Friends of Mines of Spain

The Friends of the Mines of Spain has assisted in providing education and interpretive programs for the public, assisted in keeping the E. B. Lyons Center open, in trail construction, habitat improvement, developing displays and exhibits and hosting various Seminars and winter programs.

The video above is a piece on Mines of Spain from Iowa PBS that aired on the Iowa Outdoors program.
It was once a mineral oasis, where Julien Dubuque settled more than 200 years ago. Now, the scenic Mines of Spain area along the Mississippi River is an outdoor recreation destination and a place where area youth are experiencing the outdoors and learning to canoe.

Mines of Spain State Recreation Area

The 1432 acres which make up the Mines of Spain State Recreation area include a variety of interesting land forms, plant species and communities, animals and water types. A large portion of the area is rugged, wooded Mississippi River Bluff-land. While much of the original timber along the Mississippi River was logged off during the steamboat era (1865-1880), portions of the Mines of Spain area were left untouched, leaving us with burr oak trees today that are over 250 years old.

Portions of the park have seen diverse use over the years cattle grazing, row cropping, logging, and mining and quarrying. Other portions remain much as they were when Julien Dubuque arrived in 1785.

The Mines of Spain area was designated as one of Iowa’s “Watchable Wildlife Areas,” and with good cause. Rare species, including the bobcat, red-shouldered hawk, flying squirrel, and bald eagle have all been on the area. In addition, the area is home to a large variety of songbirds, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and numerous small mammals. With wetlands, creeks, forests, prairies, cropland, meadows, and the Mississippi River, the Mines of Spain offers a wide variety of Iowa’s natural world for those who take the time to look and listen.

The constantly changing 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 Junkermann farm site are just some of the many attractions at the Center. The E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center is open year-round. During the summer season, special programs can be scheduled with the park manager.

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 Area.

There is a canoe landing with a dock (seasonal) at the mouth of Catfish Creek near the Mississippi River.

Hiking and cross-country ski trails are available at the Mines of Spain. Check with the park manager for cross-country ski routes, from the interpretive center to the south end of the recreation area. Four miles of ski trails and 12 miles of hiking trails are maintained. 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 overlooks, and to enjoy a hike through forests and prairie. Some of the trails are steep and challenging.

The Mines of Spain offers a fine setting for a family or company picnic. Visitors can enjoy the outdoors, experience the E.B. Lyons Center, hike the many trails and enjoy the natural vistas at the park. Picnicking facilities are available at the Center, the Julien Dubuque
Monument, and the Horseshoe Bluff Area.

There is no camping in the Mines of Spain, park closes at 10:30pm.

The Mines of Spain is a wildlife management area that allows trapping and archery hunting for all seasons. Limited shotgun hunting for deer (regular gun season in early December) and spring turkey hunting (first season in mid April) is allowed south of Catfish Creek. Call the park manager for details.

The park offers a wide range of interpretive opportunities. Self-guided nature trails, a wildlife blind and signs educate visitors that tour the park. A Junior Naturalist program is available for families and kids to explore and learn about the history and nature of the Mines of Spain. Information can be obtained at the interpretive center.

The 1432-acre recreation area is located along the southern edge of Dubuque. The eastern boundary is formed by the Mississippi River. Access to the Mines of Spain and E.B. Lyons is off Hwy. 52 South, which intersects with Hwy. 61/151 on the south side of Dubuque.

The park is open year-round, with park hours of 4 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. The EB Lyons Interpretive center is open year-round with limited hours. Dubuque County Conservation and volunteers of the Friends of Mines of Spain maintain Interpretive Center hours of  7-3:30 Monday-Friday, Saturday – Sunday 10-2. Watch our Facebook page for weather related closures

Dogs are allowed, but need to be on a leash at all times that is no longer than 6 feet long.