Explore the Cape Cod National Seashore
Guided tours, camping, and beach fun on America's most beloved shoreline.
The Cape Cod National Seashore welcomes visitors with expansive stretches of sun and sand. Consider an authentic Cape Cod Seashore experience that includes driving your 4WD vehicle directly on the beaches, and enjoy the freedom to camp, swim, cook, and explore as you please.
To truly enjoy the area, consider making Dunes’ Edge Campground your basecamp. Located conveniently off Route 6 in Provincetown, Dunes’ Edge is perfectly situated near Race Point and Herring Cove Beach. Basic tent sites are available, and this camp offers secluded spaces to relax and plan your daily Cape Cod summer adventures.
When exploring the Seashore, take advantage of the free resources provided by the National Park Service. Visitor centers (including the Salt Pond Visitor Center) offer ranger-led programs, information on local parks and beaches, as well as passes and permits. Park rangers create a variety of tour programs based on a number of different activities and interests, from kayaking and swimming to wildlife watching and camping.
For active birdwatchers, the Beech Forest Birding Basic tour gives watchers a “hot spot” for wildlife viewing using ranger-provided binoculars. Lighthouse enthusiasts should seek out the Nauset Light Tour. Learn about the historic light’s importance to the Cape as you climb inside it. Similar lighthouse tours take place at the Highland Lighthouse in North Truro.
Families can expect plenty of activities geared toward children of all ages. Join the “Wet & Wild” tour and learn about local species by collecting wildlife from seashore marshes or visit the Salt Pond Visitor Center on Fridays for “Small-fry Activities” where you and your child can create seashore crafts.
Race Point Beach is the only beach where you can take your RV directly onto the sand and sits in the National Seashore’s “off-road corridor.” Register your vehicle at least one day prior at the Oversand Station for up to 21 days of nonstop beach fun.
The Cape Cod National Seashore issues off-road permits for vehicles other than RVs. Check with the Oversand Station to confirm if your car or truck qualifies before heading out. Stick to the designated trails that follow the shoreline along the beach.
TIP: Only travel the beach from either the Race Point north or Race Point south access ramps to the boundaries of the self-contained vehicle areas and exit the beach after every 72 consecutive hours in order to empty septic holding tanks.
Jutting far out in the Atlantic away from the mainland, the Outer Cape is one of the best places on the eastern seaboard to view the night sky. Viewing parties of amateur astronomers are held all summer long by the Cape Cod Astronomical Society and range from viewing moonrises to meteor showers. Bring a simple pair of binoculars or invest in a telescope of your own. Many stargazers have their own equipment and are happy to share with a fellow night sky enthusiast.
TIP: On viewing party nights, seek out one of the astronomers and ask about the specific celestial bodies and constellations in view that evening.
Fires on the beach are both picturesque and perfectly legal. The National Park Service issues free, easy-to-obtain permits at the Salt Pond Visitor Center valid for Marconi, Coast Guard, and Nauset Light beaches. Purchase firewood from a local store for reliably dry wood that’s already bundled, and feel free to bring food along to eat by the fireside.
TIP: Demand for beach campfire permits is high over the summer. The sooner you book and pick up your permit, the better. Reserve your permit up to three days in advance and pick up at the visitor center between 9:00 am and 3:30 pm.
By Digital Content Coordinator Greg Miller
Photo Credits: Kekoa Rosehill, NPS, and Greg Miller
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