Picture of Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen State Park


Special Update - June 30

Limits Set for Beaches

In accordance with Gov. Carney’s goal of limiting interactions among people in Delaware’s beach areas to reduce transmission of COVID-19, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced that the following restrictions are in effect until further notice:

  • The number of vehicles allowed in Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks will be limited to approximately 60% of the parking capacity. When the 60% capacity is reached, all vehicles will be turned away until vehicle volume within the parks is reduced. Vehicle restrictions may be lifted periodically as volume levels are noticeably reduced within the parks. These limits, which will be enforced at park entrances by DNREC Natural Resources Police, will not be managed based on a “one-in, one-out” policy that would encourage lines of waiting vehicles and people.
  • At Cape Henlopen, when the main gate is closed to additional vehicles based on parking lot capacity, the closure will include vehicles that have arrived at the park for drive-on surf fishing as well.
  • At Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island surf fishing beaches, NRP officers will monitor the number of vehicles on the beach and will close drive-on beach entrances if vehicles fail to maintain the 20-foot distance between vehicles currently mandated by the Governor’s emergency order.
  • Masks or face coverings are required in bathhouse and concession areas of all three parks and strongly encouraged on the beach as well.
  • Campgrounds and cabin rentals will continue.

Find Your Adventure at Cape Henlopen

The Point at Cape Henlopen State Park

Visit The Point Overlook

See where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, and experience the Point, a great place for viewing birds, dolphins, seals, and more. You’ll also see both the East End Breakwater and the Harbor of Refuge lighthouses. In winter, visitors can hike around the Point on the bay and ocean beaches.

Fort Miles Artillery Park at Cape Henlopen State Park.

Tour the Fort Miles Historical Area

Cape Henlopen was once a World War II coastal defense site. Take a tour of Battery 519, and climb to the top of the Observation Tower to discover the roles the towers played in the operation of Fort Miles.

 

 

Bike riders at Cape Henlopen State Park

Borrow a Bike and Loop the Park

Did you know you can borrow a bike for free, thanks to the Friends of Cape Henlopen? Bike the Loop trail around the park to experience diverse ecosystems, including the maritime forests, dunes, and beach. It's a great way to experience the rich history of the park.

 

Touch tanks at the Seaside Nature Center let you experience marine life up close.

Visit the Nature Center and Touch Tank

Get up close with native marine life in the touch tank! You’ll learn about the park’s habitats and the creatures that live here. To understand more about the park, sign up for guided programs such as seining the bay, dolphin watches, or ghost crab hikes!

The fishing is great from the pier at Cape Henlopen State Park

Walk the Fishing Pier

The pier was originally built to support mine operations during World War II. Today, it offers 24-hour access to fishing in the Delaware Bay. Cast your line from the pier, or take a walk to experience the natural beauty of the Delaware Bay.

 

 

The Gordons Pond Trail takes you through a variety of habitats

Superintendent’s Pick: Gordons Pond Trail

This 3.2-mile accessible trail offers stunning views of the park’s dynamic coastal habitats, including dunes, forests, and wetlands. Hike or bike across the elevated boardwalk, and look for wildlife along the trail.

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 provided by the Friends of Cape Henlopen (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. Go to YouTube to view the Osprey cam

Nature Center Hours

Current Hours:

  • Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

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

The Borrow-A-Bike program has been suspended until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check the Friends of CHSP website for updates.

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

Spring Bird Walks

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

8:00 AM

Search the park for birds on their spring migration. Each walk will target current birding hot spots. All birding abilities welcome (we even have binoculars to borrow). For ages 10 and up with an adult. Pre-Registration is required; call 302-645-6852 to register. Free

Add to Calendar 5/11/2021 8:00:00 AM 5/11/2021 9:30:00 AM America/New_York Spring Bird Walks Search the park for birds on their spring migration. Each walk will target current birding hot spots. All birding abilities welcome (we even have binoculars to borrow). For ages 10 and up with an adult. Pre-Registration is required; call 302-645-6852 to register. Free Cape Henlopen State Park

An Evening with Horseshoe Crabs

Friday, May 14, 2021

7:00 PM

Witness one of nature's amazing scenes, as horseshoe crabs parade up and down our beaches during their nesting season. We will explore the bay beach and uncover their mysterious lives. For ages 7 and older with an adult. Pre-registration required; call 302-645-6852. $6 per person

Add to Calendar 5/14/2021 7:00:00 PM 5/14/2021 8:00:00 PM America/New_York An Evening with Horseshoe Crabs Witness one of nature's amazing scenes, as horseshoe crabs parade up and down our beaches during their nesting season. We will explore the bay beach and uncover their mysterious lives. For ages 7 and older with an adult. Pre-registration required; call 302-645-6852. $6 per person Cape Henlopen State Park

Osprey's Return!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

9:00 AM

Celebrate bird migration by discovering how and why ospreys return. We'll travel the park to observe how these raptors nest and survive. For ages 7 and older with an adult. Pre-registration required; call 302-645-6852. $3 per person

Add to Calendar 5/15/2021 9:00:00 AM 5/15/2021 10:00:00 AM America/New_York Osprey's Return! Celebrate bird migration by discovering how and why ospreys return. We'll travel the park to observe how these raptors nest and survive. For ages 7 and older with an adult. Pre-registration required; call 302-645-6852. $3 per person Cape Henlopen State Park

