Cape Henlopen, just 43 miles southeast of Dover, has the distinction of being one of the United States’ first public lands. Recognized for its beauty and natural features, Pennsylvania founder William Penn decreed that the area should be preserved for the enjoyment of the local citizenry. That was nearly 3.5 centuries ago. Over the course of that time, Cape Henlopen has served several purposes but has always remained accessible to the public. In 1964, it was designated a Delaware State Park. Today, the park serves as an idyllic destination where campers, hikers, anglers and nature lovers can explore and appreciate the sand dunes, pine woods and tidal marshes in the same way the Founders did so long ago.
The campground in Henlopen State Park is the perfect base to explore the area and enjoy many of the park’s attractions and activities. The campground offers a variety of tent and RV sites (many with 2-point hookups), walk-in tent sites, ADA accessible sites, and camping cabins that can accommodate up to six people. Amenities include bathhouses with showers, dump and recycling stations, a playground and an amphitheater. Camping is available from Mar. 1 through Nov. 30; seasonal campsite rates range from $20–$59/night; camping cabins range from $70–$130/night.
When it’s time to play, the sky’s the limit. Four hiking trails are available for exploring the area’s pine forests and coastal dunes, visiting bunkers and watchtowers in the Fort Miles Historic Area, or taking in views of Delaware Bay and the Henlopen Lighthouse. Stop by the Nature Center and learn about some of the local bird and sea life (bird watching guides available), or take advantage of the park’s Borrow-a-Bike program and take a pleasant ride around Cape Henlopen’s bike path. For fun on the water, take a dip in the Atlantic at one of the swimming areas, try crabbing or surf fishing, or rent kayaks and go for an ocean paddle. There’s also disc golf and sports courts available for getting your game on. With so much to see and do at Cape Henlopen, you might just need to plan a longer visit!
This was a favorite place while living on the east coast. The campground is nicely laid out for a state campground. Plenty of bike trails, places to explore, places to swim both in the bay and ocean. I love the Atlantic in the summer…way more swimable than our Pacific Ocean. I would gladly go back if I'm in the area.
We arrived at our hike-in site just after midnight and was pleasantly surprised that we were one of two groups of campers on that Thursday night. Firstly, the walk to hike in is gloriously short for car camping. We were able to schlep all of our gear in three trips. We had considered taking a wagon but I'm glad we didn't. The check in process the following day was very short, but be forewarned that if you leave the campground and return prior to getting your camping tag you may have to pay the park entrance fee (we did not but were warned).
There is sand everywhere (you are almost at the beach) so a small dustpan and brush will keep your tent tidy. The bathroom and showers are just outside the hike in parking lot, but could use an upgrade. The shower stalls don't have a private changing area, just a long bench on the opposite wall from the row of push-button showers. Also, the drain for the shower isn't in each stall so water tends to flood the area between the bench and the showers; bring a pair of shower shoes. The water pressure was good and the shower was hot. It may be a bit too much for little kids, though. As the campground is usually fully booked, it would be nice to not have to leave my clothes and glasses on a public bench while I shower (I've had my Rx glasses stolen from a campground bathroom before). This is my only reason for the 4 star review. At night, we were able to hear the waves crashing on the beach, but have no ocean views. It was very soothing and I slept like a log! The camp store has wood for purchase, and scavenging dead wood wasn't a very successful for us outside of kindling.
There are plenty of walking and biking trails, a free nature center with a touch tank (tank closed on our visit due to Covid), and historic Fort Miles.
We would definitely stay again.
The tent site was big with lots of choice locations for your tent. There is a lot of privacy between the tent sites because of the trees.
The bathrooms were clean and modern. The camp store had lots of little items that I needed. And there was a Little Library.
The hikes in the campground are beautiful. The historic aspect of the Cape amazed me. It was a site for WWII soldiers to watch for enemy invaders. The towers are still there.
The ocean is beautiful but a bit of a walk from the tent campsites.
There is so much to do near this campground. The bike trails are wonderful and we like to bring kayaks to the bay side. Also, the beach! Not exactly cheap but it really is a great spot. My one complaint is that you definitely have to book very far in advance especially for a summer weekend!
