The U.S. state of Delaware has 17 state parks, as of 2008. Each of the parks is operated and maintained by the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation, a branch of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), although one state park, First State Heritage Park, is managed by the Division of Parks and Recreation in partnership with other city and state agencies.
Each of Delaware's three counties has at least one state park, with New Castle having the most. Wilmington State Parks, despite being administratively managed as a single unit, is further broken down into several smaller parks. The state park system includes over 26,000 acres of landand over 160 miles of trails. It is possible to faintly view the Milky Way from 10 of the 17 state parks.
In 2015, Delaware State Parks won the Gold Medal honoring the best state parks system in the country from the National Recreation and Park Association. It was the tenth state to win the award since it was started in 1997, and it beat out finalists Wyoming, Georgia (a seven-time finalist), and Missouri (a three-time finalist).
Delaware's oldest public lands date back to 1682 when, upon his arrival as proprietor of the colony, William Penn instructed his deputies to set aside land that is now Cape Henlopen State Park and its natural resources to be held in trust for the common good of all the citizens.The earliest attempts at legislating protection of a formalized public parks system were the result of efforts by conservationist William Poole Bancroft, who recognized the beauty of northern Delaware and in the late 19th century became determined to see it preserved for the benefit of future generations. Bancroft also donated many acres of his own land to form public parks as well as created a trust to manage and acquire land for the development of parks after his death.
Several of the state parks in northern Delaware were at one time either partially or wholly owned by estates belonging to members of the Du Pont family that were acquired by the state after the deaths of family members. Several other state parks throughout Delaware were converted from former military installations that were determined to be surplus property.
Three of northern Delaware's state parks (Alapocas Run, Brandywine Creek, and Wilmington) exist to protect pieces of the historic Brandywine River, which was once heavily utilized by local industry. Four of southern Delaware's state parks (Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore, Fenwick Island, and Holts Landing) preserve stretches of ocean and bay beaches, which are very popular in summer months.
|Alapocas Run||New Castle||415 acres (168 ha)||2002||The park protects a portion of the Brandywine and is connected through a trail network to Wilmington and Brandywine Creek State Parks. It includes the Blue Ball Barn, originally built in 1914 by Alfred I. du Pont, which now houses the Delaware Folk Art Collection.|
|Auburn Valley||New Castle||452 acres (183 ha)||2008||The former estate of the Marshall family includes the 1897 Auburn Heights Mansion and the Marshall Steam Museum's collection of antique steam-powered cars.|
|Bellevue||New Castle||328 acres (133 ha)||1976||The former estate of William du Pont, Jr. includes tennis courts, a horse racing barn, and other recreational facilities, as well as Bellevue Hall, a replica of James Madison's Montpelier where du Pont spent his boyhood years.|
|Brandywine Creek||New Castle||933 acres (378 ha)||1965||Much of this state park was once part of Henry A. du Pont's Winterthur estate and was used as a dairy farm from the 1870s through the 1920s. The rest, protecting land along the Brandywine, was preserved by William Poole Bancroft and his Woodlawn Trustees. The park adjoins First State National Historical Park.|
|Cape Henlopen||Sussex||5,320 acres (2,150 ha)||1964||Delaware's largest state park includes the remains of World War II-era Fort Miles and its iconic observation towers which dot the cape's beaches on both the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay. The National Harbor of Refuge and Delaware Breakwater Harbor Historic District and its two lighthouses are visible from the beaches.|
|Delaware Seashore||Sussex||2,825 acres (1,143 ha)||1965||The park features beaches on both the Atlantic Ocean and Rehoboth Bay. It also includes the historic Indian River Life Saving Service Station.|
