Iowa’s State Park System will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020. To commemorate this occasion, the organization is excited to release an anniversary book, “Iowa State Parks: A Century of Stewardship,” detailing the stories and information behind the beginnings and growth of the state park system.

A Century of Stewardship

It has been nearly 100 years since Iowa’s first state park — Backbone State Park in Delaware County in northeast Iowa — opened in 1920, sparking the beginning of one of the finest state park systems in the country. Iowa was one of the first states to provide stewardship of its natural beauty, stirring others around the nation to follow suit.

These parks, preserves and forests are essential to the mission of protecting countless species of flora and fauna, including several rare and endangered species, a wide variety of geological features, archaeology sites and iconic historic structures.

The book takes a historical look at the ecology, biology, geology, archaeology and park planning aspects of the state park system through the words of researchers and experts. You’ll also find a state park map, a state preserve map and descriptive profiles of each park throughout Iowa.


The foreword by Gerald Schnepf, the executive director of Keep Iowa Beautiful, perfectly encapsulates the childlike wonder that state parks inspire. Each page displays awe-inspiring and dazzling pictures of Iowa’s special places.

The goal of the book is to ensure all Iowans — corporations, service clubs, schools, churches, families and individuals — celebrate this milestone. Our state parks continue to be a gold standard, with 13,387,014 day visits and 902,395 overnight guests per year.

This book presents a comprehensive look at how they came to be. Learn more about the contributors by clicking here. 

Iowa State Parks: A Century of Stewardship” will  be released in the fall of 2019, but you can pre-order your copy today!