Visiting Hours, Public Use Permits, Closures and Area Designations (36 CFR 1.5)

In accordance with regulations and the delegated authority provided in Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations (“36 CFR”), Chapter 1, Parts 1-7, authorized by Title 16 United States Code, Section 3, the following provisions apply to all lands and waters administered by the National Park Service, within the boundaries of Cape Cod National Seashore. Unless otherwise stated, these regulatory provisions apply in addition to the requirements contained in 36 CFR, Chapter 1, Parts 1-7.

Written determinations, which explain the reasoning behind the Superintendent’s use of discretionary authority, as required by Section 1.5(c) appear throughout this document.


(a)(1) The following visiting hours and public use limits are established for all or for the listed portions of the park, and the following closures are established for all or a portion of the park to all public use or to a certain use or activity:

Visiting Hours:

Parking Areas:

The following areas are closed to vehicle use/entry during the dates and hours indicated:
Fort Hill (Upper Lot) 12 AM – 6 AM
Fort Hill (Lower Lot) 9 PM – 7 AM
Salt Pond Visitor Center 12 AM – 6 AM
Doane Rock (2 hour limit) 12 AM – 6 AM
Little Creek Parking 12 AM – 6 AM
Coast Guard Beach 12 AM – 6 AM
Nauset Light Beach 12 AM – 6 AM
Three Sisters 12 AM – 6 AM
Great Island 12 AM – 6 AM
Marconi Beach 12 AM – 6 AM
Marconi Site 12 AM – 6 AM
Highlands Center 12 AM – 6 AM
Highlands Light Parking Area 12 AM – 6 AM
Head of the Meadow 12 AM – 6 AM
Pilgrim Heights 12 AM – 6 AM
High Head 12 AM – 6 AM
Race Point 12 AM – 6 AM
Province Lands Visitor Center 12 AM – 6 AM
Cranberry Lot 12 AM – 6 AM
Herring Cove 12 AM – 6 AM
Beech Forest 12 AM – 6 AM
Cranberry Bog (2 hour limit) 12 AM – 6 AM
Headquarters (North Lot) 12 AM – 6 AM
Headquarters (South Lot) 12 AM – 6 AM
Maintenance (North) 12 AM – 6 AM
Maintenance (South) 12 AM – 6 AM
Ponds Parking areas 12 AM – 6 AM
Hatches Harbor Dike Parking 12 AM – 6 AM

Fire Roads:
Eastham - #510, 520 (open to Nauset Rod & Gun Club), 530, 540 (open to Boy Scouts). All Hours
Wellfleet - #608, 610, 611, 612, 613, 614, 620 (seasonal), 677. All Hours
Truro- #701 (open to dune tours), 710,711,713,714,715,719,722,723,724,725,726,727, 731, 733, 735, 736, 737,738,743, 752,753, 754, 755,759,760,771,782,783, 785,787,790. All Hours
Provincetown - #801 and 802 (open to dune tours), 804, 813, 820, 821, 822, 824,829,830,831, 832, 833,834,835. All Hours

Parking in the ponds area will be limited to designated areas. The maximum capacity of designated parking areas at each pond is:
Dyer Pond Vehicles Prohibited (Summer Months)
Dyer Pond 3 Vehicles all other months
Spectacle Pond 6 Vehicles
Horseleech Pond 3 Vehicles
Slough Pond 10 Vehicles
Herring Pond 3 Vehicles
Ryder Pond 3 Vehicles
Sluiceway Triangle 2 Vehicles
Round Pond (Truro) Vehicles Prohibited

Vehicle restrictions exist at parking lots, fire roads, and pond areas to limit environmental damage to sensitive dune, woodland and pond environments, along with public safety, protection of nearby public use facilities, and protection of private property.
Public Use Limits:
  • Hiking and pedestrian use, in primary/foredune and beach cliff areas, is restricted to designated paths and walkways from Nauset Inlet to Long Point and from Ryder Beach south to Jeremy Point. (SEE 2.1b).

Hiking and pedestrian use, in primary/foredune and beach cliff areas, is restricted to limit environmental damage to sensitive dune vegetation and stability, which if damaged would contribute to severe erosion. These areas are also restricted to maintain public safety, as dune heights may reach up to 150’.
  • The following ponds, lakes and streams are closed to gasoline powered, motorized boats/vessels:
Slough Pond
Grassy Pond
Round Pond (East)
Great Pond
Round Pond (West)
Bennett Pond
Horseleech Pond
Pasture Pond
Ryder Pond
Clapps Pond
Snow Pond
Clapps Round Pond
East Harbor (Pilgrim Lake)
Duck Pond
Spectacle Pond
Dyer Pond
Kinnacum Pond
Long Pond
Great Pond (Wellfleet)
Turtle Pond
Northeast Pond
Southeast Pond
Gull Pond
Higgins Pond
Williams Pond
Herring Pond

Ponds on Cape Cod and particularly kettle ponds within Cape Cod National Seashore are unique and sensitive resources with significant ecological, aesthetic and recreational value. Pond systems are directly connected to the groundwater aquifer and are one of the most fragile environments administered by the National Park Service and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Petrochemical releases into these systems would severely degrade the quality of the water system.

