If camping at the beach is your idea of a perfect vacation, then you will want to know about Cape Henlopen, Delaware.
In 1682 William 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." Cape Henlopen's strategic location at the mouth of the Delaware Bay led to its role in local shipping and 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.
With the onset of World War II, the U.S. Army established a military base at Cape Henlopen in 1941. Bunkers and gun emplacements were camouflaged among the dunes, and concrete observation towers were built along the coast to spot enemy ships. In 1964, the Department of Defense declared 543 acres of the Cape lands as surplus property. The State of Delaware accepted the property and established Cape Henlopen State Park.
You can experience the park's scenic and ever-changing landscape along the three-mile-long paved trail that loops the park. They have trails for hiking, biking or equestrian. The trails are Beach, Pinelands, Seaside, Walking Dunes, Saltmarsh Spur, Gordon's Pond and more. They loan bikes for no charge with campsite.
The Nature Center is located in the old stockade at Fort Miles. Its many exhibits and displays include five 1,000-gallon tanks with local fish, a touch tank with marine invertebrates and exhibits that explain the different habitats within the park, including a live Osprey Cam from April through August.
Lying amidst rolling dunes, in the shadow of a World War II observation tower in Cape Henlopen State Park, is Fort Miles Historical Area.
You can take a trail break and climb to the top of the World War II Observation Tower, where the 360-degree views are spectacular.
Or take a short climb to the top of a former military bunker to view the dynamic action along the Atlantic coastline.
|Experience how soldiers defended our coast during World War II.with the Fort Miles Lantern Tour.|
|World War II Games at Fort Miles, 2009|
Disc Golf is also available, and is fun for a group of mixed ages and abilities. The objective of the game is to throw the disc in the chain basket located on a pole. The number of throws to land the disc in the basket is the score for the hole. Bring your own Frisbee or buy one at the Nature Center.
Fishing, hunting and kayaking are also available.
Cape Henlopen State Park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Normal park office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. From April through October, the park office is open seven days a week. The Seaside Nature Center in Cape Henlopen State Park is open daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from September 6 through June 14, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from June 15 through September 5. The Nature is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays from December-February. The Fort Miles Historic Area grounds are open 8 a.m. to sunset daily. The Fort Miles Orientation Building is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday from April 1 through October 30. From November 1 through March 31, the Orientation Building is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Public access to Battery 519 is only through guided tours.