Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod National Seashore

What is the Cape Cod National Seashore?

The Cape Cod National Seashore is not only a regional treasure, it is a national jewel. Created by legislation sponsored by Senator John F. Kennedy and then signed into law by newly-elected President Kennedy, this pristine coastline situated on Cape Cod in Massachusetts is a touchstone for people to connect with the wildlife and natural beauty of our country. The Seashore not only protects the Cape's fragile coastal ecosystem, it tells the story of human existence on this sandy spit of land – protecting and interpreting of 40 miles of coast, 44,600 acres of land and 9,000 years of human activity. Annually, the Cape Cod National Seashore greets at least 4 million visitors and residents.

Is the Cape Cod National Seashore a National Park?

Having summered on the Cape since childhood, President John F. Kennedy realized that the Cape Cod he had grown to love was disappearing.  It was this deep connection with the sand and sea that led President Kennedy to sign a bill in August of 1961 protecting forty-three thousand acres of space from Chatham to Provincetown and preserving it as a National Park.

What is there to do on the Cape Cod National Seashore?

One might think that with all that space there would be an almost limitless supply of things to see and do, and indeed there is.  From picture-perfect beaches and beautifully maintained walking trails to campfire programs, historic sights and working lighthouses, it can all be found at the Cape Cod National Seashore.

The southern-most point of the National Seashore is at Nauset Beach, managed by the Town of Orleans.  The park really begins in Eastham, the town that is also home to the park’s largest visitor information building, the Salt Pond Visitor Center.  The center is open year-round and staffed by well-informed rangers and volunteers, all eager to offer suggestions. Salt Pond Visitor Center also includes a small museum with indigenous flora and fauna, and an auditorium that screens short films throughout the day. Other points of interest in the Eastham area include the Fort Hill Area, Coast Guard Beach, Nauset Light Beach and the Three Sisters Lighthouses.

Here you’ll find Marconi Beach, the Marconi Station Site, the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail and several ocean beaches managed by the Town of Wellfleet, including Le Count, White Crest, Cahoun and Newcomb Hollow. At the Marconi Area is the historic site of Guglielmo Marconi’s historic wireless radio towers.  It was here that Marconi made the first trans-Atlantic radio transmission in 1903.  History buffs will appreciate the scale model of the towers on display and beach buffs will appreciate the sweeping views of both the Atlantic and Cape Cod Bay. The trailhead for the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail is off the same parking area for the Marconi site.  If you’ve got half an hour to spare, this is one trail that is not to be missed; eerily quiet and starkly beautiful.

Truro is one of the most sparsely populated towns on the Cape; just miles of sandy beaches and open space. The ocean side beaches are similar to Wellfleet, with big dunes and chilly water. Truro has three of the walking trails detailed in the park’s trail map; another swamp trail, Pilgrim Spring Trail and Pamet Area Trail.  The Pamet trail offers a quick hike, with a fairly steep grade, at the top of which is the Bearberry Hill Overlook.  The overlook allows you to take in the sprawling vista of shoreline and inlets. Back out on Route 6, a right hand turn onto Highland Road will bring you to the Highland Light, also referred to as Cape Cod Light.  Built in 1797, Highland Light is still a functioning lighthouse and is open for tours in season.

This is Thoreau’s Cape Cod: serene, rugged and exceptionally beautiful. Here you’ll find the Province Lands Visitor Center.  Like Salt Pond, it’s fully staffed with a complete array of facilities.  However, it’s smaller and seasonal. Short films are screened in the theater and long views are enjoyed from the observation deck.  This Cape-tip location is perfect for picture-taking. A bike trail meanders through the Province Lands dunes and two major beaches are the main attraction.  Race Point Beach is on the north side and Herring Cove is over on the west side. Dune tours are the perfect way to explore the majestic dunes of the National Seashore in Provincetown,

Read More about the Cape Cod National Seashore
7 Cool Things to Do on the Cape Cod National Seashore
Your Guide to the Cape Cod National Seashore
Kayaking the Cape Cod National Seashore
Dune Snacks of Cape Cod

Spotlight on Cape Cod