Updated: August 4, 2021
For first-time visitors, Cape Cod National Seashore parking and entry fee rules can be a bit confusing.
I'll cover all that and more on this page!
Cape Cod National Seashore ("CCNS") parking and entry fees are charged, seasonally, at these six beaches:
Fees are charged from late spring to early fall. The rest of the year, parking and entrance are free.
Here's when you should expect to pay, or show a valid pass and ID, for parking/entry:
Payment is collected and passes/ID are checked by the attendant in the beach entrance booth.
Active duty military and their dependents are admitted FREE with proper ID.
Children aged 15 and younger are also admitted FREE.
There are a number of passes that'll give you free parking and entry at Cape Cod National Seashore beaches.
Do you plan to spend 3 days or more at a Cape Cod National Seashore beach?
Buy an annual pass. It'll save you money!
This is the pass to buy if you'll be visiting Cape Cod National Seashore and other national parks around the country.
These passes are valid at more than 2,000 national parks and federal lands all across the USA and cover up to four adults riding together in the passholder's car. (Kids under 16 are always free.)
** Note: US National Parks passes are not accepted at the town-managed beaches or MA state parks on Cape Cod!
In addition to the passes I've already mentioned, the National Parks Service also offers special (free) passes for kids.
If you have a 4th or 5th grader in your family, you'll want to check these out!
Each year, the National Parks Service designates several "Fee Free Days" when entrance fees are waived at national parks all across the country.
In 2021, parking and entry fees will be waived at our National Seashore beaches on:
Cape Cod National Seashore beach parking lots are open from 6 a.m. to midnight.
Coast Guard Beach. In season, the lot adjacent to the old Coast Guard station is reserved for town of Eastham residents and those with a disabled permit/placard.
Everyone else must park at the nearby Little Creek Shuttle lot and take a shuttle to the beach.
Shuttles run about every 10 minutes, so there's rarely a long wait.
** Note: Drop off/pick up of passengers and belongings at Coast Guard beach is not allowed.
Nauset Light Beach. There's a relatively small parking lot at Nauset Light, and part of it is reserved for town of Eastham residents.
If you're not here by 9:30-10 a.m. on a summer day, don't count on finding a parking spot. So come early!
** Note: Drop-off/pick up of passengers along the roads leading to Nauset Light Beach is not allowed.
Herring Cove Beach. There's a good amount of parking here - a about 600 spaces total in two lots. But ...
Herring Cove Beach is a very popular place to spend a sunny summer day. So it's best to arrive before 10 a.m. to have a good chance of finding an open parking space.
Marconi Beach. The Marconi lot rarely fills up. When it does fill, there's usually a reasonable rate of turnover throughout the day.
Don't want to wait for a spot? Head up the road to Head of the Meadow.
Head of the Meadow. In all the years I've been going to Head of the Meadow, I can't recall ever having trouble finding a parking spot.
That's probably because getting from the parking lot to the beach takes a bit of climbing on a steep dune. Some people aren't up for that. Fewer visitors = open parking spots! :-)
Race Point. Although there's ample parking at Race Point, the lot does occasionally fill up on blistering-hot July and August days.
Most of the time, though, spaces are available or will open up after just a short wait.