Florida Guide > State Parks
The State Parks department call Camp Helen their hidden gem and truly it is. Imagine gently rocking in a rocking chair while admiring Lake Helen. Or combing the beach for treasures. Or maybe you feel energetic enough to try the nature trail, whatever is your fancy; it is here.
Camp Helen is one of the biggest Coastal Dune Lakes in the world. There we go again; the State Parks are full of superlatives; the biggest, the oldest, the best and so on!
This area has been inhabited since the early sixteen hundreds; they can tell this from the early mounds and middens.
Leisure activities were introduced here in 1920 at Philips Inlet; later on in the 40s a lodge and various out buildings were introduced and the place became a magnet for lucky holiday makers.
Some of the original buildings survive and give us a flavour of how people holidayed in a by gone age. A textile mill that was based in Alabama used to send its workers here to holiday from the forties to the eighties The idea of your boss arranging your vacation seems foreign to us now, but in those days employers tended to be more fatherly in their approach to their work force.
The combined efforts of the Florida Dep of Enviromental Protection, the local people, the community council and the State of Florida came together in 1994 to buy Camp Helen and it became the park we know today.
At 180 acres it is certainly no where near the largest Florida State Park, but in terms of committment it has the largest heart and we salute all those involved.
Here you will see salt marshes and coast dunes along the Gulf areas and sand pine scrub along the lake. Do go to the visitors centre when you arrive to pick up some literature and chat to the park rangers who like nothing better than sharing their knowledge of this special place.
If you are a birder there are dozens of birds to spot from the snd piper to the yellow rumped warbler to the owl. There are also many animals to look out for so have that camera ready so you take home some memories.
For Information about Camp Helen State Park call 850–233–5059. Hours of Operation
Camp Helen is open from 8 a. m. until sundown 365 days a year and costs $2 for a car full.
Camp Helen is located at 23937 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, FL, just west of the Phillips Inlet bridge on the Bay County and Walton county line. The entrance is South of U. S. Hwy 98 and approximately 6 miles west of State road 79.
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