DNREC announces Delaware State Parks’ annual camping numbers hit record high in 2015

Upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend booked solid for campgrounds, cabins and cottages

DOVER – As Memorial Day weekend nears with the unofficial start of summer boasting the best weather forecast in recent memory, DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation is preparing for another banner year after serving a record number of campers and cabin guests in 2015. Camping last year was higher than at any other time in parks’ history, with a 19 percent increase over 2014. According to reservation data, the newly-renovated North Inlet campground at Delaware Seashore State Park played an instrumental role in the record 86,200 nights that people camped in a state park last year.

“Investments in state parks provide long-lasting recreational and educational benefits to Delawareans and enhances our quality of life,” said Governor Jack Markell. “These investments also help drive our thriving tourism industry and bring additional revenue to our state. The results of the camping survey bear this out. Campgrounds in Delaware State Parks are world-class, and that’s why Delawareans and visitors alike rate them so highly, and why campers return year after year.”

“These survey results reinforce the fact that we have the best state parks in the nation, for which Delaware State Parks was awarded the prestigious 2015 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “Our parks offer unique, varied and memorable experiences not found in other state parks in our region. We expect that plans for new amenities and other improvements will only enhance the enjoyment of our campers and further increase visitation.”

Just don’t try getting into a parks’ campground, cabin or cottage for the upcoming holiday weekend – since Monday, every campsite, cabin and cottage statewide has been booked solid for the weekend. But Delaware State Parks Director Ray Bivens advises campers to be proactive for the future and go online now to make reservations for other popular holidays like July 4, Labor Day and Halloween weekends, since bookings for these dates also are filling fast.

“We are delighted to find out that state parks’ campgrounds are more popular than ever,” Director Bivens said. “Residents and visitors alike are coming in increasing numbers to relax, connect with nature and spend time with family and friends. Our visitor surveys and reservation data show that campers appreciate the investments we are making to improve and modernize Delaware State Parks campgrounds.”

Several of the Delaware State Park campgrounds have seen improvements over the past two years:

  • Killens Pond — New fire pits for the cabins and 50-amp electrical service for campsites have been added, and the largest waterpark renovation in the history of the facility is underway.
  • Cape Henlopen – Two new bathroom facilities and six cabins have been added. This winter, electric service will be added to campsites.
  • Lums Pond – A $5 million-plus renovation to add full hookup sites and new bathrooms is underway. Reservations can be made now for the opening, expected in mid-June.
  • Delaware Seashore – The North Inlet campground has opened with full hook-up sites, new bathroom and laundry facilities, a playground, and a promenade walkway that allows access to both sides of Indian River Bridge.
  • Trap Pond – The Trap Pond Partners originated a free borrow-a-bike program.

To learn more about the improvements happening in Delaware State Park campgrounds or to make a reservation, visit www.destateparks.com, or call the state park call center at 1-877-98-PARKS.

Media Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 194

Delaware State Parks announces ‘Kickstarter’ campaign for funds to build new cabins in Cape Henlopen State Park

DOVER – Delaware State Parks and Cape Henlopen State Park have kicked off a fundraising campaign this month through Kickstarter.com to raise money for new camping cabins at the popular beach vacation spot.

Kickstarter, a popular crowdfunding site, boasts a global community built around creative projects where people from around the world can find the resources needed to transform ideas into reality. To date, tens of thousands of projects – big and small – have come to life with the support of the Kickstarter community.

DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation Director Ray Bivens is hopeful that backers will help fund the project, giving the gift of great family memories to more Cape Henlopen State Park visitors at an affordable price. “I am always happy to hear visitors tell me they look forward to bringing their family to our parks each year, spending camping trips with us as their annual family vacation,” Bivens said. “We are proud of this Kickstarter campaign as it will increase the opportunity for more families to share in an enjoyable, educational, relaxing and most of all, affordable vacation.”

Delaware State Parks made the decision to add additional camping cabins to the park after realizing the popularity the original six cabins saw during the peak season in 2015. “With a 97 percent occupancy rate and more than 1,500 people enjoying the cabins last year, we saw a need to give more visitors the opportunity to enjoy what Cape Henlopen has to offer,” said Cape Henlopen State Park Manager Paul Faircloth. “According to last year’s numbers and the projected numbers for 2016, these cabins will allow us to host around 2,000 people throughout the peak season.”

Campaign backers who have yet to secure plans for Memorial Day weekend will have the opportunity for special rewards by donation levels. A $500 donor, for example, would enjoy being the first to stay in the new cabins over Memorial Day Weekend. Other rewards include annual park passes, a week-long stay in the new cabins and even the opportunity to be “Parks Superintendent for the Day” at Cape Henlopen, including a behind-the-scenes tour with Director Bivens.

Contributions can be made to the campaign at www.Kickstarter.com until Wednesday, May 11 by searching “Cape Henlopen Camping Cabins.”

For more information about Delaware State Parks, the Kickstarter campaign or camping in the parks, please visit www.destateparks.com.

Media Contact: Caroline Foltz, Enterprise Development Coordinator, Delaware State Parks, 302-739-9185, Caroline.Foltz@delaware.gov

Vol. 46, No. 149

Open house on Cape Henlopen State Park campground renovation will be held on March 21

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation will host a public open house to review renovation plans for the Cape Henlopen State Park campground. The open house will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, March 21, at the park’s Officer’s Club/Youth Camp 3,15099 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes, DE 19958.

In 2015, two state-of-the-art bathhouse facilities were added. This year, six new camping cabins are under construction. The existing cabins, combined with the new structures, are designed to create a “cabin village.” Cabins are expected to be available for occupancy in May.

The campground will close in September for the next phase of renovations. Improvements are expected to include:

  • Reduction of asphalt
  • Installation of landscaping
  • Creation of back-in, pull-through and pop-up RV sites
  • Installation of electric service
  • Vehicular circulation improvement and paths linking the bathhouses within the campground
  • Construction of a camp store with laundry and utility sinks

Completion of these renovations is scheduled for May 2017.

Visitors at the open house are invited to view the proposed renovation plans and provide comments to DNREC program staff.

For more information on the open house, contact Cindy Todd, Division of Parks & Recreation, 302-739-9210 or Cindy.Todd@delaware.gov.

Media Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No.79