Provincetown, Massachusetts

Race Point Lighthouse stands as a beacon of safety and a testament to maritime history at Cape Cod's northern tip in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Location Added By:

Tom Riley (GoXplr Account)

About This Location

Race Point Lighthouse: Guiding Mariners at Cape Cod's Northern Tip

Race Point Lighthouse stands as a beacon of safety and a testament to maritime history at Cape Cod's northern tip in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Since its first lighting on November 5, 1816, this historic lighthouse has played a vital role in ensuring the safe passage of vessels navigating the treacherous waters near Race Point.

A Long-Awaited Lighthouse

The need for a lighthouse at Race Point was evident as early as 1808, when Provincetown's residents began petitioning for its construction. The treacherous bars near Race Point posed a significant hazard to vessels negotiating Cape Cod's northernmost tip. Consequently, Race Point Lighthouse was officially established in 1816. The original rubblestone tower, with its light 25 feet above sea level, was the earliest revolving light on Cape Cod, introduced to differentiate it from other Cape lighthouses. Race Point marked the third lighthouse to illuminate Cape Cod's coastline, following Highland Light in 1797 and Chatham Light in 1808.

A Legacy of Light

The original Race Point Lighthouse served dutifully for several decades but required numerous updates. In 1874, a new light keeper's house was added. Two years later, in 1876, due to significant deterioration, the original tower was replaced with a 45-foot tall cast iron tower lined with brick. The modern fourth-order Fresnel lens from the original lighthouse found a new home in the freshly built tower. The original stone keeper's house was also replaced with a wooden one.

Race Point Light entered the modern age in 1957 when it was electrified. Further modernization occurred in 1972 when the light was automated. In 1995, the lighthouse's stewardship passed to a non-profit organization, the American Lighthouse Foundation. They embarked on a mission to restore the keeper's house, eventually offering rooms for overnight stays in 1998. Revenue from the sales of overnight stays are used to maintain the historic light station.

Today, both the Keeper's House and the Whistle House are available for overnight rental which is a very unique offering. They both sleep 8 people and offer central heating, electric and hot running water. You can learn more about renting these unique and historic structures at

In an eco-conscious move, a solar electrical system was installed in October 2003, and a wind turbine back-up generator joined in 2007. The lighthouse now boasts a solar-powered VRB-25 optic with 400,000 candlepower, maintained by the Coast Guard.

Preservation and Recognition

Race Point Lighthouse earned its rightful place in history when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Race Point Light Station on June 15, 1987 (reference number 87001482). This prestigious recognition highlights the lighthouse's profound historical and cultural significance, cementing its legacy for future generations.

Experience Race Point Lighthouse Today

Visitors today have several routes to reach Race Point Lighthouse, each offering a unique perspective on this maritime icon. Many choose to embark on a scenic walk to the lighthouse, with various options available. The leisurely stroll along Race Point Beach spans just over 2 miles one-way, providing breathtaking ocean views. An alternative route is walking along the off-road vehicle (ORV) trail, a slightly quicker 1.7 miles one-way. For those seeking a picturesque trail experience, the Hatches Harbor Trail starts south of the lighthouse and reaches the cast-iron trail in the same 1.7 mile distance.

While these routes are rated as easy, navigating through the sandy terrain can be challenging. Visitors should carry ample water and be mindful of tide schedules. It is not wise to take most dogs during the warmer months due to the lack of shade along the trails.

For a somewhat more adventurous approach, 4-wheel drive enthusiasts with National Seashore ORV Permits can traverse the off-road vehicle trail from the Race Point Beach parking lot to the lighthouse. However, it's essential to note that the trail often closes during the prime summer season to protect piping plovers.

Race Point Lighthouse invites all who seek its historic charm and coastal beauty to embark on a journey to its storied shores. Whether reached by foot or vehicle, this iconic beacon continues to illuminate Cape Cod's northern horizon, just as it has for over two centuries.

Location Features

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Race Point Road, Provincetown, Massachusetts

GPS Coordinates:
42.062317, -70.243130
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
No parking at Race Point Lighthouse. Most visitors walk to the lighthouse on the beach, but it can also be accessed via an oversand vehicle path. Visitors can walk the path or acquire a car pass to drive.


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