|Fenwick Island||Sussex||379 acres (153 ha)||1966||In 1981 Fenwick Island State Park became a separate park; before that it was the southern part of Delaware Seashore State Park.|
|First State Heritage||Kent||2004||Designed as an urban "park without boundaries," this park links historic and cultural sites throughout the capital city, Dover.|
|Fort Delaware||New Castle||288 acres (117 ha)||1951||The state park preserves all of Pea Patch Island in the middle of the Delaware River, including the historic Civil War fortress which housed prisoners of war.|
|Fort DuPont||New Castle||322 acres (130 ha)||1992||The former military base, named after Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont, was in use from the Civil War through World War II, and protects a stretch of land along the Delaware River and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.|
|Fox Point||New Castle||108 acres (44 ha)||1995||A former brownfield site along the Delaware River, it was cleaned up and now offers trails and recreational activities.|
|Holts Landing||Sussex||206 acres (83 ha)||1965||This park used to be a farm and boat ramp operated by the Holts Family.|
|Killens Pond||Kent||1,488 acres (602 ha)||1965||The core of this park is a 66-acre millpond, but it also includes campgrounds, hiking trails, and a water park.|
|Lums Pond||New Castle||1,790 acres (720 ha)||1963||Lums Pond was originally used to supply water for the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal when the facility still used canal locks. It is the largest freshwater pond in Delaware and features a new zip-line course.|
|Trap Pond||Sussex||3,653 acres (1,478 ha)||1951||The park preserves the northernmost strands of baldcypress trees in the eastern United States.|
|White Clay Creek||New Castle||3,398 acres (1,375 ha)||1968||White Clay Creek State Park preserves land around the White Clay Creek National Scenic & Recreational River. It borders Pennsylvania's White Clay Creek Preserve.|
|Wilmington||New Castle||345 acres (140 ha)||1998||Wilmington State Parks is an urban park unit consisting of several smaller parks protecting land along the Brandywine River in the heart of Wilmington. The park includes Brandywine Park, Brandywine Zoo, H. Fletcher Brown Park, and Rockford Park.|
|Park Name||County||Date |
|Brandywine Springs||New Castle||1956||1970||The site of a former Revolutionary War encampment and later an amusement park, Brandywine Springs State Park was transferred to New Castle County to operate as a county park.|
Cape Henlopen State Park is a Delaware state park on 5,193 acres (2,102 ha) on Cape Henlopen in Sussex County, Delaware, in the United States. William Penn made the beaches of Cape Henlopen one of the first public lands established in what has become the United States in 1682 with the declaration that Cape Henlopen would be for "the usage of the citizens of Lewes and Sussex County." Cape Henlopen State Park has a 24-hour and year-round fishing pier as well as campgrounds. The remainder of the park is only open from sunrise to sunset, and includes a bathhouse on the Atlantic Ocean, an area for surf-fishing, a disc golf course, and bicycle and walking paths. The beach at Herring Point is a popular surfing spot. The park is a stop on Delaware's Coastal Heritage Greenway.
Cape Henlopen is the southern cape of the Delaware Bay along the Atlantic coast of the United States. It lies in the state of Delaware, near the town of Lewes, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Off the coast on the bay side are two lighthouses, called the Harbor of Refuge Light and the Delaware Breakwater East End Light.
Brandywine Creek is a tributary of the Christina River in southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware in the United States. The Lower Brandywine is 20.4 miles (32.8 km) long and is a designated Pennsylvania Scenic River with several tributary streams. The East Branch and West Branch of the creek originate within 2 miles (3 km) of each other on the slopes of Welsh Mountain in Honey Brook Township, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles (32 km) northwest of their confluence.
The Transpeninsular Line is a surveyed line, the eastern half of which forms the north–south border between Delaware and Maryland. The border turns roughly north from the midpoint of the line towards the Twelve-Mile Circle, which forms much of the remainder of the Delaware land border.