The following activities are prohibited at all fresh water ponds:
  • Possession of glass containers
  • Fires

The possession of glass containers and building of fires are concerns which threaten the safety and well being of individuals walking barefoot in these areas.
Closures and Public Use Limits:
  • During periods of ice, snow and wind storms, high visitation, special events, or natural events such as sensitive species activity, roads or trails to park features may be closed temporarily to ensure visitor safety and control, or to protect natural resources. Closures will be identified by posting, maps, media notifications, and closing of access routes through barricades and/or gates.

Park management reserves the right to implement emergency road, trail, or area closures on a temporary basis any time public safety concerns arise.
  • Shorebird and tern nesting and staging/migrating areas at Nauset Marsh and Coast Guard Beach, Eastham; Jeremy Point, Wellfleet; and Hatches Harbor Marsh, Provincetown will be closed from April 1 – October 15. Other shorebird and tern high use areas may be intermittently closed.
  • Posted shorebird and tern use (nesting and staging/migrating) areas are closed to pedestrians, vehicles, and pets. Beach areas in front of active shorebird use areas are closed to pets as signed.

Ground nesting, staging, and roosting terns and shorebirds are extremely vulnerable to disturbance and predation by pets. Pets, especially dogs, may chase, harass and kill nesting shorebirds, their eggs and chicks as well as disturb roosting and staging shorebirds if not restrained. In late summer, thousands of migrating shorebirds and terns congregate on the mudflats and beaches of Cape Cod National Seashore to feed and rest. To reduce disturbance to, and the potential for take of, nesting shorebirds, terns, and their chicks during nesting season; and to allow these and other migratory birds to accumulate the energy reserves needed for migration, it is necessary to prohibit pets from Nauset Marsh/Coast Guard Beach, Eastham; and Jeremy Point, Wellfleet; and Hatches Harbor Marsh, Provincetown, and other shorebird and tern higher use areas intermittently.

Shorebird and tern nesting areas are posted to prohibit public entry during the breeding season to prevent the loss of eggs and chicks through disturbance or destruction by persons, vehicles, and pets. Visitors, vehicles, and pets entering a breeding area could cause the parent bird to leave their nests or chicks. When the adults stop tending to the eggs or young, the offspring may be injured or killed by exposure to high temperatures, blowing sand, and predators. Additionally, eggs and chicks are camouflaged to avoid detection making them susceptible to being crushed.

(a)(2) The following areas have been designated for a specific use or activity, under the conditions and/or restrictions as noted:

Bike Trails:
  • Nauset Bike Trail
  • Province Lands Bike Trail
  • Head of the Meadow Bike Trail
  • Cape Cod Rail Trail
  • Park Fire Roads

Surfing Beaches:
  • Surfing is allowed on all saltwater beaches. Surfing is prohibited at protected swimming beaches when lifeguards are on duty.

Swimming Beaches/Areas (as posted):
  • Herring Cove Beach
  • Race Point Beach
  • Head of the Meadow Beach
  • Marconi Beach
  • Nauset Light Beach
  • Coast Guard Beach (Eastham)

The following restrictions and/or conditions are in effect for the specific uses or activities noted:
Glass Bottles/Containers
  • Prohibited on all beach and dune areas
The purpose of this regulation is to reduce the amount of injurious trash in the Park and to prevent Park visitor injuries. Glass containers break and linger on the beach/dune area.

Kite Flying
  • Use of hand held kites above or within 200 meters of any area designated by signs as a “Closed – Bird Use Area”, or on protected swimming beaches when lifeguards are on duty is prohibited.

Kites and other airborne devices disturb breeding, staging and migrating birds. Adult birds view them as birds of prey. This may cause the adult to flee the area, leaving nest and chicks exposed and unprotected from the environment and threats. Kites and airborne devices present undue hazards to visitors in crowded lifeguarded beach areas.

Kite Surfing

Kite surfing is prohibited at the following locations and during the following times:

Kite surfing is prohibited March 15 through October 15 on all open waters on ocean and bayside beaches within the Seashore other than at the following specific locations.


A total of approximately 1 ¾ miles of beach between the north end of the lifeguarded section of Coast Guard Beach, and a point north of the lifeguarded section of Nauset Light Beach will be open to kite surfing. The designated kite surfing boundary area will be marked on land by a post on either end. The ocean boundary around Nauset Light Beach lifeguarded section will be marked by a bright orange swim buoy.

Land and water access for takeoff and landings is allowed north of the lifeguarded area on Coast Guard Beach and at the north and south ends of Nauset Light Beach. Kite surfers must stay outside of, and may not launch from, the Nauset Light Beach lifeguarded area when lifeguards are on duty. The land boundary will be either end of the lifeguarded beach which is designated by large brown posts signed as “end of lifeguarded beach”.


