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McFarland Park
Parks and Trails
Location: 56461 180th St
Ames, IA 50010
Amenities: Bicycling, Canoeing, Conference Rooms, Cross Country Skiing, Hiking, Kayaking, Pets Allowed, Picnic Tables, and Pond and River Fishing
Maps: Google | 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. 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
Penguin Snowshoe Parade
January 20th of each year is Penguin Awareness Day! Walk like a penguin as we explore McFarland Park and celebrate these quirky flightless birds. No experience is necessary to waddle and sway as snowshoes help us conquer the snow. Learn about penguins from around the world and what makes them so extraordinary. This program is designed for ages 8 and up. Please remember to dress for the weather (black and white optional) as we will be out in snow for the duration of the program. Program will be canceled if snow conditions are insufficient. Fee of $5 with registration is required by 4pm on Wednesday, January 18.
Introduction to Snowshoeing
Learn some basic snowshoeing skills and then test them out on a fun hike! The hike will involve activities to help participants practice. Participants should dress for the weather. This program is designed for ages 8 and up. Program will be canceled if snow conditions are insufficient. Fee of $5 with registration is required by 4pm on Thursday, February 2.