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Backbone State Park and Beach

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)



Backbone State Park was dedicated in 1920. It was Iowa's first state park and remains one of the most significant. Backbone is named for its narrow and steep ridge of bedrock carved by a loop of the Maquoketa River. Folklore named this high ridge of rock the "Devil's Backbone". It is one of the highest points in northeast Iowa.
East entrance to the park.
Backbone State Park is located 2 miles north of Dundee in Northwestern Delaware County. The park consists of 1,780 acres and is heavily wooded with a variety of tree species, predominantly oak and maple. This woodland serves as a valuable refuge for a variety of wildlife including deer, raccoon, fox, turkeys, ruffed grouse, and many species of songbirds.
Looking out over
the Maquoketa River.

RECREATION: There are many beautiful places for that family picnic. Several open shelters and an auditorium may be reserved through the park office. The park also has 21 miles of hiking and multi-use trails. Visitors can hike along trails winding through old twisted and windblown cedars and up rough, rocky staircases. During the winter, visitors can cross-country ski and snowmobile. Bicyclists can pedal through scenic splendor and explore the park on these designated trails: Barred Owl, Bluebird, East Lake, and West Lake. Mountain bikers must stay on the trails. Climbers and rappellers will find many challenging cliffs of rugged dolomite limestone throughout the park. The most popular rock escarpments to climb are located near the Backbone Trail. Climbers and rappellers must register at the park office.

CAMPING: There are 127 campsites located in two campgrounds. The South Lake Campground contains 77 non-electric and 23 electric sites. Two shower buildings, a playground, and dump station are located here. The Six Pine Campground, near the west entrance of the park, contains 27 non-electric sites and provides pit latrines. Camping is always a first-come, first-served basis. We ask that all campers self-register at the campground within 1/2 hour of arrival. There is a nightly fee for each campsite. Registration forms are provided at the campground entrance. One tent, or unit, is allowed at each site with up to six persons. We do not have facilities for group camping; however, we do try to accommodate organized youth groups such as 4-H and Scouts. Please contact us regarding your needs in this area.

CABINS: The park also has cabins for the family which are equipped with heating and air conditioning. There are two styles of cabins. Eight small one-bedroom cabins, which were built by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) and are on the National Historic Register, and four newer two-bedroom style cabins, which are available year round. The one-bedroom style cabins are available only from May through October. All cabins are equipped with a kitchenette. Renters must provide their own bedding and dinnerware. The cabins are available on a reservations basis through the park concessionaire at (319) 933-6809 or to: Peterman Ltd., PO Box 424, Strawberry Point, Iowa 52076.

The old cabins built by the CCC.

The newer modern cabins.

FISHING: Backbone is well known for trout fishing in its cold, clear, quick-flowing stream. Richmond Springs, the source that feeds the stream, pumps out over 2000 gallons per minute and is located near the north end of the park. The trout streams are stocked three times a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day and once a week after Labor Day holiday. From late October until April 1 no stocking occurs. To trout fish in Iowa you need to purchase a Trout Stamp. You can get a Trout Stamp at the Park Office, the Manchester Hatchery and most places that sell fishing licenses.

Backbone Beach
The beach area is located about 3 miles from Dundee. Go swimming, fishing, picnic or just enjoy nature at its best.
Beach area.

At the boathouse, rent a canoe or a paddleboat.
The boathouse.

The old shower/locker room building has been renovated into a new recreational building with restrooms and a concession stand. The room can be rented for family gatherings, wedding receptions or group events.
Concession stand and recreation hall.

When you need to get away from the hectic day-to-day routine, come by and spend a day or two with us, where it's peaceful and quiet.

...And don't forget your fishing pole!

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This page created by Dundee's own
Lisa Guenther-Rhoades

Last Modified: 01/01/01