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Last Minute Cabin Rentals: If you are unable to reserve a cabin online because the reservation window has closed, you must call the Backbone Concessionaire at 563-933-2273 regarding cabin availability. All last minute cabin rentals are handled by park concessionaire and should be done prior to arriving at the park.

Backbone State Park, IA

Status: Open year round.   Season Dates
Max reservation window: Wed Oct 07 2015   Later Dates


Backbone State Park was dedicated in 1920. It was Iowa's first state park and remains one of the most geographically unique. Backbone is named for the steep and narrow ridge of bedrock cut by a loop of the Maquoketa River and forming the highest point in northeast Iowa - the Devil's Backbone. If you enjoy bicycling, boating, camping, climbing, fishing, hiking, picknicking or if you want to take a walk back in time to the days of the Civilian Conservation Corps, this is the place for you.

Take some time to investigate the unique masonry work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), including dams on the Maquoketa River forming Backbone Lake, a cluster of rustic family cabins, beach building and boat house, an auditorium, bridges, roads, picnic shelters, restrooms and trails. In addition, take a nostalgic walk back in time by visiting the CCC Museum located just within the park's west gate. The museum is open on weekends, Memorial Day through Labor Day and by special arrangement through the park office.


While visiting, take advantage of the rugged and winding 21-mile multi-use trail system. During warmer weather, hike along twisted and windblown cedars and up rough, rocky staircases. In the winter, take advantage of the exclusive snowmobiling and /or cross-country skiing opportunities the trails offer.
If mountain biking is your pleasure, the designated trails of Barred Owl, Bluebird, East Lake and West Lake offer a robust trek through picturesque natural beauty.

Rock Climbing
Climbers and rappellers will find many challenges at Backbone with its cliffs of rugged dolomite limestone throughout the park. The most popular climbing spots are located near the popular Backbone Trail. Climbers must register at the park office.

The Northeast State Park Bike Route is a 130 mile route which connects Backbone State Park, Wapsipinicon State Park, and Pikes Peak State Park utilizing county highways.

If trout fishing is your passion, you're in the right place. Backbone is well known for its exceptional trout fishing. Backbone's cold, clear, quick-flowing stream is fed by Richmond Springs, which pumps more than 2,000 gallons per minute and is located near the north end of the park. A variety of shady and universally accessible trails (portions paved) are available for enthusiastic anglers looking for their "secret spot." Only electric trolling motors are allowed on the lake.


Backbone is a great vacation destination with several overnight accommodation options, including several campsites, within two campgrounds, and many different modern cabins to reserve. A boathouse for renting boats and a swimming beach as well as a concession stand are all located near the southeast end of the lake.

Modern two-bedroom and one-bedroom cabins are available and are equipped with heating and air conditioning.

There are two campgrounds. The South Lake Campground, which contains both electric and non-electric sites as well as two shower buildings, a playground and a dump station and the Six Pine Campground, near the west entrance of the park, contains non-electric sites and pit latrines.

Backbone is a beautiful place for a family picnic. Several open shelters and the auditorium may be reserved. Constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Stone Lodge, overlooking the lake, may be rented for a number of events including family reunions, weddings and other large gatherings.

Nearby Attractions:

Backbone State Park is located three miles south of Strawberry Point in northwestern Delaware County. Dundee lies one mile to the south and Lamont 5 miles to the west.

Services & Amenities:

Within Facility
  • Bait
  • Bird Watching
  • Boat Launch Ramp
  • Boat Rental
  • Cabins
  • Canoeing
  • Concession
  • Dump Station
  • Firewood Sales
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Modern Restroom
  • Mountain Biking
  • Museum
  • Park Office
  • Parking
  • Playground
  • River
  • Rock Climbing
  • Showers
  • Snowmobiling
  • Swimming - Beach
  • Toilet, Pit/Vault
  • Trash Dumpster
  • Water Hydrants
  • Wildlife Viewing
Less Than 1 Mile
  • Hunting
Greater Than 1 Mile
  • Golf
  • Motel
  • Town
Within 10 Miles
Greater Than 10 Miles
  • Hospital
  • Medical Clinic
Alerts and Important Information
Park staff generally try to have the water on and shower buildings open by mid April. Park staff generally start closing down shower buildings and turning off water around mid-October. If you are interested in camping this park and wish to know if the shower buildings are open and the water is on, please contact the park directly.

Getting There:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
42.61583, -91.55944
42°36'57"N, 91°33'34"W

To the South Gate Entrance South Lake Campground, Cabins, Beach, Office 1.3 miles north out of Dundee on W69.

To East Gate Entrance Backbone trail head and picnic area's 1.5 miles north on W69 from South Gate Entrance.

To the West Gate Entrance Six Pines Campground, CCC Museum and picnic areas take 187 North from Hwy 20 to C57, Take C57 5 miles East to park entrance.

North Gate Entrance Richmond Springs, Auditorium and picnic areas take Hwy 3 East from Strawberry Point. Go North on W68 to North Gate Approximately 2 miles.

Contact Information:

Mailing Address:

Backbone State Park
1282 120th St
Strawberry Point  IA  52076

Phone Number:

Information:  (563) 924-2000
Walk-in cabin rental questions should be directed to the park concession operator Kelly Peterman at 563/933-2273.