Ridley Creek State Park is a 2,606-acre (1,055 ha) Pennsylvania state park in Edgmont, Middletown, and Upper Providence Townships, Delaware County, Pennsylvania in the United States. The park, about 5 miles (8 km) north of the county seat of Media, offers many recreational activities, such as hiking, biking, fishing, and picnicking. Ridley Creek passes through the park. Highlights include a 5-mile (8 km) paved multi-use trail, a formal garden designed by the Olmsted Brothers, and Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, which recreates daily life on a pre-Revolutionary farm. The park is adjacent to the John J. Tyler Arboretum. Ridley Creek State Park is just over 16 miles (26 km) from downtown, Philadelphia between Pennsylvania Route 352 and Pennsylvania Route 252 on Gradyville Road.
White Clay Creek Preserve is a 3,050-acre (1,230 ha) Pennsylvania state park along the valley of White Clay Creek in London Britain Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania in the United States. The park was donated by the DuPont Company in 1984 for the purpose of "preserving the diverse and unique plant and animal species, and the rich cultural heritage of the area". Dupont also donated an additional 528 acres (214 ha) for the adjoining White Clay Creek State Park to the state of Delaware. White Clay Creek Preserve is 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Newark, Delaware on Pennsylvania Route 896.
White Clay Creek State Park is a Delaware state park along White Clay Creek on 3,647 acres (1,476 ha) in New Castle County, near Newark, Delaware in the United States. North of the park is Pennsylvania's White Clay Creek Preserve, and the two were originally operated as bi-state parks to jointly protect the creek, but now they operate separately. The White Clay Creek is federally protected as part of the National Park Service's National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. White Clay Creek State Park offers 37 miles (60 km) of nature and fitness trails which are open to hiking and mountain biking 365 days a year with access at a number of seasonal day-use fee parking lots. Fee season is in effect March 1 - November 30. Fees are $4 for in-state vehicle or $8 for out of state vehicles. Annual passes can be purchased at any DE State Park Office or online. The park also preserves a number of historic structures and operates a nature center. It is part of the Northeastern coastal forests ecoregion.
Marsh Creek State Park is a 1,705 acres (690 ha) Pennsylvania state park in Upper Uwchlan and Wallace Townships, Chester County, Pennsylvania in the United States. The park is the location of the 535-acre (217 ha) man-made Marsh Creek Lake. With an average depth of 40 feet, the lake is stocked with fish and is a stop for migrating waterfowl. Marsh Creek State Park is 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Eagle on Pennsylvania Route 100. Park road hours 8:00 am until sunset. All other access open 24 hours.
Trap Pond State Park is a 3,653 acre (8.5 km²) Delaware state park located near Laurel, Delaware, USA. It is one of the largest surviving fragments of what was once an extensive wetland in what is now southwestern Sussex County. The state park features an extensive patch of bald cypress trees.
Brandywine Creek State Park is a state park, located 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Wilmington, Delaware along the Brandywine Creek. Open year-round, it is 933 acres (378 ha) in area and much of the park was part of a Du Pont family estate and dairy farm before becoming a state park in 1965. It contains the first two nature preserves in Delaware. These nature preserves are Tulip Tree Woods and Freshwater Marsh. Flint Woods is a satellite area of the park and has become the park's third nature preserve. Flint Woods is home to species of rare song birds and an old-growth forest. The park's forests are part of the Northeastern coastal forests ecoregion.
Fox Point State Park is a Delaware state park on 108 acres (44 ha) along the Delaware River in New Castle County, Delaware in the United States. The park, which opened in 1995, has been built atop a former hazardous waste site that has been rehabilitated under an adaptive reuse program that was spearheaded by S. Marston Fox and the Fox Point Civic Association. Fox Point State Park is open for year-round use from 8:00 am until sunset. The park offers recreational opportunities on biking and pedestrian trails with picnic facilities, a playground and volleyball and horseshoes facilities. Fox Point State Park is just off Interstate 495 and is the northern terminus of Delaware's Coastal Heritage Greenway.
Lums Pond State Park is a 1,790-acre (720 ha) Delaware state park near Bear, New Castle County, Delaware in the United States. The park surrounds Lums Pond, an impoundment built by the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal on St. Georges Creek. The C&D built the pond as a source of water to fill the locks of the canal that connected the Chesapeake Bay with the Delaware River during the early 19th century. Lums Pond State Park is open for a wide variety of year-round recreation.