The town of Wellfleet’s Duck Harbor Beach on Cape Cod Bay is open to kite surfing all year long. This specifically applies to the corridor the width of the town owned property and extends off shore through the extent of the ¼ mile jurisdiction of Cape Cod National Seashore.

The following conditions also apply:

Kite surfers must stay clear of other recreational users and at least 150 feet from seals which are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.

Kites for kite surfing are subject to the general prohibition of any airborne device above or within 200 meters of any section of beach designated by signs as a “Closed –Bird Use Area". This prohibition extends off shore as well as on shore.

All existing beach access parking restrictions apply.

The area is based on a determination made by the Superintendent that such use is consistent with the protection of a park area’s natural, scenic and aesthetic values, safety considerations and management objectives and will not disturb wildlife or park resources.
Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Cape Cod National Seashore is prohibited except as approved in writing by the superintendent. 36 CFR § 1.5(a)(1); 36 CFR § 1.5(f)

Definition: The term “unmanned aircraft” means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device, and the associated operational elements and components that are required for the pilot or system operator in command to operate or control the device (such as cameras, sensors, communication links). This term includes all types of devices that meet this definition (e.g. model airplanes, quadrocopters, drones) that are used for any purpose, including recreation or commerce.

Determination: While park managers understand the benefits of limited use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for research, for administrative use, and to provide for the public’s safety and welfare, the closures implemented are necessary to maintain public health and safety and to protect park resources and values until the NPS can determine whether specifics uses of unmanned aircraft on lands and waters administered by the NPS are appropriate and will not cause unacceptable impacts on park resources and values. Cape Cod National Seashore protects a variety of threatened and endangered birds and other species, and hosts thousands of visitors to our beaches, trails and remote areas each day. Until evaluations of these issues are analyzed, the Seashore will prohibit unmanned aircraft use except as authorized, including research and administrative use, by the superintendent.

The closure is a necessary, interim measure until the NPS considers how to address this use on a long-term basis, since use could result in unacceptable impacts to park resources, park values, and visitor safety.

Above required closures do not apply to the following established use:

Electric powered model aircraft, as defined by FAA Advisory Circular 91-57 and section 336 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2013, are excepted when operated for recreational or hobby purposes and within the unaided visual line of sight of the operator. The electric powered model aircraft is prohibited from containing a camera or any other recording device, and it cannot be operated within 200 meters of any area designated by signs as a “Closed –Bird Use Area”, or on swimming beaches when lifeguards are on duty.

Model aircraft may not disturb or harass wildlife, be operated in a reckless manner and must avoid flying directly over people, vessels, vehicles, or structures, and must avoid endangering the life and property of others.

Off-Road Vehicles

When a near closure (less than ½ mile), or total closure of the Seashore’s Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) corridor exists, the Superintendent will be able to relax time and date restrictions entered in Part 7 - Special Regulations, in accordance with the 2007 ORV EA. This will enable management to consider:
  • Open ORV corridor north of High Head access prior to July 21. In addition, open the ORV corridor between High Head access and Head of the Meadow access, prior to July 1.
  • Temporary daytime access to the ORV corridor south of Coast Guard Beach in Truro until June 30th.

The purpose of the 2007 ORV Environmental Assessment was to afford the Superintendent flexibility to open areas of the beach to ORV traffic where piping plover and least tern nesting activity would not be impacted by such use.
CCTV Policy Statement

In accordance with National Park Service Law Enforcement Reference Manual 9 (RM-9), notice is hereby given that Cape Cod National Seashore uses Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) security camera monitoring.

The park’s use of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) for law enforcement and security purposes will only be to visually monitor public park areas and public activities where no constitutionally protected reasonable expectation of privacy exists. Such CCTV use – which will have adequate privacy and First Amendment safeguards – will be to help ensure public safety and security; facilitate the detection, investigation, prevention, and deterrence of terrorist attack and crime; help ensure the safety of citizens and officers; help assist in the proper allocation and deployment of law enforcement and public safety resources; and help facilitate the protection of the innocent and the apprehension and prosecution of criminals. (RM-9, 26.1)
This policy does not restrict the official use of CCTV in government administrative areas, including administrative buildings, jail holding facilities (RM-9, 26.3.7), revenue collection sites, etc., where the government may record/monitor its facilities. For example, the government may perform unrestricted video/audio recording at revenue collection points (entrance stations, visitor center counters, etc.). This policy does not restrict the use of an Audio/Visual Recording Device (AVRD) in patrol vehicles or officer-worn recording devices used by commissioned rangers.
(RM-9, 26.1).
Operation of CCTV cameras, maintenance of recorded images and use of recorded images will be in accordance with NPS and Department policy and applicable laws and regulations. (RM-9, 26.1-26.4) No person will be targeted or monitored merely because of race, religion, gender, sex, disability, national origin, or political affiliation or views. (RM-9, 26.4.2)
Nothing in this policy statement is intended to create any rights, privileges, or benefits not otherwise recognized by law.

Last updated: April 10, 2020

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