Picture of Cape Henlopen State Park

CAPE HENLOPEN STATE PARK


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.

Available 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily on days when the nature center is open

Nature Preserve

Beach Plum Island Nature Preserve – Washover Barrier Spit provides the only publicly owned wild beach in Delaware incorporating dune and marsh habitat as it lies between the Delaware Bay and the Broadkill River. A portion of beachfront allows surf fishing and pedestrian use however, a majority of the Preserve is off limits to human activity for the purpose of wildlife conservation. It provides important habitat for horseshow crab spawning and shorebird feeding in the spring.

Amenities: Linear Trail on river side (pedestrian only). Parking lot, limited access to beach and Broadkill River.

Acreage: 127 acres

Upcoming Events

Dolphin Watch

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

9:30 a.m.

Bottlenose dolphins return to our waters every spring. Discover why they come back and go on a guided search from shore. For ages 5 and up with a paying adult . Limit 20. Pre-registration required by calling (302) 645-6852.

Add to Calendar 08/21/2018 09:30 AM 08/21/2018 10:30 AM America/New_York Dolphin Watch Bottlenose dolphins return to our waters every spring. Discover why they come back and go on a guided search from shore. For ages 5 and up with a paying adult . Limit 20. Pre-registration required by calling (302) 645-6852. Cape Henlopen State Park

Seining Delaware Bay

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

9 a.m.

Help collect fish and crabs with a beach seine net and discover who’s using Delaware Bay as a nursery. Dress to get wet and wear secure shoes, no flip-flops . For ages 5 and older with a paying adult. No Reservations . Tickets available at the Nature Center the day of the program with a maximum of six per person. Limit 30.

Add to Calendar 08/22/2018 09:00 AM 08/22/2018 10:00 AM America/New_York Seining Delaware Bay Help collect fish and crabs with a beach seine net and discover who’s using Delaware Bay as a nursery. Dress to get wet and wear secure shoes, no flip-flops . For ages 5 and older with a paying adult. No Reservations . Tickets available at the Nature Center the day of the program with a maximum of six per person. Limit 30. Cape Henlopen State Park

Snakes & Turtles

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

2 p.m.

Add to Calendar 08/22/2018 02:00 PM 08/22/2018 03:00 PM America/New_York Snakes & Turtles Cape Henlopen State Park

Ghost Crab Walk

Thursday, August 23, 2018

08 p.m.

Walk the bay in search of these elusive crustaceans and discover why they come out at night. Bring a flashlight to help spot them and dress for the weather! For ages 5 and up with a paying adult. Pre-registration required by call (302)645-6852.

Add to Calendar 08/23/2018 08:00 PM 08/23/2018 09:00 PM America/New_York Ghost Crab Walk Walk the bay in search of these elusive crustaceans and discover why they come out at night. Bring a flashlight to help spot them and dress for the weather! For ages 5 and up with a paying adult. Pre-registration required by call (302)645-6852. Cape Henlopen State Park

Cruise the Canal

Friday, August 24, 2018

2 p.m.

Ride the Cape Water Tours Taxi and explore Delaware State Parks like never before. Guides from both Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore State Parks will lead you on a 2-hour tour along the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, covering Fort Miles, Thompson Island Nature Preserve, and everything in between. Make your reservations online at www.capewatertours.com and be sure to sign up for the Delaware State Parks cruise.

Add to Calendar 08/24/2018 02:00 PM 08/24/2018 04:00 PM America/New_York Cruise the Canal Ride the Cape Water Tours Taxi and explore Delaware State Parks like never before. Guides from both Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore State Parks will lead you on a 2-hour tour along the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, covering Fort Miles, Thompson Island Nature Preserve, and everything in between. Make your reservations online at www.capewatertours.com and be sure to sign up for the Delaware State Parks cruise. Cape Henlopen State Park

Campfire Circle

Saturday, August 25, 2018

7:30 p.m.

