Click to Home
Go To Search

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
Be a part of our TEAM (Trail Enhancement and
Management) and help make improvements to
county trail systems. All volunteers are asked to
bring a water bottle and long-sleeved shirt, pants,
and gloves. Sturdy, close-toed shoes are strongly
recommended. Registration is required by 4:00 p.m.
the Thursday before each Saturday event.
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
Fall Mushroom Foray
Fall is the best time of year to find wild edible
mushrooms and other interesting fungi. Join
Naturalist Jess Lancial and the Prairie States
Mushroom Club for a Fall Mushroom Foray! We
will be hiking on and off trails at McFarland Park,
searching for some fungus among us. This event
is open to all levels of mushroom enthusiast, no
experience is necessary. To learn more about the
Prairie States Mushroom Club, check their website at This event is free but preregistration
is required by Thursday, September 25.

To register for a program, call our office at
515-232-2516 or email us at

Partners Fall Festival
Join Story County Conservation Partners as they host
their annual Partners Fall Festival! Listen to live music
from The Host Country, have fun making crafts and
doing nature activities, and enjoy a free-will donation
barbecue. This is a free event open to everyone and
will take place rain or shine!
O.W.L.S.: Dakins Lake
Join Carol Williams, special projects ranger, for a
virtual tour of the newly renovated Dakins Lake.
Dakins Lake has been managed by Story County
Conservation since 1960 and has recently been
expanded from 41 to 101 acres. A new, 15-acre lake
was built in the fall of 2013, and amenities (including
a boat ramp, shelter, and campground) were added
in the summer of 2014. Carol will update you on
the progress, let you in on some of the trials and
tribulations of building a new lake and campground,
and tell you when the park will re-open to the public.
Fee: $7 for optional lunch with registration required by
4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 3. Menu: Lasagna with
garden salad, breadsticks, and brownie.

To register for a program, call our office at
515-232-2516 or email us at