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“Can't Wait To Go Back!”

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Cape Henlopen State Park Campground
Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, United States
Level 4 Contributor
16 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Can't Wait To Go Back!”
Reviewed 16 September 2013

I don't even know where to begin. This was our first family camping trip with our kids 5 and 1. We wanted to go camping and have the beach all in one trip. THIS IS YOUR PLACE! We loved so much about this place so I will try to cover it all.

We stayed at campsite #24- which would have been super tight quarters had the neighboring campsite actually been used - the site "on top" of us was an auxiliary site-whatever that means- and you cannot actually book this site online- so technically our spot was 2 spots. Otherwise I'd have to say the sites are pretty small compared to what we're used to here in PA and very close to the sites on each side of you but I feel like this did not hamper our experience at all. The reservations system online describes many of the campsites as sunny or unshaded and I feel that from what I observed every campsite was surrounded in enough trees to provide shade. You did get a campsite that has a fire ring that has a grate you can flip down for cooking over half of the ring or flip up for having a full open fire. There is a water spigot at the top of your site, near where you'd park your vehicle. There is a huge space designated for your car or RV. Most of the campsites slope downwards, it didn't really bother or affect us (except the little one) but just something to keep in mind.

I felt I was able to fully prepare for this trip due to the very helpful people on TripAdvisor alone! What they say about the bathrooms...welll they aren't great but it could be worse. The issue with the bathroom is, especially if you have young children like us, you WILL wait no matter what time of day or night you attempt the bathroom- if you are going to the ladies room. You will stand in a line that goes out the door for both the bathroom stalls and the shower stalls. The reason being- if the campground is at full capacity- and it will be during the summer- you have 2 bathrooms in the whole campground to accommodate 100's of people. The bathrooms themselves only have THREE stalls each. YES you read that correctly 6 stalls for us ladies to split between a ton of people. Now I found myself wondering why people were making such a big deal about bathrooms at a campground in these reviews- I mean what do you expect? You're out in nature! But after the experience I would say this is the one thing the park just did not do a good job on. My suggestion is one more building- even implementing some porta-potties would alleviate the issue. As far as the cleanliness goes-some staff def visited this once or twice to clean it but it is because of the campers that they get so gross. And yes they are bugs galore but again what do you expect? The showers- also only 3 stalls- were gross but i'm really grossed out by showering in anything but a pristine condition so i'm a little finicky about it. The water goes hot and cold every few seconds so it will not be a rewarding shower I tell you that. But I've had worse camping showers. Its the kind of shower where you have to use one hand to push a button to keep the water flowing, if you take your hand off- the water stops. Requires a good use of force too. Needless to say it def ensures no one is taking their sweet time in there. Also-unless you plan well you could have a decent walk to the bathroom.

When you arrive to check in you have to pull over to the side get out and deal with someone at the window- we had a lady that was just so nice and loved her job. And she talked and talked and talked. They give you these maps that are completely useless. You will spend an entire day just trying to figure out what is where because the maps are limited in detail and there is so many places you can go. This little post has bags of ice for sale 16 lb bags $4 and 8lb bags $2 and it sells bundles of firewood for the price of your firstborn child! You literally will pay $6 per every fire you build. One bundle is large enough for only one fire. It could really break the budget vacation you've been planning. And dont even think about going to walmart or lowes or home depot in town because they all charge that-yeah we tried. There will be no wood or anything for you to burn at the campsite. You will not be able to wander into the woods and get yourself anything either. Trust me. They do have a camp store but it is not conveniently located anywhere near the campers. It's really a store that is geared towards all the fishers on the pier but its there. I haven't the slightest clue what you could get in there because we never went in. I do know you can't get milk. What I did do was drive about 5 mins out of the park and find a convenience store immediately. And a great ice cream place with a ton of flavor choices and toppings!

This park is huge. Everything is really close if you have a bike. Seriously I have no clue how people vacation here without having a bike. In general every single person there has a bike to get around because it is otherwise impossible with the heat and the bugs and the fact that you need things and/or want to get on with your day. With that said -everything is literally a hop skip and an awesome scenery filled quick bike ride away. This was the highlight of my summer. Getting out in nature on a bike- feeling like we were accessing something you could only be privy to with bikes. That's because the park has carved out beautifully paved bike paths to get you everywhere! We rented our bikes from the only bike place I came across (next to the convenience store) Lewes CycleSport (I think?). We rented an adult male bike and adult female bike and a trailer thing to pull our littles ones. It cost us $130 for the week. Might I suggest you get to this as soon as you arrive in DE- before you even set up camp because they seem to not want to deliver if they want to go home, and they take half a day to get your delivery to you! Get your money's worth and get your bikes ASAP first thing in the morning and you will have them by 1pm or so. You can choose to haul the bikes to the campground yourself if you're equipped with a truck. They will not deliver your bikes if you rent under 3 days time. That is just an experience you cannot miss. If we did not rent those bikes I don't think our experience could have been as good as it was. Where can you go on your bike?

