Open: Open all year Number of Sites: 125 Number of Sites with Electric: 49
Backbone Lake is an impoundment of the Maquoketa River created by the CCC. Recreation on the lake includes swimming, boating, fishing and a concession stand for refreshments. A boat ramp is located near the southwest end of the lake. Motors are limited to electric only. A boathouse for renting boats, a swimming beach and concession stand are located near the southeast end of the lake. Anglers casting their lines in the lake may catch a variety of fish such as bass and catfish.
Backbone is well known for trout fishing in its cold, clear, quick-flowing stream.
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.
Backbone 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 to one of the highest points in northeast Iowa, the "Devil's Backbone." During winter, visitors can cross-country ski and snowmobile.
There are 125 camp sites located in two campgrounds. The South Lake Campground contains 49 non-electric sites, 49 electric sites, 2 shower buildings, a playground and a dump station. The Six Pine Campground, near the west entrance of the park, contains 27 non-electric sites and provides pit latrines. Half of the campsites are still available for self-registration on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The modern two-bedroom cabins and renovated one-bedroom cabins are available and are equipped with heating and air conditioning. The two-bedroom cabins are available year round. The one-bedroom style cabins are available April through October.
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