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

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

Map and Directions