Cape Henlopen State Park
42 Cape Henlopen Dr.
Lewes, DE 19958
Phone: (302) 645-8983
Cape Henlopen State Park
is a Delaware state park on 5,193 acres on Cape Henlopen in Sussex
County, Delaware. William Penn made the beaches of Cape Henlopen one
of the first public lands established in what has become the United
States in 1682 with the declaration that Cape Henlopen would be for
"the usage of the citizens of Lewes and Sussex County."
Henlopen State Park has a 24-hour and year-round fishing pier as well
as campgrounds. The remainder of the park is only open from sunrise to
sunset, and includes a bathhouse on the Atlantic Ocean, an area for
surf-fishing, a disc golf course, and bicycle and walking paths. The
beach at Herring Point is a popular surfing spot. The park is a stop
on Delaware's Coastal Heritage Greenway.
As with all Delaware state beaches, entrance is
free during the off-season, but costs $4 for Delaware-tagged vehicles
and $8 for out of state vehicles from 1 May to 31 October. Season
passes may be purchased at a cost of $27 per in-state vehicle and $54
per out-of-state vehicle. These passes provide access to all state
beaches and parks in Delaware.
Cape Henlopen, on Delaware Bay, has long been a
public use area although it did not officially become a Delaware state
park until 1964. William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania and early
leader of Delaware, decreed that Cape Henlopen and its natural
resources be set aside for the use and enjoyment of the citizens of
the Delaware Colony. Penn's decree established Cape Henlopen as one of
the first public use parcels of land in the Thirteen Colonies.
The cape was an important strategic location for
the U.S Navy and Army during the American Revolution, War of 1812,
Civil War, and World War II. Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, the sixth
lighthouse built on the Atlantic Coast, was constructed from
1767-1769. This lighthouse was in operation until 1924 when it was
abandoned after it was extensively damaged in 1920 by a storm. The
lighthouse now rests at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean, after
falling into the water on April 13, 1926.
During World War II, the U.S. Army built Fort
Miles at Cape Henlopen. Numerous bunkers, concrete observation towers
and the pier built to accommodate the laying of mines on the harbor
floor remain today. Within the park grounds are a handful of concrete
towers from that era, as well as underground ammo bunkers which were
to be used in conjunction with the towers against the eventuality of
air attack. Off the coast on the bay side are two lighthouses: the
Harbor of Refuge Light and the Delaware Breakwater East End Light.
The beach at Cape Henlopen State Park is open
year round. There are two beaches that are open to swimming at the
park with lifeguard patrols between the Memorial and Labor Day
weekends. A modern bath house with showers, changing rooms and a snack
bar is located at the northern beach.
Cape Henlopen State Park has two facilities that
are rented out for large group gatherings, a pavilion for picnics and
the "Officer's Club" a remnant of the Fort Miles days. The
18 hole disc golf course and basketball courts are open year round.
Hunting is permitted during Delaware's designated hunting seasons in
some parts of the park. Hunters are expected to follow the rules and
regulations of the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Cape Henlopen State Park is a popular fishing
destination. Anglers may fish from the beach or from the fishing pier
on Delaware Bay. A concessionaire operates the Cape Henlopen Fishing
Center, a bait and tackle shop at the pier. It is open seven days a
week May 15 - October 1. Visitors to the park may drive onto the
beach for surf fishing after receiving a permit from the park
authorities. Access over the dunes is open to pedestrians at all
The pine covered dunes of Cape Henlopen State
Park are open to camping in some areas with over 150 campsite
available. Most sites have running water. They are available from
family camping March 1 - November 30. Reservations are required. A
primitive campground is available for use by youth groups.
There are a variety of marked nature and hiking
trails at the park, ranging from a beach to pine forests. Bicycles are
another popular way to explore the park, and rentals are available
during part of the year.
Seaside Nature Center
The park's Seaside Nature Center features marine
aquariums and natural history exhibits about the park. Environmental
education programs are offered year-round. The nature center also
contains an auditorium and a gift shop.
Programs offered include hayrides, guided nature
walks and hikes, birding trips, preschool programs, school programs
and children's vacation workshops.
- Drinking Water
- Dump Stations
- Kayak Rentals
- Laundry Facilities
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