Picture of Cape Henlopen State Park

CAPE HENLOPEN STATE PARK


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About the Park

When the current lands of the state of Delaware were granted to William Penn sometime after 1682, Penn proclaimed that Cape Henlopen and its natural resources were to be for the common usage of the citizens of Lewes and Sussex County, thus establishing some of the nation's first "public lands." It has remained in the public domain ever since, playing a major role in local shipping and in the nation's military history. The historic Henlopen Lighthouse no longer helps to guide vessels through the treacherous bay waters, but the two stone "breakwaters" barriers off the point of the Cape, completed in 1869 and 1901, still form a safe harbor for boats during rough seas. As a Delaware state park, Cape Henlopen remains in the public domain.

Water, Beaches, and Trails

Cape Henlopen's beaches attract thousands of visitors who enjoy everything from ocean swimming, boating, fishing, and kayaking to clamming, paddle-boarding and wind-surfing. But Cape Henlopen offers more than just the ocean and bays. The park's premiere trails offer hiking and biking exploration.

A designated swimming beach, accessible from the Lewes entrance to the park, provides lifeguard patrols between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day (schedule may vary depending on staff availability).

Mobi-Mat equipment, consisting of three 30-foot mats allowing those in wheelchairs and power chairs to access the beach from the boardwalk, is also available at this location.

Camping and Cabins

Cape Henlopen's campground, set among pine-covered dunes, now includes 2-point hookups, 100-amp service on several sites, and sites to accommodate larger rigs. Twenty walk-in tent sites lie adjacent to the Waking Dunes Trail. Twelve camping cabins -- two-room individual cabins that offer an outdoor spigot and fire ring for cooking and share a communal bath house -- offer an economical alternative for vacationing at the beach. Visit our Reservations section for camping information and pricing.

Fort Miles Museum and Historical Area

During World War II, the Delaware River was a chief priority for defense planners because of the access it afforded to the giant trade centers of Wilmington, Philadelphia, and beyond. Fort Miles, located in what is now Cape Henlopen State Park, was a key piece of the nation's coastal defense at that time. Visit the Fort Miles page in our Attractions section for information about programs and tours.

Seaside Nature Center

The centerpiece of the newly-renovated Seaside Nature Center is a 495-gallon two-level touch tank, complete with viewing windows that allow visitors to see stingrays, horseshoe crabs and other species in the tank while they’re underwater. The nature center also features five 1,000-gallon tanks with local fish, exhibits that explain the different habitats within the park, a live Osprey cam (April through August), and a gift shop. A wide selection of activities and programs for children and adults are led by Seaside Nature Center staff each week.

Nature Center Hours

  • Mid-June through Labor Day
  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

  • Fall and Spring
  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily

  • November through March
  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday

  • Closed Monday and Tuesday

Borrow-A-Bike Program

Free bikes are available at the Seaside Nature Center on a first-come, first-served basis, weather permitting, for 2 hours at a time, Bikes must remain within the park and stay on the paved bike trail. For more information, call the nature center. The Borrow-A-Bike Program is a project of the Friends of Cape Henlopen.

Borrow-A-Bike Hours

  • Bikes available 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily on days when the nature center is open, with last rental at 2 p.m.
  • Summer only: Available until 4 p.m., with last rental at 3 p.m.

Beach Plum Island Nature Preserve

Lying between the Delaware Bay and the Broadkill River, Beach Plum Island Nature Preserve – Washover Barrier Spit provides the only publicly owned wild beach in Delaware incorporating both dune and marsh habitat. A portion of beachfront allows surf fishing and pedestrian use; however, a majority of the preserve is off limits to human activity to allow for wildlife conservation. The site provides important habitat for horseshoe crab spawning and shorebird feeding in the spring. The preserve has a pedestrian-only linear trail on the river side and a limited-access parking lot.

Upcoming Events

Starry Night: Star Gazing

Friday, January 15, 2021

6:30 PM

Winter with its cool, crisp air provides great opportunities to see the stars. Explore the night skies in search of planets, stars and constellations and hear the ancient stories about them. For ages 7 and up with a paying adult. Dress to go outside. $2 per person

Add to Calendar 1/15/2021 6:30:00 PM 1/15/2021 7:30:00 PM America/New_York Starry Night: Star Gazing Winter with its cool, crisp air provides great opportunities to see the stars. Explore the night skies in search of planets, stars and constellations and hear the ancient stories about them. For ages 7 and up with a paying adult. Dress to go outside. $2 per person Cape Henlopen State Park

Winter Bird Walks

Thursday, January 21, 2021

9:00 AM

Don’t let the cold weather freeze your bird watching. Join us once a month as we search the park for winter birds. All birding abilities welcome (we even have binoculars to borrow). For ages 10 and up with an adult. Limit 12. Pre-registration required by calling 302-645-6852. Free

Add to Calendar 1/21/2021 9:00:00 AM 1/21/2021 10:00:00 AM America/New_York Winter Bird Walks Don’t let the cold weather freeze your bird watching. Join us once a month as we search the park for winter birds. All birding abilities welcome (we even have binoculars to borrow). For ages 10 and up with an adult. Limit 12. Pre-registration required by calling 302-645-6852. Free Cape Henlopen State Park

