Click to Home
Go To Search

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
Winging It Camp
Stretch your wings, fly like a falcon, and engage your owl eyes! Discover birds through activities, games, and crafts during this spring break day camp, including owl pellets, a bird hike, and more! Co-sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach: Story County. Designed for children in grades 3 or 4. Bring a sack lunch and full water bottle. An afternoon snack will be provided. Dress to hike outside part of the day. Fee of $25 with registration is required by 4pm on March 2.
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 7:00 p.m. at the conservation center. **This meeting will be at the McFarland Park Shop and will focus on tool cleaning, organizing, and prep for upcoming workdays.
Geocache Egg Hunt
Your family will love this new-age way of hunting eggs. Learn how to use a GPS then go search the woods to find the Conservation Bunny's nests of hidden treasures, collecting prizes and candy along the way! Be sure to keep a watchful eye for the golden egg for a special prize. Space is limited to 20 groups or 50 total collectors. Fee of $5 per collector (any child 3 - 14 years old) with registration is required by 4pm on Sunday, March 25.
Explore Your Outdoors: Insects
Scoop in the pond, dig through logs, and discover that all insects play an important role in helping our habitats. This program is for children age 5 and up plus their adults. Participants must be dressed to get muddy and explore (long pants and closed-toe shoes are required). This program is free but registration is required by 4pm on Wednesday, April 18.
Earth Day Hike
Celebrate Earth Day by hiking the trails at McFarland Park with Conservation Board member Nancy Franz. We’ll be learning a bit about the ecosystems in the park as we hike, picking up litter, and discussing how to improve and protect the earth on this important day.

Please come prepared for a medium paced 1-2 mile walk on varied terrain including clothing for a variety of weather conditions, a water bottle, and snacks.