Know before you go… what’s currently open, closed and in-effect at the Canal
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District has been responsible for the operations and maintenance of the Cape Cod Canal. With annual visitation exceeding three million, the Cape Cod Canal is one of the Corps busiest projects and serves as the gateway to historic Cape Cod.
Our primary mission is to provide safe navigation to the 14,000 commercial and recreational vessels that transit the 17.5 mile waterway each year. However the 1,000 acres of land that surrounds the canal provides diverse recreational opportunities such as hiking, fishing, biking, picnicking and ship watching.
Explore our website below to discover even more opportunities available when you visit the Cape Cod Canal!
Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center
Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center offers excellent insight into the rich history, fascinating features, and vigilant operation of the Cape Cod Canal. Inside you will discover a museum that is fun, fascinating, family friendly and free. Interactive exhibits offer something for visitors of all ages.
Board a retired 40-foot US Army Corps of Engineers patrol boat;
Scan live radar and camera images to locate vessels in the waterway. Captain a virtual boat through the canal;
Investigate what’s inside many of the ships transiting the canal;
Discover wildlife that live in or around the canal;
View films about canal history, wildflowers and wildlife;
Participate in various free interpretive programs;
Click here for a list of activities, programs, and events
Or just relax and soak in the waterfront views from the rocking chairs on our front deck
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Rangers and volunteers staff the Center, and provide information about the canal and its recreational opportunities. A small bookstore is also offered.
2021 Hours: Starting July 3, Open Thursdays and Saturdays from 10am-5pm
Located at: 60 Ed Moffitt Drive, Sandwich, MA. 508-833-9678
Multiple Canal access points along both sides of the Canal have been developed into Recreation Areas equipped with restrooms, picnic areas and parking lots. This year, the seasonal restrooms are open daily from April 24 – October 11, 2021. NOTE: the restrooms at Sandwich Recreation Area are closed for repairs until further notice. Portable toilets are available at this location. View our Recreation Map to locate the various recreation areas along the Canal and what is offered at each.
Opened Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, Midway Recreation Area is a beautiful wooded area, ideal for families, offering individual and group picnic options with charcoal grills, volleyball, restrooms and more. Midway has a large picnic pavilion with grills, tables, and a fireplace that can be reserved for group functions at no cost via a Special Facility Permit request. For more information contact Park Ranger Elisa Carey 978-318-8591.
Biking and Walking
Service roads which parallel both sides of the Canal are available for bicycling, jogging and walking. Each service road is approximately seven-miles long. Benches are placed along the service roads for the enjoyment of our visitors. While enjoying the Canal’s service roads remember, if you pack it in, please pack it out. All developed recreation areas that offer service road access are equipped with trash receptacles for your convenience.
Special Use Permits
Organized events and activities along the Canal may require a special use permit. For details click HERE. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, special event and activity permits will not be issued until further notice.
For more information, please contact Park Ranger Jonathan Dumais or 978-318-8534.
The Canal provides a unique, close-up view of ocean going ships and tugs underway as they utilize the canal route between Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay. Cruise lines, cargo ships and jumbo car carriers can be seen from the Canal banks. From the simple lines of a working harbor tug to the sleek look of a luxury yacht, the Canal provides a continuous parade of vessels to observe and enjoy.
Fishing is permitted from the Canal banks in all areas except Massachusetts Maritime Academy and the Canal Administration area in Buzzards Bay. Caution is advised as the rip rap slopes can be slippery. Handicap accessible fishing is available at the Sandwich bulkhead area and the Scusset Beach fishing pier.
Saltwater fishing and lobstering are subject to state regulations and licensing, and are managed by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. For more information, to obtain a saltwater fishing permit, and for up-to-date regulations, visit https://www.mass.gov/recreational-saltwater-fishing
To report a violation, contact the Massachusetts Environmental Police Dispatch office at 1-800-632-8075
If adequately powered, recreational vessels may transit the Canal. Sailing in the Canal is prohibited; sailboats must use auxiliary power during Canal passage. All boaters should familiarize themselves with the Canal's changing currents prior to attempting Canal transit. In a restricted channel such as the Cape Cod Canal, smaller vessels should stay to the right and give way to the larger commercial vessel traffic. For more safety tips and regulations on boating in the Canal, view the Recreational Boating Guide.
Swimming and scuba diving are prohibited in the Canal due to its swift current. A swimming beach on Cape Cod Bay is available at Scusset Beach State Reservation.
The Bournedale Hills Trail extends 1.4 miles along the north side of the Canal from Bourne Scenic Park to the Herring Run. The trail includes a .8 mile self guided loop which interprets the Canal's historic and natural features.
Within Scusset Beach State Reservation, the .7 mile interpretive trail to Sagamore Hill provides access to an area that was once a Native American meeting ground and later the site of a World War II Coastal Fortification. The top of Sagamore Hill commands a view of the Canal's east entrance and Cape Cod Bay. Click here for a trail map.
Trailer and tent camping areas are provided on Canal lands at two locations, on the north side of the Canal. Under a long term lease agreement with the Corps of Engineers.
Bourne Scenic Park is operated by the Bourne Recreation Authority. The park offers facilities for both tent and recreational vehicle camping.
Another long term lease has been issued by the Corps of Engineers to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for operation of Scusset Beach State Reservation. Located on the east end of the Canal, Scusset Beach State Reservation has camp sites for recreation vehicles.
The East Boat Basin located on the south side of the Canal in Sandwich has slips for recreational and commercial vessels. The area is leased by the Corps of Engineers to the Town of Sandwich.
On a fee basis, boaters may utilize the marina's slips or boat ramp. On the west end of the Canal the Buttermilk Bay channel provides boaters access to the Taylor Point Marina, which is owned by the Town of Bourne.
Canal Park Rangers offer a host of interpretive programs designed for various ages and interests. They include guided walks and tours, bike hikes, evening presentations, junior ranger programs, special events and more.
Scheduled programs are offered in the spring, summer and fall. Click for a list of upcoming scheduled programs, events and activities.
Group tours and interpretive programs are also available upon request, free of charge, to school, civic and scouting groups. US Army Corps of Engineers Park Rangers offer programs and lead tours on various aspects of the Canal’s engineered and natural history, its unique features and its marine operations. Programs at the Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center, along the Canal or at your school/facility are available. Please email Park Ranger Samantha Gray or call 978-318-8622 for more information and/or to schedule a program.
Updated: July 9, 2021