Information on:

Dundee - Backbone State Park

1347 129th Street

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". Nearly a hundred years ago, State Geologist Samuel Calvin wrote these words about "The Backbone":

"Its sides are in places precipitous, the rocky cliffs rising sheer for more than 80 feet. Erosion and secular decay have carved the rocks into picturesque columns, towers, castles, battlements and flying buttresses."

Backbone consists of 2,001 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.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established in April, 1933 as part of the New Deal program of President Roosevelt as an effort to provide work for unemployed Americans during the Great Depression. Many of Backbone's buildings were constructed by the CCC from 1933 to 1941. Among the projects completed at Backbone were the dams on the Maquoketa River forming Backbone Lake, a cluster of rustic family cabins, beach and boat house, an auditorium, bridges, roads, picnic shelters, rest rooms and trails. Some of these structures are currently being restored and the effort is continuing.


Natalie Howard

Thursday, March 15, 2018
Cozy warm cabin in early spring. We will be returning. My husband and I stayed in a one room cabin for a week. We loved the full kitchen with coffee maker, refrigerator, toaster, pots, pans, etc. Plenty of space for the two of us, some board games, and home made dinners. We liked walking around the park though the trails we're still snow covered this time of year but it was a scenic area. Very few people until our last day which suited us fine. We didn't make it to the museum but enjoyed the signs describing how the CCC built the park. We will be back by ourselves and with extended family. Loved it.

Diane Riestenberg

Tuesday, March 27, 2018
This is great state park, beautiful trails, clean cabins, cozy place to stay. Came after a good snow lots of animal track. Several bald eagles lots of deer.

Brian Poppen

Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017
Never visited until this year !! I've been missing out for sure ! For Iowa, you mostly see miles and miles of farm ground ! All of these beautiful places have been tilled up. It's topography helps, Beautiful Place and we'll Definitely return next year. Well worth the drive from central Iowa. There's a lot of great areas around to see, shop, or eat !

Noah Kaumans

Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018
Every year around the beginning of February my family gets together for our annual camping trip. That used to be a Summer Event but everybody's busy so it got moved to the winter. Leave the tents at home bring your sleeping bag and pillow. Now we use the big cabins at backbone. Its Enjoyable instead of baseball and playing catch we change to sledding and snowball fights. The one constant s'mores regardless of the temperature we make them. It's always a good time get your family all in one place play cards tell stories from years past make new stories.i do suggest using the cabins at backbone for your winter camping trips.


Sunday, March 18, 2018
The scenery at this place is great! Can't wait to come back this summer when everything is green!

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