In 1961, newly elected President John F. Kennedy, Senator Leverett Saltonstall, and Representative Hastings Keith championed a bill to turn more than 43,000 acres into the Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS), protected forever from further development. (About 600 private homes remain within the park.) Today, more than 5 million people visit the CCNS annually, situated between Eastham and Provincetown.
The excellent center shows short films on Thoreau’s Cape Cod, Marconi, the ever-changing natural landscape, and the history of whaling and lifesaving. The fine museum includes displays on the salt and whaling industries and diaries of Captain Penniman’s wife, Augusta, who accompanied him on several voyages.
Park rangers lead lots of activities and programs during the summer, from sunset campfires on the beach to talks on tidal flats and bird walks. Two short loop trails depart from here around Salt Pond and are worth your time.
The Nauset Marsh Trail offers a fine introduction to the National Seashore and its feathered, finned, and hard-shelled inhabitants. The 3-mile (round-trip) trail leads to wide-open views of the ocean, Nauset Marsh, and Salt Pond.