Nature offers more than the beach! Just outside “Carillon,” you’ll notice the “Camp Helen State Park” sign. This ecological gem and State Park is surrounded by water on three sides (Lake Powell, The Gulf of Mexico and Phillips Inlet) and sits just west of the Carillon Neighborhood (23937 Panama City Beach Pkwy).
If you walk about .8 mi. down the beach from the beach walkover at “Livin’ The Dream,”(vrbo.com/1687988) and beyond the Pinnacle Port towers, you’ll get a beachside view of this park, where the freshwater lake meets the Gulf of Mexico. The waters are usually warm, shallow and with little current so it’s a fun place for kids to play.
Lake Powell, on the park’s eastern border is one of the largest coastal dune lakes found in the world. When conditions are right, the freshwater will breech the land separating the two and results in a channel of fresh and salt water mixed, also known as “brackish” water (Phillips Inlet). This water changes from day to day and connects to the shallow waters of Lake Powell.
Camp Helen State Park is home to five ecosystems which can be viewed in a short walk through the State Park, but remember to take both your hiking boots and flip flops as you will be trekking through the woods and enjoying the beach!
The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset everyday of the year. The entry fee is $5 for a car load and is cash only. There are large restrooms and plenty of picnic areas. The park is full of palm, oak and pine trees, and a scenic marsh. Be sure to take the 0.3 mi. trail to the virtually deserted beach. Enjoy a variety of birds, flora and fauna. There are also fun signs providing background history, old buildings and an old water tower.
Fun events include:
Kayak Ecology Tours
Family Movie Nights
Ranger-Led Trail Hikes
Moonlight Paddle on Lake Powel, A Rare Natural Phenomena
Free Admission to Movies & More: During the summer months (usually every other Wednesday) family-oriented movies along with a short program led by a Park Ranger begin at 6 p.m. in the park’s Recreational Hall, and the program is followed by an old fashioned campfire cookout of hot dogs and s’mores.
Camping is not allowed at Camp Helen State Park. Fishing, boating and fires are allowed in designated areas. Kayaks are available to rent (single $30, tandem $40), or you can bring your own.
Go to www.floridastateparks.org for event dates and information.
Phone: (850) 233-5059