Cape Cod National Seashore

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Cape Cod National Seashore
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
A circular logo depicting a sand dune topped with beach grass next to the ocean, with a white sea bird flying overhead.
Official logo
Cape Cod National Seashore.png
LocationBarnstable County, Massachusetts, USA
Nearest cityBarnstable, Massachusetts
Coordinates41°50′14″N 69°58′22″W / 41.83722°N 69.97278°W / 41.83722; -69.97278Coordinates: 41°50′14″N 69°58′22″W / 41.83722°N 69.97278°W / 41.83722; -69.97278
Area43,607.14 acres (176.4718 km2)[1]
EstablishedAugust 7, 1961
Visitors4,083,505 (in 2020)[2]
Governing bodyNational Park Service
WebsiteCape Cod National Seashore

The Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS) encompasses 43,607 acres (68.1 sq mi; 176.5 km2)[1] on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. CCNS was created on August 7, 1961, by President John F. Kennedy,[3][4] when he signed a bill enacting the legislation he first co-sponsored as a Senator a few years prior.[5] It includes ponds, woods and beachfront of the Atlantic coastal pine barrens ecoregion. The CCNS includes nearly 40 miles (64 km) of seashore along the Atlantic-facing eastern shore of Cape Cod, in the towns of Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, Eastham, Orleans and Chatham. It is administered by the National Park Service.

Places of interest[edit]

Notable sites encompassed by the CCNS include Marconi Station (site of the first two-way transatlantic radio transmission), the Highlands Center for the Arts (formerly the North Truro Air Force Station), the Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars Historic District (a 1,950-acre historic district containing dune shacks and the dune environment), and the glacial erratic known as Doane Rock.

A former United States Coast Guard station on the ocean in Truro is now operated as a 42-bed youth hostel by Hostelling International USA.[6]

There are several paved bike trails:[7]

  • Nauset Bike Trail—Eastham
  • Head of the Meadow Trail—Truro
  • Province Lands Trails—Provincetown

There are several excellent beaches along the coastline with public facilities available seasonally. These include Race Point Beach in Provincetown and Coast Guard Beach in Eastham.[8] Both of these have made "top beaches in the US" lists over the years.[9][10]

Fauna local to the area[edit]

You can find many species of animals, depending on the time of year you visit. In the fall, you may see a kaleidoscope of Monarch butterflies. In the winter, you can find harbor seals and red-throated loons.  In spring, you may see a woodcox doing their mating rituals, or whales out in the ocean. Summer brings plovers and songbirds like orioles and warblers. Other animals you may see around Cape Cod National Seashore include the great blue heron, mute swans, bald eagles, and peregrine falcons.[11]

Amphibians seen at CCNS wetland areas include Fowler's Toads and Eastern Spadefoot toads.[12]

Restoration and conservation efforts[edit]

As part of the NPS Centennial Initiative, the Herring River estuary will be restored to its natural state through removal of dikes and drains that date back to 1909.[13]

In 2010, the North of Highland Campground was protected with a conservation easement. The Trust for Public Land, the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, the Truro Conservation Trust, and other groups led a grassroots campaign to support the funding for the purchase price of the conservation easement from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), secured by U.S. Senator John Kerry, U.S. Representative Bill Delahunt, and former Senator Ted Kennedy.[14][15]

The Biddle Property, home of the late Francis Biddle, who was the U.S. attorney general during WWII and served as the primary American judge during the post-war Nuremberg trials, was added to the Cape Cod National Seashore in 2011. Using funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Trust for Public Land purchased the property and conveyed it to the National Park Service.[16][17]

As part of the restoration efforts, a number of run-down and unsafe buildings of no historical significance will be removed from areas around CCNS and the affected lands will be restored. The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) has provided more than $8 million to oversee this project that is to begin in 2023.[18]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Listing of acreage – December 31, 2014" (XLSX). Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-08-26. (National Park Service Acreage Reports)
  2. ^ "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  3. ^ "Bill signing - S. 857 Public Law 87-126, Cape Cod National Seashore Act, 11:47AM". John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
  4. ^ "Cape Cod National Seashore Act - P.L. 87-126" (PDF). 75 Stat. 284 ~ Senate Bill 857. U.S. Government Printing Office. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-10-09.
  5. ^ Kennedy, John F. (1961). Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. Office of the Federal Register National Archives and Records Service. pp. 551-552.
  6. ^ "HI Truro Hostel". HI USA. Retrieved 2023-03-13.
  7. ^ Wellfleet, Mailing Address: 99 Marconi Site Road; ranger, MA 02667 Phone: 508-255-3421 To speak to a park; Us, call 508-255-3421 for visitor information Contact. "Walking Trails - Cape Cod National Seashore (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved 2023-03-13.
  8. ^ Shortsleeve, Cassie (May 22, 2018). "The Best Beaches on Cape Cod". Conde Nast Traveller. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  9. ^ "19 Beach Vacations That Don't Require a Passport". 22 May 2015.
  10. ^ "The 25 Best Beaches in America, According to You! - Coastal Living". Archived from the original on 2018-06-22. Retrieved 2018-06-21.
  11. ^ Burk, John S. (2011). The wildlife of New England : a viewer's guide (1st ed.). Durham, N.H.: University of New Hampshire Press. ISBN 9781611680096.
  12. ^ Timm, Brad C. (March 2014). "Fowler's Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) Activity Patterns on a Roadway at Cape Cod National Seashre". Journal of Herpetology. 48 (1) – via JSTOR.
  13. ^ "Herring River Tidal Restoration Project". National Park Service. July 2011. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  14. ^ "Cape Cod Campground Permanently Protected".
  15. ^ "Truro campground owner wins $2.4M conservation easement". Wicked Local.
  16. ^ "Biddle Property".
  17. ^ "Biddle property acquisition is plum for Park". Wicked Local.
  18. ^ "Cape Cod National Seashore to Receive Funding from Great American Outdoors Act for Deferred Maintenance Projects". States News Service. January 4, 2023.

External links[edit]