McFarland Park

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McFarland Park is a 200-acre area just north of Ames.  The park offers visitors a variety of ecotypes to explore including tallgrass prairie, woodland, and stream habitats.  



From Ames, take I-35 north to E29, (Exit 116) go west .75 miles to Dayton Road. Turn north on Dayton Avenue and travel 1 mile to 180th Street “T.” Turn right on 180th and travel east .5 miles to park entrance on the north side of the road. Note: people often end up east of I-35 when using Google or Yahoo maps.


  • 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.
  • Adams Observatory: Supervised by the Ames Area Amateur Astronomers (AAAA); available to the public through astronomy programs offered by AAAA. Please see for current program information.
  • 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
  • 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.

Operating Hours & Seasons

Park Hours are 5:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. 
Story County Conservation Center: Office hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 


This area is open year round.