What to do in Cape Henlopen State Park

The 5,133-acre park contains a wealth of natural beauty. In addition to the attractive bay and ocean beaches, the Gordon's Pond Wildlife Area features a unique saltwater impoundment. Along the coast, the Great Dune rises 80 feet above sea level, and further inland, the famous "walking dunes" slowly move across the pine forests. A broad salt marsh stretches along the park's western boundary. The variety of habitats within the park makes it a valuable home to many species of birds, reptiles, and mammals. During the summer, the park protects nesting areas along the coastline for piping plovers, a threatened species of shorebird.

Cape Henlopen has always been a popular area, valuable for its natural resources as well as for commercial shipping, military defense, and recreation. The beaches attract thousands of visitors who enjoy ocean swimming and sunbathing. Two designated swimming beaches provide lifeguard patrols between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. Umbrellas can be rented during the summer. The northern swimming area also features a modern bathhouse with showers, changing rooms, and a food concession. The park's open spaces feature many other activities. A picnic pavilion and the "Officer's Club" building can both be reserved for group events. An 18-pole disc golf course encourages friendly competition, and basketball courts promote exercise that is more active. Winter hunting is permitted in some areas of the park; a hunting permit is required, and information can be obtained from the park office. Annual events such as the Kite Festival and the Halloween Spook Trail are family favorites. The park also conducts a variety of entertaining recreational programs, including the annual Shoretalk series, outdoor concerts, seaside seining, and bird-watching, to name but a few. The Seaside Nature Center offers environmental education programs and recreational activities year-round, and is a good place to stop for park information. Marine aquariums and displays there let visitors meet ocean creatures face to face. An auditorium for audio-visual programs and gift shop complete the attractions at this popular facility. Hiking trails and interpretive displays throughout the park help visitors to learn about these fascinating natural features. In addition, several WWII-era bunkers provide scenic overlooks, and one of the concrete observation towers has been renovated to provide a panoramic view of the Cape. Housed in a renovated naval training facility, the Biden Center is located right along the Atlantic Ocean providing accommodations for conferences, meetings, retreats and educational programs. Facilities include overnight dormitory-style rooms, dining room and meeting space. The center is handicapped accessible and provides space for between 30 and 80 persons.

The recreations enjoyed at Cape Henlopen include surf and pier fishing, nature hikes, family and youth camping, picnicking, attending a meeting or environmental education program in the Biden Center, swimming, playing Frisbee golf, wildlife viewing and more.

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge is located northwest of the park offering hiking, primitive camping, canoe trail, and wildlife viewing.

Cape Henlopen State Park is located one mile east of Lewes, 1/2 mile past the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal.

The Chesapeake and Delaware Bays moderate Delaware's climate. The state experiences four distinct seasons. Winter can be bitterly cold. Highs during this season average near freezing with low temperatures near 0 degrees F. Spring comes to this region in mid to late March. This is a pleasant time to visit with moderate temperatures and low humidity. Summer brings temperatures ranging from 80 to 90 degrees F. Humidity is highest inland with ocean breezes cooling the shoreline. Fall brings cooler temperatures and low humidity. The forested regions of the state often have brilliant foliage displays.

42 Cape Henlopen Drive
Lewes, DE 19958

Phone: 302-645-8983

  • Cape Henlopen State Park Travel Q&A