Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade V
Elevation Gain
70.00 ft (21.34 m)
0.00 mi (0.00 km)
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Backbone State Park was Iowa’s first state park and is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts. The park is home to a plethora of fun rock climbing routes on the tall limestone bluffs nicknamed Devil’s Backbone. Backbone State Park is a favorite of climbers in the area who can also take advantage of the nearby amenities.

Six Pines Trail allows for easy access to set top-rope anchors, and trad climbers will be happy to find cracks running up the length of Drive In Wall. Grades vary in difficulty from 5.7 to 5.12b with challenges for the whole climbing crew regardless of skill level.

After a long day of climbing visitors can go for a swim in Backbone Lake and settle down for the evening at the group campsite. The park is also home to modern cabins available for rental, 21 miles of hiking trails, and excellent trout fishing. The mountain biking path joins the Northeast State Park Bike Route, a 130-mile bike trail that connects Backbone State Park, Wapsipinicon State Park, and Pikes Peak State Park. Whether you’re on a day trip to climb at Backbone State Park or are staying the whole weekend to take advantage of all the outdoor activities the park has to offer, you’re sure to enjoy climbing in Iowa’s first state park!

Picnic tables, grills, restrooms, and potable water can be found a short walk from the most popular climbing area, dubbed Drive In Wall due to its close proximity to the road and south parking lot.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Easy access to routes. Picnic tables and grills nearby.


Can be busy. Technical skill and gear required.

Pets allowed


Trailhead Elevation

1,042.00 ft (317.60 m)


Rock climbing



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