternoon of snow
play with Naturalist Rebekah Beall. Bring your family
to discover how animals survive the snow, build a
snow critter, and see what other kinds of winter fun
you can have in the park. If there is no snow, we’ll
make our own! We will warm up with a fire and hot
cocoa. Dress warmly to be outside. Registration
required by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 13.
Ames Area Amateur Astronomers: TBD
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.
Story County Trails Advisory Committee 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