Backbone State Park was dedicated in 1920. It is Iowa's first state park and arguably remains Iowa's best state park. The park is named for its narrow and steep ridge of dolomite/limestone the "Devil's Backbone". Nearly a hundred years ago, State Geologist Samuel Calvin wrote these words about "The Backbone." Backbone consists of 2,002 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, turkey, ruffed grouse and many species of songbirds.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established in April 1933 as a part of the New Deal Program of President Roosevelt as an effort to provide work for unemployed Americans during the Great Depression. 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. Most of these structures have been restored and the effort continues.
There are 125 primitive camping sites located in two campgrounds both equipped with modern rest room facilities. If primitive camping isn't for you, there are 16 cabins, including 4 deluxe cabins. The cabins are outfitted with heating and air conditioning. The two-bedroom style family and deluxe cabins are available year round and are ADA accessible. The one-bedroom style cabins are available seasonally.
The Iowa Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Museum located just within the park's west gate. It provides visitors with an interesting and informative look at the work of the CCC. Whether you are a first time visitor to our area or an old friend, it is hoped that you, your family and friends appreciate the natural beauty; admire the handiwork of the stone and log structures created by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's; enjoy the fishing, camping, hiking, and relaxation to be found within these "Places of Quiet Beauty".