backbone state park

Backbone State Park: Explore Iowa

Welcome to Backbone State Park, Iowa’s first state park and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Nestled within 2,001 acres of lush woodland, Backbone State Park is a true gem waiting to be discovered. With its breathtaking natural beauty and a wide range of recreational activities, this park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

Located just three miles south of Strawberry Point in Delaware County, Iowa, Backbone State Park gets its name from the magnificent Devil’s Backbone, a steep and narrow ridge of bedrock that captivates all who behold it. As you explore the park’s rugged trails and winding pathways, you’ll be mesmerized by the stunning landscapes and the diverse flora and fauna that call this place home.

Key Takeaways:

  • Backbone State Park is Iowa’s first state park, covering 2,001 acres of wooded land.
  • The park is known for its scenic beauty, including the mesmerizing Devil’s Backbone.
  • Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, fishing, and boating.
  • Backbone State Park offers various accommodations, including campsites and cabins.
  • Nearby attractions, such as Wapsipinicon State Park and Pikes Peak State Park, provide additional opportunities for exploration.

Essential Information

If you’re planning a visit to Backbone State Park in Iowa, there are a few essential details you should know. The park is located three miles south of Strawberry Point in Delaware County, Iowa. It covers 2,001 acres of heavily wooded land and is open year-round, allowing visitors to enjoy its natural beauty in every season. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure or a peaceful retreat, Backbone State Park has something to offer.

When it comes to accommodations, the park provides various options for visitors. You can choose from campsites or cabins, depending on your preference. The South Lake Campground offers both electric and non-electric sites, along with shower buildings and a playground. If you prefer a more rustic camping experience, the Six Pine Campground provides non-electric sites and pit latrines. Additionally, the park has 4-season cabins available for rent, allowing you to enjoy a comfortable stay surrounded by nature.

With its location on Backbone Lake, the park offers opportunities for fishing and boating. You can cast your line in the clear, quick-flowing stream, which is perfect for trout fishing. And if you’re interested in boating, you can rent a boat from the park’s concession stand and explore the lake at your own pace. The park also boasts a 21-mile trail system, which is great for hiking and observing the park’s natural wonders.

Location Accommodations Activities
Three miles south of Strawberry Point in Delaware County, Iowa Campsites, cabins Hiking, fishing, boating
South Lake Campground (electric and non-electric sites), Six Pine Campground (non-electric sites and pit latrines), 4-season cabins available for rent 21-mile trail system, trout fishing, boating
Shower buildings, playground

Park Highlights

hiking trails in Iowa

Backbone State Park is celebrated for its breathtaking natural beauty and offers an array of highlights for visitors to explore. One of the park’s main attractions is its extensive trail system, spanning 21 miles in total. These picturesque trails wind through twisted and windblown cedars, showcasing the unique flora and fauna of the area. Hiking enthusiasts will be thrilled by the rocky staircases and stunning landscapes that await them along the way. The park’s trails are widely regarded as some of the best hiking trails in Iowa, providing visitors with unparalleled opportunities to immerse themselves in nature.

Aside from its hiking trails, Backbone State Park also boasts remarkable geological features, including rugged dolomite limestone cliffs. These cliffs are a paradise for rock climbers, offering thrilling challenges and breathtaking views. Additionally, visitors can enjoy the serene beauty of the Maquoketa River and Richmond Springs, both of which provide exceptional trout fishing opportunities. Whether you’re an avid angler or simply appreciate the tranquility of the flowing water, these natural wonders are sure to captivate.

Exploring Backbone State Park allows visitors to witness the natural wonders of Iowa firsthand. From the captivating hiking trails to the dramatic limestone cliffs, there’s no shortage of remarkable sights to discover. Whether you’re seeking adventure or simply yearning for a serene escape into nature, Backbone State Park promises an unforgettable experience.

Suggested Table:

Below is a table summarizing the main attractions and features of Backbone State Park:

Attraction/Feature Description
Hiking Trails Extensive 21-mile trail system through twisted cedars and picturesque landscapes.
Rock Climbing Rugged dolomite limestone cliffs perfect for rock climbing enthusiasts.
Maquoketa River Serene beauty and exceptional trout fishing opportunities.
Richmond Springs Trout fishing and picturesque natural beauty.


hiking trails in Iowa

When visiting Backbone State Park, you’ll find a wide range of activities to engage in and make the most of your outdoor experience in Iowa. From hiking to camping, fishing to boating, the park offers something for everyone.

Hiking Trails

Exploring the park’s 21-mile trail system is a must for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. These picturesque trails take you through twisted cedars, rocky staircases, and breathtaking landscapes. Whether you’re an avid hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, the hiking trails in Backbone State Park provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of Iowa’s natural surroundings.


If you’re looking to spend the night surrounded by nature, Backbone State Park offers excellent camping options. The park features both campsites and cabins, allowing you to choose the accommodation that suits your preferences. Set up your tent or RV at one of the designated campsites and enjoy the tranquility of the park. For added comfort, the park also offers cozy cabins for a more rustic yet comfortable camping experience.

Fishing and Boating

For those who love to cast a line or explore the water, Backbone State Park provides ample opportunities for fishing and boating. The clear and quick-flowing stream within the park is perfect for trout fishing, offering a rewarding experience for anglers of all skill levels. Additionally, Backbone Lake provides a picturesque setting for boating, whether you prefer to paddle around in a kayak or cruise in a motorboat.

Whether you’re seeking thrilling hikes, peaceful camping trips, or memorable fishing and boating adventures, Backbone State Park has it all. Immerse yourself in the outdoor activities Iowa has to offer and create lasting memories amidst the natural beauty of Backbone State Park.


camping in backbone state park

When visiting Backbone State Park, you’ll find a range of comfortable accommodations suitable for both camping enthusiasts and those seeking a cozy retreat. The park offers various options to suit your needs, ensuring a family-friendly experience for all.

The South Lake Campground is a popular choice, providing both electric and non-electric sites. You can enjoy modern amenities such as shower buildings, a playground, and a dump station for your convenience. If you prefer a more rustic experience, the Six Pine Campground offers non-electric sites and pit latrines.

For those looking for a little more comfort, Backbone State Park also offers 4-season cabins that can be rented. These cabins provide a cozy and convenient escape, allowing you to relax and unwind surrounded by nature.

Accommodation Options:

Accommodation Type Features
Campsites Electric and non-electric sites available
Cabins 4-season cabins with modern amenities

Whether you prefer to sleep under the stars or in the comfort of a cabin, Backbone State Park offers a range of options to make your stay enjoyable. It’s advisable to make reservations in advance, especially during peak camping seasons, to secure your preferred accommodation.

Exploring the Area

nearby parks and trails

While visiting Backbone State Park, you’ll have the opportunity to not only enjoy the park itself but also explore the surrounding area. Two nearby towns worth exploring are Dundee and Lamont, both offering a charming small-town atmosphere and local attractions.

For those looking to venture further afield, there are other parks and trails within a short driving distance of Backbone State Park. Wapsipinicon State Park is located just 24 miles away and offers scenic hiking trails and opportunities for fishing and boating. Pikes Peak State Park, located 53 miles away, is known for its stunning views of the Mississippi River, as well as hiking trails and picnic areas.

These nearby attractions provide additional opportunities for outdoor activities and exploration, allowing you to extend your adventure beyond Backbone State Park and discover even more of Iowa’s natural beauty.

Services and Facilities

picnic areas in Iowa

Backbone State Park offers a range of services and facilities to enhance your visit and ensure a memorable experience. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a leisurely picnic or host a special event, the park has you covered.

Picnic Areas

If you’re planning a picnic during your visit to Iowa, Backbone State Park has designated picnic areas with shelters. These scenic spots provide the perfect setting for enjoying a meal surrounded by nature’s beauty. Whether you’re gathering with family or friends, the park’s picnic areas are a great place to relax and soak up the ambiance.

Stone Lodge and Outdoor Auditorium

If you’re hosting a larger gathering or special event, the park offers the Stone Lodge and an outdoor auditorium that can be rented. These historic venues provide a unique backdrop for weddings, reunions, and other celebrations. Immerse yourself in the park’s rich history while creating cherished memories with your loved ones.

Concession Stand and Boat Rental

For added convenience during your visit, Backbone State Park has a concession stand where you can grab a quick bite to eat or quench your thirst. If you’re looking to explore the park’s stunning Backbone Lake, you can also rent boats for a day out on the water. Enjoy fishing, paddling, or simply taking in the serene surroundings.

Facility Details
Picnic Areas Designated areas with shelters
Stone Lodge and Outdoor Auditorium Historic venues for large gatherings and special events
Concession Stand Offers food and beverages
Boat Rental Allows for exploring Backbone Lake
Museum Dedicated to the park’s history and the CCC
Showers and Restrooms Provided for visitor convenience
Parking Facilities Available for visitors

Make the most of your visit to Backbone State Park by taking advantage of these services and facilities. From enjoying a picnic in the picturesque surroundings to hosting a special event, the park provides everything you need for a memorable outdoor experience.