Insect Exploring

Saturday, May 22, 2021

9:00 AM

Antlions, hairstreaks, cow killers. Yep, all insects! Explore the park in search of these and other insects and find out why we need them. For ages 5 and older with an adult. Pre-registration required; call 302-645-6852. $3 per person

Add to Calendar 5/22/2021 9:00:00 AM 5/22/2021 10:00:00 AM America/New_York Insect Exploring Antlions, hairstreaks, cow killers. Yep, all insects! Explore the park in search of these and other insects and find out why we need them. For ages 5 and older with an adult. Pre-registration required; call 302-645-6852. $3 per person Cape Henlopen State Park

Dolphin Watch

Saturday, May 29, 2021

9:00 AM

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 an adult. Pre-registration required; call 302-645-6852. $3 per person

Add to Calendar 5/29/2021 9:00:00 AM 5/29/2021 10:00:00 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 an adult. Pre-registration required; call 302-645-6852. $3 per person Cape Henlopen State Park

An Evening with Horseshoe Crabs

Saturday, May 29, 2021

7:00 PM

Witness one of nature's amazing scenes, as horseshoe crabs parade up and down our beaches during their nesting season. We will explore the bay beach and uncover their mysterious lives. For ages 7 and older with an adult. Pre-registration required; call 302-645-6852. $6 per person

Add to Calendar 5/29/2021 7:00:00 PM 5/29/2021 8:00:00 PM America/New_York An Evening with Horseshoe Crabs Witness one of nature's amazing scenes, as horseshoe crabs parade up and down our beaches during their nesting season. We will explore the bay beach and uncover their mysterious lives. For ages 7 and older with an adult. Pre-registration required; call 302-645-6852. $6 per person Cape Henlopen State Park

Hear Me Nature

Monday, June 14, 2021

9:00 AM

Get in touch with nature as we seek to hear, see, feel, smell and experience how plants and animals spend summer in the park.

Add to Calendar 6/14/2021 9:00:00 AM 6/18/2021 12:00:00 AM America/New_York Hear Me Nature Get in touch with nature as we seek to hear, see, feel, smell and experience how plants and animals spend summer in the park. Cape Henlopen State Park

Digging in Cape

Monday, June 21, 2021

9:00 AM

Discover some of the wildlife mysteries of Cape, as we dig into the different habitats in the park and find out what makes the coast the most.

Add to Calendar 6/21/2021 9:00:00 AM 6/25/2021 12:00:00 AM America/New_York Digging in Cape Discover some of the wildlife mysteries of Cape, as we dig into the different habitats in the park and find out what makes the coast the most. Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Explorers

Monday, June 28, 2021

9:00 AM

Take part in a week of team activities including fishing, tracking animals and seeking out the wild side of the park!

Add to Calendar 6/28/2021 9:00:00 AM 7/2/2021 12:00:00 AM America/New_York Cape Explorers Take part in a week of team activities including fishing, tracking animals and seeking out the wild side of the park! Cape Henlopen State Park

Color Me Nature

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

9:00 AM

Experience all the colors of Cape as we search the spectrum of nature’s possibilities, make colorful crafts, and play a rainbow of games

Add to Calendar 7/6/2021 9:00:00 AM 7/9/2021 12:00:00 AM America/New_York Color Me Nature Experience all the colors of Cape as we search the spectrum of nature’s possibilities, make colorful crafts, and play a rainbow of games Cape Henlopen State Park

Adventures in History

Monday, July 12, 2021

9:00 AM

Experience history from pirates to Fort Miles as we go on a quest to find the Cape of the past.

Add to Calendar 7/12/2021 9:00:00 AM 7/16/2021 12:00:00 AM America/New_York Adventures in History Experience history from pirates to Fort Miles as we go on a quest to find the Cape of the past. Cape Henlopen State Park

Grooving on Cape

Monday, July 19, 2021

9:00 AM

Have a great time at Cape discovering how plants and animals adapt to life at the coast.

Add to Calendar 7/19/2021 9:00:00 AM 7/23/2021 12:00:00 AM America/New_York Grooving on Cape Have a great time at Cape discovering how plants and animals adapt to life at the coast. Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Challenges

Monday, July 26, 2021

9:00 AM

Challenge yourself as part of a team that hunts for treasure, seeks invaders and uncovers some of Cape’s mysteries.

Add to Calendar 7/26/2021 9:00:00 AM 7/30/2021 12:00:00 AM America/New_York Cape Challenges Challenge yourself as part of a team that hunts for treasure, seeks invaders and uncovers some of Cape’s mysteries. Cape Henlopen State Park

Chilling at Cape

Monday, August 2, 2021

9:00 AM

Find out how the plants and animals of Cape beat the heat as we explore different “cool” places in the park.

Add to Calendar 8/2/2021 9:00:00 AM 8/6/2021 12:00:00 AM America/New_York Chilling at Cape Find out how the plants and animals of Cape beat the heat as we explore different “cool” places in the park. Cape Henlopen State Park

Move Me Nature

Monday, August 9, 2021

9:00 AM

Get in the groove as we seek out how nature moves by land, air and sea. We’ll keep things going with cool crafts and fun activities, too.

Add to Calendar 8/9/2021 9:00:00 AM 8/13/2021 12:00:00 AM America/New_York Move Me Nature Get in the groove as we seek out how nature moves by land, air and sea. We’ll keep things going with cool crafts and fun activities, too. Cape Henlopen State Park

Map and Directions