Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod National Seashore: Celebrating 50 Years

August 23, 2011, 7:09 am

Many are surprised to learn that much of Cape Cod, one of America’s favorite summer retreats, is managed by the National Park Service as Cape Cod National Seashore.

Cape Cod is a large peninsula extending 60 miles into the Atlantic Ocean from the eastern edge of Massachusetts. Located on the outer portion of the Cape, Cape Cod National Seashore encompasses 44,600 acres and provides opportunity for beachgoers, bicyclists, hikers and history buffs to experience one of the country’s most beloved coastlines. Lighthouses, cultural landscapes, and wild cranberry bogs offer a glimpse of Cape Cod's past and continuing ways of life, while swimming beaches, waterways and walking, hiking and biking trails provide recreational opportunities.

The park has six beaches that offer a variety of recreational opportunities. Our favorites are Marconi Beach, in Wellfleet, which has crystal blue waters and iconic tall, steep sand cliffs, which rise some 40 feet behind sunbathers as they gaze out to sea. Race Point Beach, another favorite, is an amazing place to visit at sunset. The beach faces the northwest, making it one of the few beaches on the Atlantic where you can watch the sun setting over the ocean to the west.

Cape Cod National Seashore’s 40 miles of pristine sandy beach, marshes, ponds and upland forests support diverse species of plants and animals, including seals and other marine mammals, turtles and several types of shore and marsh birds. The seashore is a haven for the threatened piping plover, with roughly 5% of the entire Atlantic coast population nesting on its beaches.

In 2011, Cape Cod National Seashore is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Throughout the year, the National Park Service, its partners and local communities will be hosting a variety of events to commemorate the milestone. Many events run well through September, with some lasting through the end of 2011. Full event listings are available at nps.gov/caco.

In addition to scheduled celebrations, there are also a variety of ongoing events, like the 50th Anniversary Challenge Treasure Hunt, which encourages visitors to discover some of the lesser-known gems in the national seashore. Readers are also invited to share their memories of the cape as part of the Cape Cod National Seashore Online Memories Album.

As you head out to explore Cape Cod, be sure to pick up a copy of the 50th Anniversary edition of the park newspaper at a visitor center, which contains insider tips on exploring the Cape, a listing of special anniversary events, and information about the Cape’s lighthouses and historic buildings. You can also download the PDF of the newspaper here.

For additional 50th Anniversary information, visit wickedlocal.com.

Image: Race Point Light in Provincetown. Source: nps.gov.