Picture of Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen State Park


Reduced Lifeguarding as Students Return to School

Cape Henlopen State Park main beach will be guarded through September 5. We encourage you to use guarded beaches.

For more information, please read the press release.

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 Historic 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

Situated at the mouth of the Delaware Bay sits Cape Henlopen State Park and its 6+ miles of coastline. The “Point” of Cape Henlopen, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, shaped the history of this landscape. For millenia, native people lived off the land’s abundant and rich resources and in the late 1600s, William Penn granted the land and allowed citizens to harvest many of the same resources. The area’s strategic position led to the construction of Fort Miles during World war II with its iconic fire control towers along the Atlantic coast and, which served as a federal defensive site, training area and testing location both during and after the war. A diverse collection of habitats makes up the coastal ecosystem of Cape Henlopen State Park. Barrier dune, coastal beaches, and maritime forest are home to many species of plants and animals. Visitors can visit the Seaside Nature Center to participate in an interpretive program or learn about the park’s native plants and animals.

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 Historic 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

Visit the Seaside Nature Center page for more information.

Nature Center Hours

Current Hours:

  • Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Monday
  • Closed 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

Open Wednesday to Monday (closed Tuesday) - weather permitting, excluding holidays
10am – 3pm (last bikes out at 2pm)
Call Nature Center to confirm they are open 302-645-6852

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

Our Beach Rocks!

Saturday, February 4, 2023

1:00 PM

Search for the different rocks and minerals that make up our beach, and discover the fascinating story of how they made it to the Delaware shore! For ages 7 and up with a paying adult. Online registration ends 24 hours prior to program. After that, if space available, please call 302-645-6852. $5 per person.

Register Online

Add to Calendar 2/4/2023 1:00:00 PM 2/4/2023 2:00:00 PM America/New_York Our Beach Rocks! Search for the different rocks and minerals that make up our beach, and discover the fascinating story of how they made it to the Delaware shore! For ages 7 and up with a paying adult. Online registration ends 24 hours prior to program. After that, if space available, please call 302-645-6852. $5 per person. Cape Henlopen

Nature Puppet Show: The Tale of Howard the Horseshoe Crab

Saturday, February 11, 2023

1:00 PM

Join Howard on his journey as we learn about horseshoe crabs and how they are important to the other animals of Delaware Bay. For ages 5 and older with an adult. Space is limited, pre-registration required by calling the Nature Center at 302-645-6852. FREE

Add to Calendar 2/11/2023 1:00:00 PM 2/11/2023 1:30:00 PM America/New_York Nature Puppet Show: The Tale of Howard the Horseshoe Crab Join Howard on his journey as we learn about horseshoe crabs and how they are important to the other animals of Delaware Bay. For ages 5 and older with an adult. Space is limited, pre-registration required by calling the Nature Center at 302-645-6852. FREE Cape Henlopen

Guppy Club: Footprints in the Park

Thursday, February 16, 2023

10:30 AM

Bring your 3 to 5 year-old and search for different tracks in the sand or snow and discover what these animals do during winter. Online registration ends 24 hours prior to the program. After that, please call 302-645-6852. $5 per child

Register Online

Add to Calendar 2/16/2023 10:30:00 AM 2/16/2023 11:15:00 AM America/New_York Guppy Club: Footprints in the Park Bring your 3 to 5 year-old and search for different tracks in the sand or snow and discover what these animals do during winter. Online registration ends 24 hours prior to the program. After that, please call 302-645-6852. $5 per child Cape Henlopen

Seals at the Beach

Saturday, February 18, 2023

10:00 AM

$6 per person. Online registration ends 24 hours prior to the program. After that, please call 302-645-6852.

Register Online

Add to Calendar 2/18/2023 10:00:00 AM 2/18/2023 11:15:00 AM America/New_York Seals at the Beach $6 per person. Online registration ends 24 hours prior to the program. After that, please call 302-645-6852. Cape Henlopen

Touch Tank Creature Feature

Saturday, February 18, 2023

1:00 PM

Learn about the fish and other creatures in our touch tank while they eat their lunch in this short, interactive program. For ages 5 and up with an adult. No pre-registration required. FREE

Add to Calendar 2/18/2023 1:00:00 PM 2/18/2023 1:15:00 PM America/New_York Touch Tank Creature Feature Learn about the fish and other creatures in our touch tank while they eat their lunch in this short, interactive program. For ages 5 and up with an adult. No pre-registration required. FREE Cape Henlopen

Bird Walk

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

9:00 AM

Explore Cape Henlopen’s birding hot spots with a staff naturalist during the fall migration. Bring your own binoculars (or borrow a pair of ours), wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather. Beginner birders are welcome. For ages 10 and older with an adult. Limit 15. Pre-registration required by calling the Nature Center at 302-645-6852. FREE (with paid park entrance fee)

Add to Calendar 2/21/2023 9:00:00 AM 2/21/2023 11:00:00 AM America/New_York Bird Walk Explore Cape Henlopen’s birding hot spots with a staff naturalist during the fall migration. Bring your own binoculars (or borrow a pair of ours), wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather. Beginner birders are welcome. For ages 10 and older with an adult. Limit 15. Pre-registration required by calling the Nature Center at 302-645-6852. FREE (with paid park entrance fee) Cape Henlopen

Map and Directions