Cape Henlopen State Park (Gordon’s Pond)

Site Description

  • State: Delaware
  • County: Sussex
  • Ownership: State


  • Gordon’s Pond: 317 acres

Ecology and Management

Gordon’s Pond is a saltwater impoundment located in Cape Henlopen State Park.

Gordon’s Pond is a saltwater impoundment located in Cape Henlopen State Park along the Atlantic coast of Delaware. It is thought to have originated centuries ago as a result of salt harvesting activities (Forney 2014). Currently, the impoundment is managed both for mosquito control and to provide habitat for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl. According to eBird, 232 species have been observed at this site. The water levels are managed by the Delaware State Parks system and generally allowed to fill during winter and is drawn down in the summer. Inputs come from both rain water as well as from the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.


These days, it’s only a rare and powerful nor’easter that breaks through the dunes every 10 years or so to push ocean water into Gordons Pond.”
– (Forney 2014)

Gordon’s Pond is impounded to the east by a natural dune system, which experiences breaches on average once every 10 years during coastal storms. Despite these breaches the dunes which impound Gordon’s pond are healthy and not predicted to be especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Human Value

Being situated directly adjacent to the Delaware beaches and between the popular towns of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, Gordon’s Pond receives large numbers of visitors in the summer months.

Literature Resources

Below is a list of articles describing research occurring at or near the impoundments:

  • Forney, D. 2014. Gordons Pond water levels and our salt-gathering past. Cape Gazette June 20, 2014:1.
  • GPWG [Gordons Pond Working Group]. Preliminary assessment of trail alternatives. Dover, Delaware: Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; 2010.
  • Manomet [Manomet Center for Conservation Science]. 2015. ISS/PRISM Tools: Site Map, Site List and Site Reports. 2015:1.