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Peterson Park

Boating Boating at Peterson Park

Peterson Park has approximately 31 acres of water along the Skunk River Greenbelt.  This is an old mining area with three gravel pits which contain a variety of fish including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and catfish. 

Only electric trolling motors are allowed on Story County Conservation Lakes; gasoline-powered motors are prohibited.  Canoes and kayaks are welcome.

Canoeing & Kayaking Canoeing & Kayaking at Peterson Park

Peterson Park is an old mining area along the Skunk River Greenbelt.  There are three gravel pits (approximately 31 acres of water) to canoe or kayak.  There is also access to the Skunk River Water Trail.   The water trail offers approximately 34 miles from Story City Park (below the dam in Story City) to C.J. Shreck Access (South of Cambridge).

Skunk River Water Trail Access Points (listed from north to south):

Story City Park #246 ** Not owned or managed by Story County Conservation

Broad Street, Story City, 50248

Lekwa Access #242

56156 130th Street, Story City, 50248 (0.25 miles east of 560th on E-18)

Anderson Access #239

56743 150th Street, Story City, 50248 (0.1 miles west of Pleasant Valley Road on 150th Street)

Soper’s Mill Access #235

56364 170th Street, Ames, 50010 (Intersection of 170th and 563rd)

Peterson Park Access #233

17952 Templeton Road, Ames, 50010 (1.5 miles east of Highway 69 on 180th)

Sleepy Hollow Access #230

646 W. Riverside Road, Ames, 50010 (Intersection of Riverside Road and Highway 69)

River Valley Park Access #227  ** Not owned or managed by Story County Conservation

725 East 13th Street, Ames, 50010

South 16th Street #224 ** Not owned or managed by Story County Conservation


265th Street Access #220

56091 265th Street, Ames, 50010 (Near 560th Avenue)

Askew Bridge Access #217

57887 290th Street, Cambridge, 50046 (Intersection of 580th Avenue (R70) and 290th Street)

C.J. Shreck Access #212

59627 Highway 210, Cambridge, 50046 (South of Cambridge on Highway 210; north side of road)


For up-to-date information on water levels, view the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's website: River Gauges


Best float periods:

· April-July

· September-October

· When river is high


· Log jams are usual between Story City and Soper’s Mill

· There is a major log jam 0.5 miles below the Anderson Access which must be portaged

· Sharp turns and other obstacles are present in many sections

· Dam above Sleep Hollow/Riverside Road; portage on river right

· Dam at River Valley Park must be  portaged  


Water Trail - South Skunk River

Equestrian Activities Equestrian Activities at Peterson Park

Peterson Park is a 200-acre park (approximately 31 acres of water) along the Skunk River Greenbelt.  This is an old mining area containing three gravel pits suitable for fishing.  

There are 3.7 miles of trails open to off-road bicyclists, hikers, equestrians, and cross-country skiers.

Trail Etiquette - Trail users should respect the environment and their trails by following these user ethics:

  • Educate yourself by reviewing trail maps and regulations and following signs.
  • Respect the rights of others.
  • When cyclists encounter hikers, slow down to their speed, or stop and pull over.  If approaching from the rear, greet them or sound a handlebar bell; then pass slowly. 
  • If approaching equestrians from the front, ALWAYS stop, pull over and let them pass. If approaching from the rear, ask them which is the best way to proceed. Ride slowly or walk around the horse and rider.
  • Use designated trails approved for your particular activity.
  • Stay on the trail treadway.
  • Enjoy the flora, fauna, geological, and archaeological wonders, and leave them for others to appreciate.
  • Avoid excessively wet or muddy trails. Waiting 24 hours after a rain event is recommended.
  • Ride in small groups, keeping them smaller than five if possible.
  • Wear a helmet.  Park staff appreciate your concern for your own safety, as well as for others.


Fishing Fishing at Peterson Park

Fishing is allowed at the 31-acre lake (west entrance), along the Skunk River, or at the three ponds (former gravel pits suitable for fishing).

The is a variety of fish species including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, bullhead, and catfish.  

A boat ramp is available at the lake on the west side. Only electric motors are allowed.

No alcohol of any kind or size can be possessed or consumed at West Peterson Park.

Iowa fishing regulations apply, for a listing of state rules/regulations please click here:  Iowa DNR - Fishing

Seek permission from landowners for access to private property.  Although the water is public, some of the land along the river is private property.  

Hunting Hunting at Peterson Park

Peterson Park is a 200 acres public hunting area with upland, waterfowl, and woodland species.  Hunting is permitted only with shotgun, bow, and black-powder rifle; trapping is allowed.  No target shooting is allowed. Only non-toxic ammunition is allowed on this area. Please remember to get permission when hunting within 200 yards of any occupied building, even when hunting on public land.  

All state hunting laws apply.  Hunters must possess the proper license(s).   For a complete listing of all state hunting regulations, visit or contact the IDNR in Des Moines at 515-281-5918.

Pets must be on leashes at all times.  Pets shall be deemed as running at large unless the owner carries such animal or leads it by a leash or chain not exceeding six feet in length, or keeps it confined in or attached to a vehicle. Hunting dogs are permitted in designated hunting areas for training, exercise, or hunting, but must be kept on leashes from March 15 to July 15 to protect nesting birds and must be kept under control at all times.

Swimming Swimming at Peterson Park

Swimming is allowed at West Peterson Park in the designated swimming area only. Swimming is at your own risk - no lifeguard is on duty.  Children must be supervised at all times.

Swimming Beach Rules and Regulations. 

A.  Users of the beach facility at West Peterson Park are subject to the following rules and regulations.    

    1.)  The beach area is closed and swimming is prohibited from sunset to sunrise.          

    2.)  Swimming is allowed inside the roped area only when the beach is open.   

    3.)  Certified divers or athletes training for long distance swimming may be allowed outside of the roped area by permit from the director or an authorized representative.   


B.  The following are prohibited at the beach area:

    1.)  Hanging from or attaching people or items to buoys.

    2.)  Using abusive language.         

    3.)  Using glass containers.         

    4.)  Amplification greater than 75 decibels.         

    5.)  Using external speakers from the parking lot.         

    6.)  Dunking people.         

    7.)  Throwing foreign objects, i.e. rocks, sand.         

    8.)  Standing on inflatable beach items in the water.         

    9.)  Fishing and boating from the beach or in the beach area.         

    10.) Using paddles or oars from inflatable beach items.                       

    11.) Pets.         


No alcohol is allowed at Peterson Park.