The beach! Oh so clean and beautiful and whatever beaches we kept ending up on- uncrowded. I got my drink on at the beach with no issue. Once you find them you'll never wanna leave. Theres a lovely playground- brand new- that we did not get to use because I felt it would melt my children in that kind of heat as the entire playground provides zero shade. I kept telling myself I would take them as the sun started to droop but let's be honest- we all know that camp cooking takes some prep time! The Nature Center is just one of those things you don't really rely on for a trip but then realize how lucky you are to be staying at a place with it. It's a small little building and inside you will find souvenirs that are not too expensive ( I didnt get any! spent our extra money on ice and wood!) and 5 large aquarium tanks with creatures in there that the kids loved to look at. There's a touch tank too! They can touch the ever famous horseshoe crabs right in the water. The kids LOVED this. Its air conditioned so its a nice little break from the heat/your bike journey. Here you can access the seaside nature trail. I shoudl point out they had a few different walking trails that we did not get the opportunity to do (really would have loved to) because of our kids. Our 5 year old complains after walking a block and we didn't have a hiking pack for our 1 year old. For our next visit we'd like to accomplish a trail at least. You can also borrow a bike from the bike shed at the Nature center- for free! The only drawback is the 2 hour limit. I hate being rushed and I'd hate to have to be on a constant time limit so this is why we chose to pay for bikes.

To our dismay, we came upon the bayside entrance nearest "the point" too late in our day/trip. We wished we'd found it from day one so we could have visited it every day. We were really bummed when we found out that we could not walk the point due to the nesting of a rare bird species. I have a feeling those birds are there to stay so do not expect to make this trek either.We watched the sunset with our kids here and it was the most beautiful moment ever. And we had it all to ourselves for about 7 minutes until the rest of the people who had also realized how opportunistic this place was had arrived.

I know i'm forgetting 100s of mentionable things about this wonderful piece of paradise! I would go back happily, bugs and bathroom included!

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
14 Thank Kerri M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Pennsylvania
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 September 2013

We spent a long weekend camping in our hybrid travel trailer at Cape Henelopen campground Sep 6th-9th, 2013. Large groups of party goers are not encouraged at the campground, but rather this is the perfect place for families or people just looking to get away from it all and relax. I wouldn't recommended Cape Henlopen Campground for those looking to drink numerous cases of beer and party with a group loud and boisterous buddies. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I've been there & done it, this just isn't the place for it.

This place is great with something to see or do at every turn. Whether you are a history buff or just a lover of nature, you will find your home away from home here. As soon as you make the right turn into the park you are surrounded by a thick forest of scrub pines, sea grass, and wild flowers. This State Park & Campground is located on an old military fort and much still remains from the WWII era including observation towers, big guns, and many old ammunition bunkers or "igloos" right underneath the tent camping area. One of the observation towers is open to climb and periodically there are tours of the old bunker at the scenic overlook called battery 519 so keep an eye on park events for tour dates and times. We took advantage of all that we could in our short stay, but we could have stayed longer! Be sure to bring your camera, bike, and hiking shoes. There is a terrific 3+ mile bike loop around the park from which you can jump on and off of to see other things like the towers, many areas for public beach access and photo opportunities (bay and ocean), scenic overlooks, walking trails, the nature center, fort miles, and much more...all of this on your bike, no vehicle needed! Besides the bike loop, there are numerous walking trails and non-paved bike paths to try.

The sites in the campground all appeared to have some shade depending on the time of day and the location of the sun. We were able to find a shady nook to put our screen tent and picnic table, but our camper was in full sun all day since you have to keep it on the parking pad. This was not a big deal since we were barely in the camper during the day and it cooled down so nice at night to make for good sleeping temperatures. Many of the sites are close together and only a few appeared to have some cover in between each site to add privacy like ours did. So although we couldn't really see the people next to us, we could hear them. But, this is why the 10pm quiet time rule is strictly enforced and generally adhered to by campers. It was quite nice to enjoy the peace and quite just after 10. The sky was perfectly clear with so many stars, the tree frogs were peeping, and if you listened closely you could hear the waves crashing on the beach from about a mile away. There is also one other noise at night which I was not able to identify which sounded like the low frequency hum or rumble of a ship engine in the distance, but sadly I think it may have been the sounds of the non-stop churning out of pharmaceuticals from the plant just outside of the park entrance. :( But, you can still pretend it's just a ship passing by!

