The Province Lands, heavily forested and lush in the time of the Pilgrims, became leveled and desolate as trees were clear-cut and erosion took its toll. As the dunes took over and beach grass sprang up through the cracks, a new ecosystem emerged, and people, mainly artists searching for solitude, began to call the once barren land their home. Renamed Provincetown, the village now thrives amidst the dunes.
Sitting atop one of these dunes, at the end of Race Point Road, is the Province Lands Visitor Center, where you can gaze out onto a stunning 360-degree view of the tip of Cape Cod. The Race Point Ranger Station, Race Point Beach, the Old Harbor Lifesaving Station and Provincetown’s towering Pilgrim Monument can all be spotted from the center’s observation deck.
The visitor’s center offers exhibits on topics such as local plants and animals, the Pilgrims’ landing in Provincetown, as well as a theater for area-orientation films and a bookstore featuring maps, books, games and puzzles. Staffed by National Seashore park rangers, they are always available to answer any questions you may have on the natural and cultural history of the area.
Because of its ideal location, the Province Lands Visitor Center serves as a starting point for many ranger-guided activities, such as nature walks, but you can always trek out on your own. Bicyclists can access the Province Lands Bicycle Trail from the visitor center, a five-mile paved path meandering in and out of the dunes. Bikes can be rented from P-Town Bikes (42 Bradford St, 508-487-8735), or you can walk through the dunes on the Snail Trail. Beginning on Route 6, just before the water tower, the trail is 3.5 miles long, and emerges onto Race Point Beach.
The Visitor Center is a wealth of information, surrounded by beauty, a perfect way to immerse yourself in all that Cape Cod has to offer. Ask about their special events, such as family campfires (reservations required). They also offer canoe trips and surfcasting programs, both with equipment provided.
- Mid-April to October 31: 9am to 5pm
- From Rt. 6-E, past Eastham and into Provincetown, turn right onto Race Point Rd; 1-mile to Visitors Center
- Location: Race Point Road, off Route 6, at the northern end of Cape Cod National Seashore
- Phone: 508-487-1256
- Website: www.nps.gov/caco/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm