Cape Henlopen State Park is a beautiful destination located at the mouth of Delaware Bay. If you are planning on visiting Delaware then this state park is a must-visit for several reasons: you can walk along the stunning beaches, discover rolling sand dunes, hit up a few hiking or biking trails, and go fishing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding out on the water.
Delaware is such an underrated travel destination. I have heard so many people say things like “there is nothing to do in Delaware” or “I have only driven through Delaware”. It may be a small place but there is actually a huge diversity of natural and cultural resources to enjoy in the state.
In Delaware you can swim in Atlantic Ocean beaches, kayak through a bald cypress swamp, watch a sunset over the bay, rock climb on a natural rock wall, tour a Civil War fort, mountain bike through the forests and more! Delaware is an incredibly beautiful state with so much to explore if you take the time to explore – and Cape Henlopen is one of its crown jewels.
Working with the Delaware State Parks
I grew up in Ohio and originally never wanted to be a photographer (my current profession). I thought photography was a “lesser” art form than other mediums. Naively, I thought the camera did all of the work and the photographer just pressed the button. How wrong I was about that!
My family traveled a lot as I was growing up, so my love of travel started when I was young. My passion for photography started after I graduated college. I didn’t want to get a “real job” yet, so I took an internship at a state park in Delaware as an environmental educator. I had never been to the state of Delaware before but I had always wanted to work as a naturalist.
Before my internship started, I decided to buy a camera. I thought it would be fun to take photos of the park and landscapes. During my internship, I did just that. It was so much fun to create compositions and figure out how to capture what I was seeing. Pretty soon, I started taking photos of the programs and events that I was leading as part of my internship.
Then I asked my supervisor if I could start an Instagram for the park. He said no, but he said I could help with the Facebook page. A few weeks later, I fully took over management of the Facebook page and started posting the photos that I took. When my internship ended, I was offered a job in the marketing department for the entire state park system in Delaware.
Soon, I was managing all social media for all of Delaware State Parks and overseeing photography for the park system. I also started my own wedding photography business and worked with brands for commercial photography. Now, I photograph weddings all over the country.
I also do outdoor adventure/lifestyle photography and landscape photography. I have worked with clients such as The North Face, AllTrails, Kent County Tourism and Dakine. It’s been a wild ride and photography has truly changed my life. It’s led me to so many epic experiences, challenged me as an artist and business woman, taken me all over the world, given me a deeper appreciation for nature and allowed me to meet so many people.
My Favorite Place in Delaware – Cape Henlopen State Park
Cape Henlopen is my favorite place in Delaware. This park is cool as it’s right on the beach and has a lot of nature-based adventures as well as historical significance. The park was an important fortification to protect the Delaware Bay during WWII. You can tour the batteries and fire control towers that were once part of Fort Miles. You can also hike, surf and camp.
My favorite place in Cape Henlopen State Park is The Point. It’s a big area of dunes that forms the “cape” of the state park. The Point is the literal point that separates the Delaware Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. The sunsets are the best thing about The Point and it’s a wonderful photo op.
Because of the way the land is curved, the sun sets directly over the water on the Delaware Bay portion of The Point. Sunsets at the Point are so colorful and have this magical feel about them. I have watched countless sunsets at The Point, and they are always different and always beautiful.
Top 5 Things To Do in Cape Henlopen State Park
- Watch the sunset at The Point (see above).
- Hike or bike the Gordons Pond Trail: This trail features a boardwalk that takes you through the incredible marshland landscape of the park.
- Hike the Walking Dunes Trail: This trail is really cool because you can experience the rolling sand dunes of the park.
- Swim in the Ocean: Cape Henlopen is the perfect spot for a beach day. There are lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
- Tour Fort Miles: Fort Miles is the WWII fort at Cape Henlopen. You can walk through the artillery park and climb the observation tower on your own, or you can take a guided tour of the battery.
Need to Know Before you Go
Cape Henlopen does get crowded on the weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The park can reach capacity and close if parking lots fill. If you are planning to go during that period, I recommend that you plan to arrive at the park before 10am or after 2pm. You can also park outside of the park and rent bikes from a local shop to avoid closures due to capacity.
September is a great time to visit because you will miss the summer, but the ocean is still warm enough for swimming. I suggest starting at the nature center to learn about the park and its wildlife. If you have time, join a guided program with a naturalist. Seining the Bay is my favorite!
If you are looking for accommodation around Cape Henlopen State Park, I recommend camping at the park’s campground! The campground is really nice, especially for tent campers. If you don’t stay in the state park, I recommend finding a hotel or Airbnb in the nearby town of Lewes.
When coming to Delaware be sure to visit some of the other destinations too. I recommend visiting Trap Pond State Park for a kayaking trip. This park is home to the northernmost stand of bald cypress trees in the country. You can kayak deep into a cypress swamp. When I post photos of Trap Pond, people often don’t believe that you can see something like it in Delaware. The park offers kayak rentals and pontoon boat trips.