Park History

Backbone State Park

Backbone State Park holds a rich history as Iowa’s first state park, dedicated in 1920. Its unique geological features and cultural significance can be explored through the remarkable work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a group that played a vital role in the park’s development. The CCC constructed various structures within the park, including dams, cabins, picnic shelters, and trails, leaving a lasting legacy that can still be appreciated today.

One of the park’s most notable features is the Devil’s Backbone, a narrow ridge of bedrock that gives the park its name. This stunning natural formation is a popular attraction for visitors, offering breathtaking views and a glimpse into the park’s geological past. The rugged dolomite limestone cliffs found throughout the park also provide a unique backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts, particularly rock climbers seeking an exhilarating challenge.

To fully appreciate the park’s history and the significant efforts made by the CCC, visitors can explore the CCC museum located near the park’s west gate. Here, they can learn more about the projects undertaken by the CCC and gain a deeper understanding of the park’s evolution over the years. The museum serves as a historical treasure, showcasing the dedication and craftsmanship that went into creating this remarkable state park.

Table: CCC Structures in Backbone State Park

Structure Description
Dams The CCC constructed dams to create the park’s beautiful lakes, including the 26-acre Backbone Lake.
Cabins Several cabins were built by the CCC, providing comfortable accommodation options for park visitors.
Picnic Shelters The CCC erected picnic shelters throughout the park, offering shaded areas for relaxation and meals.
Trails The CCC created a network of trails, allowing visitors to explore the park’s natural beauty and discover its hidden gems.

Planning Your Visit

backbone state park

If you’re planning a visit to Backbone State Park, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. The park operating hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you need to make special arrangements outside of these hours, it’s best to contact the park office in advance. This will help you avoid any potential issues during your visit.

It’s also a good idea to check the availability of facilities such as shower buildings and water, especially if you’re planning to camp. During peak camping season, these facilities can get busy, so it’s best to plan ahead and arrive early if possible. Reservations for campsites and cabins can be made through the park’s online reservation system, which ensures that you have a guaranteed spot.

When visiting Backbone State Park, it’s important to come prepared for outdoor activities. The park offers a wide range of activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and boating. Make sure to bring appropriate gear and clothing for your chosen activities, and don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, insect repellent, and plenty of water. Being prepared will help you fully enjoy all that the park has to offer.

Lastly, don’t forget to check the weather forecast before your visit. Iowa’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared for changes in temperature or precipitation. Stay updated on any park regulations or restrictions that may be in place, and follow Leave No Trace principles to help protect the park’s natural beauty for future visitors.

Table: Park Hours

Day Operating Hours
Tuesday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Wednesday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Thursday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.


In conclusion, Backbone State Park is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore the natural beauty of Iowa. As the state’s first state park, it offers a unique experience with its rugged cliffs, picturesque landscapes, and extensive trail system. Whether you enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, or boating, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained.

With a variety of accommodations, including campsites and cabins, Backbone State Park caters to families and individuals alike. The park also provides various services and facilities, such as picnic areas and rental options for special events. It’s worth noting the park’s rich history, which can be discovered through the CCC museum and the many structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

To plan your visit to Backbone State Park, make sure to check the park’s operating hours and the availability of facilities. Reservations for campsites and cabins can be easily made through the park’s online reservation system. For additional information and resources, including maps and details about nearby parks and trails, the park’s website and the park office are valuable sources.


Where is Backbone State Park located?

Backbone State Park is located three miles south of Strawberry Point in Delaware County, Iowa.

What are the activities available at the park?

Visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, boating, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing at Backbone State Park.

Are there accommodations available at Backbone State Park?

Yes, the park offers campsites, cabins, picnic shelters, and 4-season cabins for visitors to stay overnight.

What are some nearby attractions to explore?

Nearby attractions include Dundee, Lamont, Wapsipinicon State Park, and Pikes Peak State Park.

What services and facilities are available at the park?

Backbone State Park offers picnic areas with shelters, Stone Lodge and outdoor auditorium rentals, a concession stand, boat rental, a museum, showers, restrooms, and parking facilities.

What is the history of Backbone State Park?

Backbone State Park was dedicated in 1920 and holds the distinction of being Iowa’s first state park. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) played a significant role in constructing various structures within the park.

How can I plan my visit to Backbone State Park?

Visitors can plan their visit by checking the park’s operating hours, availability of facilities, and making reservations for campsites and cabins through the park’s online reservation system.

Where can I find more information about Backbone State Park?

Visitors can refer to the park’s website or contact the park office directly for more information and resources about Backbone State Park.

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