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Iowa State Parks

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USA Parks
Northeast Region
Mines of Spain State Park
Eastern Goldfinch ©
Eastern Goldfinch ©
Eastern Goldfinch
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8991 Bellevue Heights
Dubuque, Iowa   52003

Phone: 563-556-0620
Reservations: 877-427-2757
Email: park email button icon
History of the Area
The earliest known inhabitants of the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area during historical times were the Mesquakie Indians. Their village was located just south of where the Julien Dubuque Monument now stands, at the mouth of Catfish Creek. From this site, the Indians carried on a fur trade with French voyagers. They also worked the lead mines for many decades dating back to before the Revolutionary War. There is evidence of prehistoric Indian cultures, some dating back as much as 8000 years. Mounds, village sites, rock shelters, trading post sites, and campsites dot the landscape.

Dubuque is credited as being the first European to settle on what is now Iowa soil in 1788. In 1796, Dubuque received a land grant from the Governor of Spain who resided in New Orleans at the time. The grant gave permission for Julien Dubuque to work the land which was owned by Spain, and specified the 189-square mile area to be names as "Mines of Spain". Dubuque eventually married Potosa, daughter of the Mesquakie Indian Chief, Peosta. Dubuque died March 24, 1810.

Lead mining was a major part of this area's history, first by the Indians, and in later years (late 1830s through the 1850s) by European miners and farmers. The Civil War caused renewed lead mining activity which waned after the war but continued until 1914.

The Julien Dubuque Monument, built in 1897, sits high above the Mississippi River and provides the "landmark" for the Mines of Spain Area. Julien Dubuque is buried on this site which provides a scenic vista of the 1380-acre Mines of Spain, the city of Dubuque, the Mississippi River Valley and of Illinois. When Dubuque died, the Mesquakie buried him with tribal honors beneath a log mausoleum at the site where the current monument now stands.

Mines of Spain State Park is located near Dubuque
Nearby Parks

The Mines of Spain offers fine settings for a family or company picnic. Visitors can enjoy the outdoors, experience the E.B. Lyons Nature Center, hike the many trails and enjoy the natural vistas at the park. Picnicking facilities are available at the center, at the Julien Dubuque Monument, at the Horseshoe Bluff Area, at the canoe launch area, and at the south parking area.
Hiking and cross-country ski trails are available at the Mines of Spain. Four miles of ski trails are maintained, and 14 miles of hiking trails. There are five individual nature walks within the park, including those at the E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center and another at the Horseshoe Bluff Site. Other trails provide a wide range of opportunities for visitors to view Mines of Spain on old winding logging roads, to view limestone bluffs, scenic vistas, and to enjoy a hike through forests and prairie. Some of the trails are steep and challenging.
Nature Programs
E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center:

The E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center serves as a visitor information center and park office. Displays and exhibits provide information about the history and features of the park. The Betty Hauptli Bird and Butterfly Garden, native prairies, woodland flower gardens, hiking trails, and historic Junkerman farm site are just some of the many attractions at the Center. The E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center is open year-round. Programs are offered at the Center on Sunday mornings during the summer season; and special programs can be scheduled with the park ranger at other times.

Horseshoe Bluff Interpretive Area:

The geological history of the Dubuque vicinity is laid bare in this area. A thick layer of Ordovician dolomite rock has been exposed in the horseshoe-shaped quarry. In addition a 15-acre wetland with two floating trails gives access to a wildlife observation blind. Interpretive signs provide interesting insights into the geology, history and resources of the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area.

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You will feel right at home when you reach Carroll County, our corner of beautiful Northwest Illinois. The magnificent Mississippi River and outdoor spaces will refresh your spirit and touch our soul.
34 miles from park*
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