Water, water everywhere describes Delaware Seashore State Park. Bounded on the east by the mighty Atlantic Ocean, and on the west by Rehoboth Bay and Indian River Bay, the 2825-acre park is a beach-goers’ delight.
Throughout history, the forces of wind and water have kept this barrier island largely inaccessible, due to the frequent natural changes of the inlet channel between the bays and the sea.
Transportation along this narrow stretch of land was difficult until the Federal government completed construction of two large steel and stone jetties in 1939, stabilizing the Indian River Inlet. The State Park Commission (now the Division of Parks and Recreation) began operating Delaware Seashore State Park in 1965. Today, the park is a major attraction for millions of visitors who enjoy the large variety of water-related activities available along Delaware's coast.
The campground at Delaware Seashore State Park is a vacation destination for thousands of visitors each year. Open with full service April 1 through November 30 (electric, water, sewer and showers) and limited service year-round (electric and sewer only), the campground has 148 campsites and can accommodate a variety of camping units, from tents to large recreational vehicles. Three-point hookups for electricity, water, and sewer service are available on some sites. Showers, laundry, ice and soda vending machines add to the conveniences of outdoor living at the Indian River Inlet. Severe weather may limit availability of some amenities. Limited sites are available for fully self contained camping units year round (call for information).
Delaware Seashore State Park Best Campsites: 253 and 290
Delaware Seashore State Park
39415 Inlet Road
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware 19971
Toll Free: 302-739-9220
Five miles south of Dewey Beach, State Route 1. Cross Indian River inlet bridge, turn right at base of the bridge.
The main attraction for many visitors is swimming and sunbathing along the park's spectacular beaches. Two ocean swimming areas feature modern bathhouses with showers and changing rooms. Lifeguards patrol the beaches from 9 am to 5 pm daily between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. Snack foods are available at the bathhouses, and umbrellas, chairs, and rafts can be rented on the beach.
Fishing and boating are very popular year-round pastimes at Delaware Seashore. In addition to surf fishing on the ocean beaches, anglers may try their luck along the banks of the Indian River Inlet. A special access pier at the Inlet allows the elderly and people with disabilities to get close to the fishing action. The Indian River Marina offers many services for boaters.
Thompson Island on Rehoboth Bay is a new addition to the park. Located northwest of the Inlet, Thompson Island Preserve is a good example of the productive salt marsh habitat once common around the inland bays. Due to its importance to local wildlife, human activities on the island are limited, and there is no motor vehicle access or parking available at this time. With so much to offer in seashore recreation, it is easy to see why the Inlet and surrounding beaches remain the most popular park in the First State. Throughout the year, visitors of all ages will find fun in the sun at Delaware Seashore State Park.
Surfers enjoy riding the mighty ocean waves at Delaware Seashore, too. The beach just north of the Inlet is one of the few designated areas in the state for this exciting sport. Other beaches throughout the park are set aside for surf fishing. Marked dune crossings allow fishing access for four-wheel drive vehicles onto the beach. Permits and related information are available at the park office.
The shallow bays provide many additional opportunities to enjoy the water. Windsurfing and sailing are growing in popularity, and the sports are colorful to watch from the shore. A non-motorized boat launch provides access for sail boards and boats in the New Road area. Clamming and crabbing are permitted in some sections of the bays, please check with the Park Office for open areas. A short nature trail on Burton's Island affords scenic views of the salt marshes and bay islands, where gulls and terns gather in their noisy summer nesting colonies.
For group activities with families and friends, two picnic pavilions are available on a first-come, first-served basis, one on the bay shore at Savages Ditch Road and the other at the Inlet. Entertaining and informative programs, such as bay seining and marsh hikes, are held throughout the summer. The park also hosts a popular Sandcastle Contest each July, where amateur participants create unique sculptures and castles to compete for prizes.
Mode: Hiking and Equestrian
Distance: 4.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Hiking Trailhead: Towers Ocean and Keybox Road parking lots
Equestrian Trailhead: Towers Ocean - use crossing marked for equestrian access
Keybox Road - use vehicle dune crossing
Beach users can experience the constant change of the marine environment and nature enthusiasts can view shore birds foraging along the water's edge or Ospreys circling overhead. Stroll or ride along 4.6 miles of Atlantic Ocean beach within Delaware Seashore State Park. The beach is open for hiking year-round and seasonally for horse riding
Burton Island Trail
Mode: Hiking only
Distance: 1.5 miles (one way)
Trailhead: North end of the Indian River Marina
This loop trail begins at the causeway on the north end of the marina and travels over a packed and loose sandy surface through upland forests and over elevated boardwalks. The boardwalks provide views of the Indian River Bay, the Rehoboth Bay, and of the open salt marsh. The island features an inland bay habitat that supports a variety of birds, plants, fish, reptiles, and mammals.
Prickly Pear Trail
Mode: Hiking, Biking, and Equestrian
Distance: 3 miles
Trailhead: Hickman Road parking lot
This trail offers a three-mile loop perfect for exploring the park, and a 0.3-mile side trail that leads to a view of the Indian River Bay. The trail is wide with a grass or packed sand surface and is open to hiking, bicycling, and seasonal horseback riding. A 1/8-mile paved connector trail provides access from Route 1 at the north end of Fresh Pond.
Thompson Island Trail
Mode: Hiking only
Distance: 0.7 miles (round trip)
Trailhead: Access from Bay Road
The Thompson Island trail meanders through a mature upland hardwood and conifer forest before traversing a small glade where hikers can catch a glimpse of the tidal marsh. The trail continues through the upland forest before ending at the Lewes/Rehoboth Canal.