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Backbone State Park, Dundee

4.5
#8 of 24 in Nature in Iowa
State Park Nature / Park
Backbone State Park is Iowa's oldest state park, dedicated in 1919. 1200 acres were initially donated by E.M. Carr of Lamont, Iowa. Located in the valley of the Maquoketa River, it is approximately three miles (5 km) south of Strawberry Point in Delaware County. Backbone Lake Dam, a relatively low dam built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, creates Backbone Lake. The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed a majority of trails and buildings which make up the park.Measuring 2001acre, the region is heavily forested, mainly in species of oak and maple. The geology of the area is particularly noteworthy. As part of the Driftless Area, it was left unglaciated during the last Ice Age, with very ancient dolomite formations dating from the Silurian period. A large ridge of rock divides the park, resembling a spine, and lends its name to the park and adjacent forest. The area is characterized by active springs, caves, sinkholes and karsts. With cliffs measuring over 80 feet in places, climbing and rappelling are popular, but both require a permit.Twenty-one miles of multi-use trails support year-round recreational activities, including hiking as well as cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in winter. The lake is noted for its swimming, boating, and fishing. Backbone Creek is known to support both Rainbow and Brown trout, and is stocked by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources from local brood ponds. Campsites (49 electrical and 49 non-electrical) and cabins are available for rental (reservations recommended). Two shower buildings and a playground are also available.
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56 reviews
Google
4.8
  • I visited in May during the week and almost had the place all to myself. The roadway is beautiful. The trails are great. The primitive campground was very well maintained. However, the recent days of ...  more »
  • What a beautiful and fantastic park. River and lake views, forests, open green spaces, everything is kept up so nicely and natural. Clean and plenty of parking areas.  more »
  • Always a good time. Great sights and plenty of room. Never had any issues other than take something to sit on in the toilets. Plenty of trails and other things to keep kids busy. Just don't take the w...  more »
Google
  • Went to a wedding ceremony in the auditorium the other day. The entire park is beautiful and everything was perfect. The beach Lodge was a great venue for the reception too. Highly recommend the park for a weekend trip, camping, or event!
  • Great little area to camp. Easy backins for travel trailers. Depending on the spot you could potentially pull through. Didn't have time to go hiking but did see the "castle" boat house. Kids are having a blast.
  • My husband and I try to make it to Backbone to camp every year. We have missed 2015 & 16. We just spent our 15th wedding anniversary there this weekend. Our campsite was right by the newly remodeled bathrooms. There was a lot of traffic due to the other bathrooms being redone. No problem for us though. My hubby had great luck in the fishing department. Me, not so much.The beauty and serenity of the park more than made up for my lack of fish. Lol! I took off and hiked The Backbone trail and the Six Pines trail. Not bad for an old lady with arthritis in my knees. We did the Barred Owl trail before we left to go home. Oh, don't forget the wildlife! I love waking up to deer in the campgrounds. So peaceful.
  • So pretty. The Neswold family are lovely caretakers. Gracious and kind. The place is litter free and the cabins are well supplied and kept. Loved my time here.
  • Great park! Lots to do and see, great hiking and well maintained. The restrooms are unisex with showers and changing tables for young children