CAMP HELEN STATE PARK
CAMP HELEN STATE PARK
23937 Panama City Beach Parkway
Panama City Beach, Florida 32413
The park is bordered on three sides by the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Powell? one of the largest coastal dune lakes in Florida. Coastal dune lakes are extremely rare worldwide; in the United States they occur only along the Gulf Coast. Prehistoric middens and mounds indicate that humans lived in the area more than 4,000 years ago. From 1945 until 1987, Camp Helen was a company resort for employees of an Alabama textile mill and some of the buildings are now being restored. Natural areas range from coastal dunes and salt marshes along the Gulf to freshwater wetlands and sand pine scrub along the lake.
Humans have been attracted to the area at and around Camp Helen for over 400 years. This is evidented by the pre-historic middens and mounds found within the park.
Known as Inlet Beach to early European settlers and later to developers, the area around Phillips Inlet was initially developed for recreational opportunities in the early 1920?s. Then in the 1940?s a lodge and associated buildings were added to the property, some of which still exist today. These buildings offer a look at tourist life as it once was here along the Gulf Coast. From 1945 into 1987, Avondale Textile Mills of Sylacauga, Alabama operated Camp Helen as a resort for vacationing employees.
From the efforts of the local community, Gulf Coast Community College, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection the land that makes up Camp Helen was acquired by the State of Florida in 1994 under the Conservation and Recreational Lands Programs.
Boating opportunities exist at Camp Helen State Park; in that we are located on Lake Powell and The Gulf of Mexico connected by Phillips Inlet. Camp Helen has no public boat ramp, no canoe launch facilities, nor tie-ups. The Lake Powell Park managed by Bay County does offer public boat ramp facilities. Caution is advised to any boater not familiar with these waters. Lake Powell is a relatively shallow Lake with a low clearance bridge transecting the Lake between the County Boat Ramp and the lower lake, Inlet and Gulf. The Lake is a coastal Dune Lake not a Bay. The inlet that connects the Gulf and the Lake is not maintained for vessel navigation. It meanders naturally from day to day. Boaters not experienced with these waters are recommended to not attempt navigating the inlet. Any craft that runs a ground is the responsibility of the crafts owner. Recommended boating opportunities are limited to smaller craft Sea Kayaks, Canoes, Fishing skiffs (John Boats), pontoon boats, Ski Boats, Bass Boats. Larger vessels may be a poor choice for boating enthusiast.