Camp Helen State Park

Camp Helen State Park

This often overlooked ecological gem sits on the far western border of Panama City Beach, just over the Phillips Inlet Bridge and close to the border of Walton County. Offering pristine beaches, excellent trails that wind through dunes and scrub oak forests, and a rare dune lake, Camp Helen State Park is truly one of Florida's most special state parks.

Purchased in 1928 by Robert E. Hicks, the original 185-acres that is now Camp Helen State Park was used as a family summer retreat before being purchased by the Alabama company, Avondale Textile Mills, which renamed the park Camp Helen and used it as a resort destination for vacationing employees. The historic lodge and associated buildings still stand today and have undergone recent renovations.

Camp Helen State Park is bordered by water on three sides, and the unique combination makes it the ecological wonder that it is. Lake Powell forms the eastern border, and is one of the largest rare coastal dune lakes found only a few places in the world. At times, this freshwater lake will breech the spit of land that separates it from the Gulf of Mexico, and the resulting channel causes fresh and salt water to mix, resulting in what's known as "brackish" water.

The park is home to five distinct natural communities, including mesic flatwoods, scrub oak, basin swamp, depression marsh, and marine unconsolidated substrate. Each of these ecosystems can be viewed in only a short walk through Camp Helen State Park, but you might want to have both your hiking boots and your flip-flops handy, as you'll spend time both in the woods and on the beach here!

There is no camping at Camp Helen State Park, but fishing, boating and fires are allowed in designated areas. No lifeguard is on duty, so exercise caution and use good judgment when entering any body of water.

Camp Helen State Park is located at 23937 Panama City Beach Pkwy.
Phone: (850) 233-5059

(850) 233-5059
Camp Helen is bordered on three sides by water; the gulf to the south and Lake Powell to the north and east. Lake Powell is the largest of the unique coastal dune lakes in Florida. Six communities await your exploration and discovery as well a a wealth of local and Florida history!
Prehistoric middens and mounds indicate that humans inhabited the area more than 4,000 years ago. In more recent times, a hotel stood on the property in the 1920's, and after that burned down a private residence was built there in the 1930's.  From 1945 until 1987, Camp Helen was a company resort for the employees of Avondale Mills, a textile company with numerous mills all over the southeast.  The property became a state park in 1996, and has been open to the general public ever since! Most of those buildings have now been restored. The 183-acre park is for day use only. Activities include swimming, beachcombing, bird watching, nature study, hiking and biking on the trails, and both freshwater and saltwater fishing.
History Tours are given the first Saturday of every month at 10:00AM; free with paid park admission.  Other annual events happen throughout the year.
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