Take a "guided tour" of the night through stories, songs, and other fireside activities focusing on local animals and legends. Programs meet at the campground amphitheater. See the Park's bulletin boards or call the Nature Center for weekly topics. Bring your own marshmallows and sticks for roasting afterwards! Bring folding chairs, limited seating provided. For ages 5 and up with an adult. FREE

Add to Calendar 08/25/2018 07:30 PM 08/25/2018 08:30 PM America/New_York Campfire Circle Take a "guided tour" of the night through stories, songs, and other fireside activities focusing on local animals and legends. Programs meet at the campground amphitheater. See the Park's bulletin boards or call the Nature Center for weekly topics. Bring your own marshmallows and sticks for roasting afterwards! Bring folding chairs, limited seating provided. For ages 5 and up with an adult. FREE Cape Henlopen State Park

Squid Dissection

Saturday, August 25, 2018

2 p.m.

Add to Calendar 08/25/2018 02:00 PM 08/25/2018 03:00 PM America/New_York Squid Dissection Cape Henlopen State Park

Touch Tank Creature Feature

Saturday, August 25, 2018

3:30 p.m.

Join a naturalist around the new Nature Center touch tank and learn about one of our local marine creatures, then watch as the fish get fed. For ages 5 and older with an adult. FREE

Add to Calendar 08/25/2018 03:30 PM 08/25/2018 04:00 PM America/New_York Touch Tank Creature Feature Join a naturalist around the new Nature Center touch tank and learn about one of our local marine creatures, then watch as the fish get fed. For ages 5 and older with an adult. FREE Cape Henlopen State Park

Seining Delaware Bay

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

9 a.m.

Help collect fish and crabs with a beach seine net and discover who’s using Delaware Bay as a nursery. Dress to get wet and wear secure shoes, no flip-flops . For ages 5 and older with a paying adult. No Reservations . Tickets available at the Nature Center the day of the program with a maximum of six per person. Limit 30.

Add to Calendar 08/29/2018 09:00 AM 08/29/2018 10:00 AM America/New_York Seining Delaware Bay Help collect fish and crabs with a beach seine net and discover who’s using Delaware Bay as a nursery. Dress to get wet and wear secure shoes, no flip-flops . For ages 5 and older with a paying adult. No Reservations . Tickets available at the Nature Center the day of the program with a maximum of six per person. Limit 30. Cape Henlopen State Park

Ghost Crab Walk

Thursday, August 30, 2018

08 p.m.

Walk the bay in search of these elusive crustaceans and discover why they come out at night. Bring a flashlight to help spot them and dress for the weather! For ages 5 and up with a paying adult. Pre-registration required by call (302)645-6852.

Add to Calendar 08/30/2018 08:00 PM 08/30/2018 09:00 PM America/New_York Ghost Crab Walk Walk the bay in search of these elusive crustaceans and discover why they come out at night. Bring a flashlight to help spot them and dress for the weather! For ages 5 and up with a paying adult. Pre-registration required by call (302)645-6852. Cape Henlopen State Park

Campfire Circle

Saturday, September 1, 2018

7:30 p.m.

Take a "guided tour" of the night through stories, songs, and other fireside activities focusing on local animals and legends. Programs meet at the campground amphitheater. See the Park's bulletin boards or call the Nature Center for weekly topics. Bring your own marshmallows and sticks for roasting afterwards! Bring folding chairs, limited seating provided. For ages 5 and up with an adult. FREE

Add to Calendar 09/01/2018 07:30 PM 09/01/2018 08:30 PM America/New_York Campfire Circle Take a "guided tour" of the night through stories, songs, and other fireside activities focusing on local animals and legends. Programs meet at the campground amphitheater. See the Park's bulletin boards or call the Nature Center for weekly topics. Bring your own marshmallows and sticks for roasting afterwards! Bring folding chairs, limited seating provided. For ages 5 and up with an adult. FREE Cape Henlopen State Park

Touch Tank Creature Feature

Saturday, September 1, 2018

3:30 p.m.

Join a naturalist around the new Nature Center touch tank and learn about one of our local marine creatures, then watch as the fish get fed. For ages 5 and older with an adult. FREE

Add to Calendar 09/01/2018 03:30 PM 09/01/2018 04:00 PM America/New_York Touch Tank Creature Feature Join a naturalist around the new Nature Center touch tank and learn about one of our local marine creatures, then watch as the fish get fed. For ages 5 and older with an adult. FREE Cape Henlopen State Park

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