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 2,001 acres (8.10 km2), 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.
Local wildlife abound in the park and surrounding area, including fox, turkey, and deer.
Backbone State Forest is immediately adjacent to the park. It consists of 186 acres (0.75 km2) of pine forest. Horsebackriding and hunting are permitted in this reserve, but not in the park proper.
The park's administrative headquarters are in Dundee.
Read more about Backbone State Park: Iowa Civilian Conservation Corps Museum
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