Another very small complaint I would have is that people are apparently allowed to come and go at any hour of the night. The nice man that checked us in at the little booth at the campground entrance said that if there is anything that we needed, even at 3am, that someone would be in that booth. So I guess this means that people are coming and going in the middle of the night or maybe driving to and from the 24 hour fishing pier? Either way, if you have a hybrid trailer or a pop-up camper and you are sleeping in a canvas bed at the side of the road, be prepared to hear vehicles passing right by your pillow at 3am and bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper because this WILL wake you up.

The bathhouse: Since we used the bathroom facilities in our camper, I can only review the showers in the bathhouse. The campground was at full capacity on Saturday night and then thinned out a bit on Sunday. I used the shower Sat & Sun evening at dusk (about 7:30-8:30 pm) and neither time did I have to wait for a shower...just walked right in. The showers are push button which is typical of state parks to conserve water, but thankfully there is great pressure and the water is warm and it just gets warmer the longer you are in there. The downside is that there is no locking door only a thin little curtain between you and anyone walking by the stall, so shower in your bathing suit if that makes uncomfortable. Also, there is really no dry place to put your clothing or towel so bring your stuff in a plastic grocery bag that you can hang in the shower stall. Bring your soap in a dish as you will not want to set it down anywhere in the shower, ewww! Wear your flip-flops as you may not want to touch the floor in the shower stall. The showers all appeared to be in working order and not in bad shape for the usage they get...I don't think they need to be upgraded, and I have seen worse (in private and more expensive campgrounds no less). But, I do think the walls in the shower stalls desperately need a power washing and some bleach as they are very mildewed. Other than that, you can get yourself clean in there and that is what's important! (see attached bathhouse photos)

The beaches: If you have small children, the calm and clear waters of the bay are the perfect place to spend the day and I would recommend accessing the bay near Point Comfort Station. For the little ones, the water is very shallow here with sand bars to explore and thousands of tiny hermits crabs to learn about right underneath your feet. For the ocean beach, if you like crowds, try the beach access next to public bathhouse and food concession. If you prefer less crowds, go down the bike trail a bit to find a much quieter spot on the beach right across from the pinelands nature trail.

To address some comments by other reviewers, the services are not poor in this campground, they are actually quite good, but I guess this all depends on your perspective. Every park employee I ran into was very knowledgeable, kind, and helpful with all of my questions. Never once was the park ranger a "bother" to us. The dumpster appeared to be emptied very often, if not daily, so they are not stinking up the campground. We saw the dumpster being emptied Sat & Mon morning, so I am not sure, but I assume this happens every day with the exception of Sunday. The Campground is spotless & free of trash and debris, so someone is doing a wonderful job maintaining the grounds. There is ice and firewood ($6) available for purchase around the clock. Please keep in mind when considering Cape Henlopen Campground that this is not an RV resort, it is a state park. There is no pool, no camp store, and no "conveniences". It is for camping so the focus here is on the natural surroundings and their goal is to keep it that way, NATURAL! It can get hot, but I don't believe that the campground has any control on whether there is a breeze in your tent or not. My suggestion would be to camp in cooler weather or bring a battery powered fan if you don't like to be uncomfortable. The water at the beach is not brown, it is beautiful and clear. Sometimes the power of the waves kick up the sand and create a brief cloudy appearence. There are no trash cans on this lovely natural beach (eww, why would there be). You are encouraged to leave only footprints which is why they provide free, again that's FREE, plastic shopping bags for you to haul your trash away with you.

All in all, Cape Henlopen is a wonderful place to visit and the campground is just a perk so that you can spend the night and get and earlier start to your busy day in the morning. If you don't like people, are not the outdoorsy type, or if you consider it too much work to push a button to keep the shower on, then this is not the place for you. To enjoy less crowds, I definitely recommend going during the week in the off season, it's super quiet and the campground, beaches, and trails are near empty. Don't go to Cape henlopen focused on just one thing (like just the beach or just the campground) or you may be more prone to disappointment. Cape Henlopen is a package deal and it is not one thing that makes it great but rather everything put together that will make your time here memorable.

For the unforgettable camping and outdoor experience I give cape Henlopen 5 stars! Oh and perfect weather didn't hurt either!

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank Happy_PA_traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Montreal, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 September 2013 via mobile

I'll start with the good part, we stayed on site 42 for 3 nights, very large campsite, lots of space to spread out and not crowd your neighbors. Services are very poor here, washrooms filthy, not enough of them, long walk to get to them, 3 showers for a very large campground is not nearly enough! Located in wooded area about half a mile from the beach and seems hotter here than anywhere else we went in the area, roasted in our tent, not even the slightest draft! Our lasting memory will be the fade spots on our clothes from bleach left behind in the shower rooms by the cleaning crews sloppy work! Will not be camping here again!

Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
Helpful?
1 Thank newfiezombie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers are raving about these Lewes hotels

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 August 2013

My family and I just returned from two nights of camping at Cape Henlopen. We had a wonderful getaway and enjoyed the many biking paths, nature center, children's programs, wildlife, proximity to Rehoboth Beach for games/rides/restaurants, and the quiet of the campground. Although there are many families, the campground is silent after 10. A few tips:

- Our site (#12) and the two on either side (#11 and #13) were listed as shaded but were only party shaded for part of the day and unshaded for the rest of the day.
- Sites on the perimeter are larger and provide more privacy. Some of the sites on the center strips seemed a bit close together.
- Bathrooms can be crowded at peak hours (9-10 am, and around 6-8 pm).
- The beach is a short walk from the campsite through a WWII military camp and down a wooded path. If you have a lot of gear, consider bringing a wagon. You can also bike almost all of the way there and walk across the dunes.
- The beach closest to the campsite does not have lifeguards but is wide open and peaceful. We opted to to sit closer to the lifeguards (and bathrooms/concessions) where it was more crowded.
- Bring your bikes! Campers bike all over the park. Free bikes are available in 2 hour shifts from 9-4.
- Go to the nature center to check activities and book in advance as many fill up. My 8 year old enjoyed a class on WWII targeting and we would have taken advantage of ghost crab walks, kayaking, and dolphin watching had we more time.
- The rangers are great. We had a visit from a fox, told the gentleman at the check-in booth, and had two visits from a ranger checking to make sure the campsite are surrounding area was clear.

Room Tip: Sites 11, 12, and 13 lack shade. Perimeter site are more private.
See more room tips
  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Bleuu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 July 2013

So my husband and children drove four hours from
NYC to see the Delaware beaches for the first time. We live within 30 minutes of the best Jersey Shore beaches but wanted to see something different. But what a disappointment! I dragged my family there to have them
spend a total of eight minutes on a super super crowded beach with brown beach water! Yes, the water was brown. The restrooms were the most disgusting restrooms I have ever been too. The must disgusting portable toilet in MetLife Stadium was cleaner. There were flies all over the bathroom. It was so bad my three year daughter refused to use the facilities. My husband and son had a similar experience in the men's room. My husband and son refused to use the facilities. My son said he rather go in the beach water which he did. My husband waited 6 hours to use another restroom because he refused to
use the restroom at Henlopen. We could not wait to get out of there. There were no garbage cans anywhere. We did not even attempt to visit Rehoboth Beach because the traffic was insane!!! I will never return.

  • Stayed July 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank franjaz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Maryland
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 July 2013

Great location. Great location. The park is beautiful. Lots to see, short walk from campground to a fairly secluded beach. Trails were not all that well marked.

The campground itself. My main gripe is that the rest rooms/shower facilities are way too small for the number of campsites there. Our site was on the perimeter, was large, clean and felt pretty private. It appears that the interior sites are right on top of each other but well shaded, the perimeter sites larger, more secluded but sunny.

  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank gr8ful_ken
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fallston, Maryland, United States
Level 3 Contributor
23 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 June 2013 via mobile

Stayed for three nights in our trailer. The site was nice- good size, decent shade, close to bath-houses. Our only complaint was the "grill" consisted of a grate over the fire pit which was fairly uncomfortable to squat down to cook on. We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of Mosquitos, don't get me wrong, there were some, and plenty of flies, but considering the wet weather we had prior to our trip, we expected swarms!
The bath- houses were decent, better than many I had been to, and we rarely had to wait. One day we had to provide our own TP but not that big of a deal!
There need to be more dumpsters - by Thursday morning they were overflowing and stayed that way until Friday morning.
The park was really cool. Lots of things to do and see. I wish they would have provided some sort of information sheet upon check in regarding the activities Ar the nature center, and the sights in the park. We only knew of them by reading other reviews here.
No nasty park rangers encountered by us either!

  • Stayed June 2013
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
Helpful?
3 Thank Tricia N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Cape Henlopen State Park Campground

Property: Cape Henlopen State Park Campground
Address: 42 Cape Henlopen Dr, Lewes, DE 19958-1168
Region: United States > Delaware > Lewes
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Speciality Lodging in Lewes
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 139
Also Known As:
Cape Henlopen State Park Campground Hotel Lewes
Cape Henlopen State Park Campground Lewes, Delaware

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