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Camping at Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod National Seashore
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Overview of Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod National Seashore is a national park on the eastern coast of Massachusetts. It encompasses more than 40 miles of pristine sandy beach, marshes, ponds, and uplands. Visitors enjoy a diverse array of natural and cultural features, including lighthouses, cultural landscapes, wild cranberry bogs, and numerous hiking and biking opportunities.

Camping Regulations and Tips

Camping Options:

  • Traditional camping facilities are not available within the park itself.
  • There are two campgrounds near the Seashore: Nickerson State Park in Brewster and Shawme-Crowell State Forest in Sandwich.
  • Private campgrounds also operate in the towns adjacent to the park.

Permit Requirements:

  • Overnight camping on the beach is not allowed without a permit.
  • Permits for backcountry camping, if available, would be issued by the National Park Service.


  • Strictly regulated due to the risk of wildfires and potential harm to the environment.
  • Generally, campfires are not allowed on the beaches to protect the ecosystems.
  • Check with local campgrounds for their specific fire policies.

Leave No Trace:

  • Campers should follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize their impact on the environment.
  • Dispose of waste properly and respect wildlife.


  • Pets must be leashed and are only allowed in certain areas.
  • Always clean up after your pet and dispose of waste in trash receptacles.


  • Familiarize yourself with the local weather, tides, and potential wildlife encounters.
  • Bring appropriate gear for cold and unpredictable coastal weather.
  • Swimming may be hazardous due to strong currents and riptides; heed posted warnings.

Activities and Attractions

Hiking and Biking:

  • A variety of trails offer the chance to explore the Seashore's diverse habitats.
  • The Cape Cod Rail Trail extends for 25 miles, winding through forests and marshes.

Beach Activities:

  • Sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing are popular.
  • Visitors must adhere to seasonal restrictions for shorebird nesting areas.

Educational Programs:

  • Ranger-led programs offer insight into the park's history and natural features.
  • Check the park's schedule for talks, guided walks, and evening programs.

Historic Sites:

  • Visit lighthouses, such as Nauset Light and Race Point Light.
  • Explore old life-saving stations that have been converted into museums or rest areas.

Wildlife Watching:

  • Look for seals at coastal points or observe birdlife throughout the park.
  • Be sure to view wildlife from a distance and do not feed the animals.

Seasonal Considerations


  • The most popular season, with the widest array of programs and services.
  • Expect crowded conditions and limited parking; consider arriving early or taking a shuttle.


  • Fewer services and facilities, but fewer crowds.


  • Cape Cod experiences a range of weather conditions; pack accordingly.
  • Fog and cool breezes are common along the shore, even in summer.
  • Winter can bring snow and strong winds.

Getting There and Around


  • The park is accessible by car and there are several entrances along the Cape.
  • Ferry services offer transportation to Provincetown from Boston and other locales during the summer.


  • Having a car is recommended to explore the more remote areas of the Seashore.
  • Bicycles are a great way to travel on established paths and reduce parking concerns.
  • Shuttle services may operate within the park during peak seasons.


  • Parking is limited at popular beach areas, especially during the summer.
  • Observe all parking regulations to avoid tickets or towing.

By abiding by the rules and regulations while visiting Cape Cod National Seashore, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable camping experience and help to preserve the unique environment for future generations.

Map of Campgrounds in Cape Cod National Seashore
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