Wilmington State Parks is a state park located in Wilmington, Delaware. Open year round, the park is approximately 345 acres (140 ha) of land mostly situated along the Brandywine Creek. The state park is made up of a group of smaller parks that are administratively managed as a single unit.
Bellevue State Park is a 328-acre (133 ha) Delaware state park in the suburbs of Wilmington in New Castle County, Delaware in the United States. The park is named for Bellevue Hall, the former mansion of William du Pont Jr. Many of the facilities at the park were built by du Pont. Bellevue State Park overlooks the Delaware River and is open for year-round recreation, daily, from 8 a.m. until sunset. The Mount Pleasant Methodist Episcopal Church and Parsonage is located in Bellevue State Park; it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Cauffiel House is a historic home in the park near Stoney Creek.
Beaver Valley straddles the Pennsylvania and Delaware border in Delaware County, PA and New Castle County, DE. An unincorporated place name, it is traversed by several streams which drain to Beaver Run which itself empties into the Brandywine River. It is approximately bounded by US Route 202 to the east, The Brandywine River to the west, Thompsons Bridge Road to the south, and Smithbridge Road to the north, with Beaver Valley Road encircling a large portion of the valley. The majority of the lands in Beaver Valley have been owned for decades by The Woodlawn Trustees, which designated in the early 1970s all of its Brandywine Hundred and Delaware County holdings in Beaver Valley and elsewhere as a Wildlife Refuge. In 2012, The Woodlawn Trustees submitted development plans to Concord Township Supervisors in Delaware County for the purpose of constructing approximately 500 housing units and a 225,000 square foot national retail store, all of which would adjoin the First State National Historical Park in Chadds Ford Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania and New Castle County, Delaware. The original plans were withdrawn, but the developers – Frank McKee and the Julian brothers, Richard and Frank – came back with new plans entitled "Vineyard Commons" which called for 161 houses spread across approximately 230 acres. Suing Concord Township in March 2015 for its preliminary approval of Vineyard Commons, Beaver Valley Conservancy members argued that several dozen of Concord Township's own building and stormwater codes were violated by their approval. In October, 2016, a Delaware County Common Pleas Court judge sent the case back to the Concord Supervisors ordering them to hold evidentiary hearings and to apply environmental protection standards to the development per Pennsylvania's Environmental Rights Amendment to its constitution. Shortly after this court order, the developers agreed to sell their rights to the land to the Conservation Fund and the Mount Cuba Foundation, a deal which was finalized in May 2017 with the help of the Brandywine Conservancy and the Beaver Valley Conservancy. According to the Conservation Fund, the land will be donated to the National Park Service and added to the First State National Historical Park in Chadds Ford and New Castle County.
Tavistock is an unincorporated community in New Castle County, Delaware, United States. It is within ZIP Code Tabulation Area for 19803.
Alapocas Run State Park is a state park, located in Wilmington, Delaware, United States, along the Brandywine Creek and its Alapocas Run tributary. Open year-round, it is 415 acres (168 ha) in area. Much of the state park was created from land originally preserved by William Poole Bancroft in the early 1900s to be used as open space parkland by the city of Wilmington as it expanded. The park also includes the Blue Ball Barn, a dairy barn built by Alfred I. du Pont as part of his Nemours estate in 1914. In addition to walking trails, athletic fields, and playgrounds for children, one of the park's primary features is a rock climbing wall. The rock climbing wall is part of an old quarry across from historic Bancroft Mills on the Brandywine, and the quarry is also used for school educational programs centered on earth sciences.
Alapocas Run is a 1.05 mi (1.69 km) long tributary to Brandywine Creek in New Castle County, Delaware. This run drains a large portion of Alapocas Run State Park in the Wilmington, Delaware area.