Seals at the Beach

Saturday, January 23, 2021

10:00 AM

Stranded or just hanging out? Find out which species you may see and what these marine mammals and other wildlife are doing at beach in the winter. Dress to go outside. For ages 7 and up with an adult. $2 per person

Add to Calendar 1/23/2021 10:00:00 AM 1/23/2021 11:00:00 AM America/New_York Seals at the Beach Stranded or just hanging out? Find out which species you may see and what these marine mammals and other wildlife are doing at beach in the winter. Dress to go outside. For ages 7 and up with an adult. $2 per person Cape Henlopen State Park

Observing Nature: A Journalling Program

Saturday, January 30, 2021

10:00 AM

Discover how nature journaling can improve your observation skills, increase your mindfulness and inspire your creativity. Bring your own journal and writing utensils as we provide tips and a nature exploring experience! Dress for the weather. Ages 7 and older with a paying adult. $2 per person

Add to Calendar 1/30/2021 10:00:00 AM 1/30/2021 11:00:00 AM America/New_York Observing Nature: A Journalling Program Discover how nature journaling can improve your observation skills, increase your mindfulness and inspire your creativity. Bring your own journal and writing utensils as we provide tips and a nature exploring experience! Dress for the weather. Ages 7 and older with a paying adult. $2 per person Cape Henlopen State Park

Wild Winters!

Saturday, February 6, 2021

10:00 AM

How do local animals survive our winters? Look for and learn about the different survival strategies used by wildlife as we explore the park. Dress for the weather. Ages 7 and older with a paying adult. $2 per person

Add to Calendar 2/6/2021 10:00:00 AM 2/6/2021 11:00:00 AM America/New_York Wild Winters! How do local animals survive our winters? Look for and learn about the different survival strategies used by wildlife as we explore the park. Dress for the weather. Ages 7 and older with a paying adult. $2 per person Cape Henlopen State Park

Volunteer Trail Day

Saturday, February 13, 2021

12:00 PM

Volunteer to help maintain the park’s trails or other light maintenance projects. For further details please call the Volunteer Coordinator at 302-644-5005. Free

Add to Calendar 2/13/2021 12:00:00 PM 2/13/2021 12:00:00 PM America/New_York Volunteer Trail Day Volunteer to help maintain the park’s trails or other light maintenance projects. For further details please call the Volunteer Coordinator at 302-644-5005. Free Cape Henlopen State Park

Winter Bird Walks

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

9:00 AM

Don’t let the cold weather freeze your bird watching. Join us once a month as we search the park for winter birds. All birding abilities welcome (we even have binoculars to borrow). For ages 10 and up with an adult. Limit 12. Pre-registration required by calling 302-645-6852. Free

Add to Calendar 2/16/2021 9:00:00 AM 2/16/2021 10:00:00 AM America/New_York Winter Bird Walks Don’t let the cold weather freeze your bird watching. Join us once a month as we search the park for winter birds. All birding abilities welcome (we even have binoculars to borrow). For ages 10 and up with an adult. Limit 12. Pre-registration required by calling 302-645-6852. Free Cape Henlopen State Park

Seals at the Beach

Saturday, February 20, 2021

10:00 AM

Stranded or just hanging out? Find out which species you may see and what these marine mammals and other wildlife are doing at beach in the winter. Dress to go outside. For ages 7 and up with an adult. $2 per person

Add to Calendar 2/20/2021 10:00:00 AM 2/20/2021 11:00:00 AM America/New_York Seals at the Beach Stranded or just hanging out? Find out which species you may see and what these marine mammals and other wildlife are doing at beach in the winter. Dress to go outside. For ages 7 and up with an adult. $2 per person Cape Henlopen State Park

Snow Moon Hike

Friday, February 26, 2021

6:30 PM

Hike the park as the sun sets and the full moon of February (called the Snow Moon) rises. Find out what animals come out on winter nights and how they adapt. Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather. For ages 7 and up with paying adult. $2 per person

Add to Calendar 2/26/2021 6:30:00 PM 2/26/2021 7:30:00 PM America/New_York Snow Moon Hike Hike the park as the sun sets and the full moon of February (called the Snow Moon) rises. Find out what animals come out on winter nights and how they adapt. Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather. For ages 7 and up with paying adult. $2 per person Cape Henlopen State Park

Citizen Science at the Shore

Saturday, February 27, 2021

10:00 AM

Do science and help the beach? Yes, you can! Have fun collecting data to help make our beaches better. Dress for the weather. Ages 5 and older with a paying adult. $2 per person

Add to Calendar 2/27/2021 10:00:00 AM 2/27/2021 11:00:00 AM America/New_York Citizen Science at the Shore Do science and help the beach? Yes, you can! Have fun collecting data to help make our beaches better. Dress for the weather. Ages 5 and older with a paying adult. $2 per person Cape Henlopen State Park

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