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Iowa's Best State Parks

Backbone State Park
This park, dedicated in 1920, is known as Iowa’s first state park.  Located near Dundee in Eastern Iowa, Backbone was named for its narrow and steep ridge of bedrock “Devil’s Backbone” carved by a loop of the Maquoketa River. Backbone is also the site of the Iowa Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, which provides visitors with a look at the work performed in Iowa state parks by the CCC from 1933 to 1941.

Ledges State Park
courtesy of Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources

Ledges State Park
Sandstone “Ledges” that rise nearly 100 feet above the Des Moines River Valley are one of the main attractions at this state park that was dedicated in 1924. Millions of visitors have explored the trails that lead up and down steep slopes to scenic overlooks and access to spectacular views of Pea’s Creek “canyon.” Located four miles south of Boone in Central Iowa, Ledges provides opportunities for camping, hiking, picnicking, fishing and canoeing.

Waubonsie State Park
It is located in the unique “Loess Hills,” a landform found only along the Missouri River in Iowa and Missouri and in China.  Named for Chief Waubonsie of the Native American Pottawattamie tribe, the park is much the same today as it was when purchased in 1926. From scenic overlooks, visitors can see hills 50 miles away and view Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and the Missouri River. Waubonsie, located near Hamburg in Southwest Iowa, is also a site on the historic Lewis and Clark Historical Trail.

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