History and Culture
The park was purchased in 1983 from the Henderson family estate and opened to the public in March 1991. This was the first acquisition under the land conservation program initiated by Governor Bob Graham, Save Our Coast. The family wanted to protect the area's natural features and let the public enjoy the surroundings. Initial construction included two picnic pavilions, restrooms, beach access boardwalks, an entrance station and support facilities. In March 2000, 30 campsites, a bathhouse, camping area, playground and additional beach access boardwalk were added. A beautiful three-quarter mile nature trail was built through a partnership between the Friends of Henderson Beach State Park and the park which provides visitors with a rare view of some of the last remaining coastal scrub communities in Florida's panhandle.
Day Use Area
This view captures the beach and dune area prior to Hurricane Opal in 1994. The beach provides favorable swimming conditions and has been a popular area with local residents for many years.
The park contains examples of a once prominent coastal dune system that existed in the panhandle before Florida's coastal development boom. The beach dune community extends from the gentle undulating foredunes near the Gulf waters to higher, mobile and larger dunes that can reach a height of 30 feet.
The shoreline at Henderson Beach has been shaped by wave action, winds and long shore currents of the Gulf of Mexico. The naturally white quartz sand is bleached from the action of water and sun. Sparkling sand blended with the emerald-colored water makes Henderson Beach State Park a perfect place to spend a day at the beach.
A beautiful three-quarter mile nature trail now provides visitors with a rare view of some of the last remaining and endangered coastal scrub communities in the Florida panhandle. This trail meanders through ancient but still growing and shifting dunes. Significant plants, some rare and others largely endemic to the panhandle grow in this area. At the top of the trail are remnants of the United States Air Force Clausen tracking site installed in 1951.
Sunset is an idyllic time at the park. Many families come here to unwind and have pictures taken to remember their vacation on the Emerald Coast.