Explore CCC History at Backbone State Park

The historic boathouse at Backbone State Park near Strawberry Point is an example of one of the CCC projects at the state’s first designated park. Photograph: Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps lives on at Backbone State Park near Strawberry Point, which boasts several structures constructed by workers in the 1930s New Deal program. A museum near the park’s west gate offers a look into the dedicated work of the CCC in Iowa parks. It’s an interesting stop within Iowa’s first state park, which was dedicated in 1920 and retains historic charm along with exceptional natural beauty.

The Backbone State Park trail system features 21 miles of hiking and multiuse trails. The Backbone Trail, which meanders along a limestone ridge, “The Devil’s Backbone,” is a short, family-friendly option that offers scenic views. In addition to hiking and cabin and tent camping in the 2,000-acre area, popular activities include fishing for trout in a stream fed by Richmond Springs, boating on Backbone Lake, and rock-climbing the park’s dolomite limestone cliffs. Climbers are required to register at the park office before traversing the bluffs. Learn more here.

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