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Backbone State Park, Dundee
(4.5/5 based on 50+ reviews on the web)
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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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • A perfect day in October for a hike. We hiked the "Backbone Trail" Fantastic scenery. Did a little fishing. Checked out the Auditorium " and had a picnic lunch. I would recommend that you print a map ...  more »
  • My wife and I were driving back from Galena, Illinois to Omaha last Sunday, and thought we'd take a small detour and check out the park. It was so worth it! The layout was a little confusing, with mul...  more »
  • We (me, my wife and my dog) went on a hike there this past weekend. It is definitely a beautiful park with a lot of opportunities for recreation. Though the water quality is unacceptably bad so don't ...  more »
Google
  • This is a beautiful park. Mature forest with walking paths and hiking trails, a cool clear stream fed by the springs in the park. And so much more. I can't say much about the lake, as it stormed the first day we were there, and the lake was covered in algae? (The lake is on the stream that wanders through the park) If you decide to camp: the campground is spacious and includes beautiful mature trees for shade. The bathroom and shower facilities are wonderful. The shower rooms (on our end of the campground anyway) were separate, private bathrooms with a shower in each. They were cleaned and the toilet paper restocked everyday we were there. They were kept in really nice condition. See my pictures for what they look like, just remember to bring hand soap. They have cute cabins on the east side of the lake. I can't answer to how nice they are, but they are adorable! I hope this review helps. I know you will enjoy the park if you go for a visit!
  • My grandmother and I drove 2.5 hours away to come to this hidden treasure! We spent almost the entire day there, hiking every which way and where. My mom had visited this park a long time ago when she was in her early twenties. She suggested coming here because of the incredible trails, cozy campgrounds, and overall atmosphere. You will be so refreshed visiting this place. When you first pull up, you can hardly believe what you see! It is tucked away admist a bunch of fields of various different crops. Such a beautiful piece of land! If you are ever in the area, you must stop and have a look! You will not be disappointed.
  • I'm always amazed when this little jewel pops out of nowhere in the middle of a bunch of corn fields. Lots of hiking with great scenery. Some small caves to explore. Haven't rented a cabin yet, but want to. Beach is OK. Careful with little ones on the Backbone trail, it can be dangerous if they're not kept close.
  • Had a great time with the family all of my kids found different things to do hiking both on and off trails climbing rocks climbing trees the scenery was amazing a great family day and experience in Iowa
  • Tried getting a reserved site and the person on the phone told us we couldn't reserve any sites and had to do walk in. Got there and picked out a Site that wasn't reserved and put down for five days. Two and a half days later we found out ourselves that our site was now reserved and had been for a while, but wasn't posted at the time we got there. We went to them and they told us that we needed to move. The next morning they came to us and told us that we needed to move even though they didn't have it posted yet. When we talked to the person that ran the park she told that she couldn't do everything and that we couldn't get our money back. I will never go back to this place. They have zero organization with walk in and reserve camp sites and they take no responsibility for their lack of organization. This was the worst camping experience I have ever had camping.