Camping in Henlopen State Park was a great idea! My group was there, on two adjacent sites, from Sunday to Tuesday, in early June. The weather could not have been more ideal! We were on sites G12 and G13, which were both really large. Here's the rundown:
- Clean, accessible bathhouses
- Really large tent sites
- So close to the beach and nearby Rehoboth and Lewes (great dining and shopping)
- Easy-burning firewood
- Access to a camp store
- A pretty quiet campground altogether
- Campground fee includes beach access so you don't have to pay again
- It's busy! Be prepared to wait to get into the park for 15-45 mins due to traffic backups at the entrance gate
- The walk to the beach is a LONG one
- The campsite as a whole is a very busy one--there's a lot going on from bike riding to frisbee throwing
Fills up fast so you have to book well in advance. Paved trails to the beach, the bay, nature center and bike trails. Clean sites and bath houses. Nice friendly staff. Nice camp store
Cape Henlopen camp sites fill up so quickly, and for good reason! After missing out on reservations year after year, this year, we booked a weekend tent site for July back in January and immediately realized the spark of this place. The campground is large with various loops full of RV, popup, and tent sites. There is also a section of walk-in tent sites, each with 1 parking spot semi close by. (Bring a wagon if you stay at one of these). We stayed in site T021 (walk-in site) and had plenty of privacy and space to set up our screen room, tent, and firepit. All camp sites come with the standard picnic table, as well as fire pit and grill grate. There is a camp store in the center of the campground where you can purchase firewood, coffee, batteries, ice or other camping needs. There are several bath houses strategically placed throughout the campground so that you can easily find one a few minute walk away no matter where you stay. Bath houses were clean, updated, well maintained and air conditioned. There are both public showers that are stall-like within some of the bath houses, as well as large private shower + bathroom stalls (perfect if you have young kids). I didn't find the bugs to be any worse than typical summer camping spots (I heard they maybe spray for bugs on the sites?) but definitely bring your spray and citronella candles. It also POURED from a small tropical storm the morning we arrived yet our site and the full campground was well and dry by the time we set up in the afternoon - looked like most of the sites were set up on hills, which is great to avoid pooling in inclement weather. Pets are allowed and there are water spigots near every site. Although our site (T021) was spacious and private, my brother's family was staying on T011 and there were about 4-5 sites all in an open space back to back with one another near his. The neighbors were friendly so no complaints but the lack of privacy there is worth nothing in case you wanted to feel more 'remote'. The sites are mostly tree lined and semi shaded by pines. The campground gets extremely dark at night and the stars are so beautiful from the lack of light pollution! The campground is in a large state park, full of many bike trails, hiking spots, historical WWII sites, fishing pier, and of course the beach. There is a separate entrance for campers so make sure to follow that when you drive in. The beach *is* walkable (maybe a mile away) but much easier /quicker to drive, and there is plenty of parking by the beach. The beach can get crowded but is clean and has lifeguards. The best part is on a quiet night, if you listen really closely, you can hear the waves crashing in the distance. Due to the nature vibe, proximity to beach, and modern bathhouses, I think this campground has become our new favorite one!
Okay, so a lot of people love this park but I just didn’t. It wasn’t close enough to beach to walk really. There was some shade but not much. The sites were very close together with a few exceptions. There were no-see-ums (little bugs) biting and no bug spray seemed to help. Loop A is the only road out of the campground so every car had to pass our site (A09). Don’t stay on A loop.
The pluses though are the bike trails which were paved, flat, and extensive. The historical Fort was cool to walk through. The downtown Lewes area is cute but masks were required even outdoors in public and it was hot. There is a ferry that goes over to Cape May, NJ. I’ve done that in the past and it’s fun! It’s close to Rehoboth Beach with every amenity you could ask for; shopping, restaurants, entertainment of all kinds, breweries and wineries. I might consider going again in the spring or fall when it’s not so hot.
My husband and I tent camped here a few times and fell in love with this place. We bought an RV this year and have been to Cape Henlopen twice already. The sites are all a good size and even though the campsite is usually always packed, everyone is super friendly and respectful of each other. People respect the rules and keep to themselves, but will wave and say hello a lot in passing. It’s a very comforting environment. The newly built bathhouses are great! They’re always clean and I’ve yet to not get a hot shower, even though they get used a lot. Best of all, the campsite is dog friendly! Our two dogs love it here - the smells, trails, the nice people, the water bowl outside of the camp store. The beaches also allow dogs, depending on the season or time of day. The trails are awesome and easy to walk or ride bikes on, with a few hills to muscle up, but it’s mostly flat terrain and paved. There’s a nature center nearby that also lets you borrow a bike for free if you didn’t bring your own. The smell of pine trees and ocean is instantly soothing. You can also ride your bike or drive to the beach, which is beautiful. The bathhouse and concession stand at the beach is very nice. Sunset on the beach is absolutely serene.
I’ve stayed at Cape Henlopen several times. We are tent campers and have stayed in both car sites and tent walk in sites. The new bath house and camp store are a great upgrade. Book reservations earlier than you would expect, this place fills quickly. Sites vary in privacy, some are more heavily wooded than others. One downside is the use of generators, they can be annoying. The location allows for hiking and beach visits plus you are close to both Lewes and Rehoboth.