Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are state parks and beaches open or closed?
To protect public health and safety, the Governor announced the temporary closure of Rhode Island state parks and beaches beginning Friday, April 3. As of Monday, June 1 all state parks and all saltwater beaches, except Scarborough South, are now open with limitations in place. The number of parking spots will be reduced, and parking gates may need to be closed at times depending on beach capacity.
State beaches will be open daily until Labor Day. Lifeguards are on duty and concessions, beach pavilions, and restrooms are open, although portajohns may be needed at some locations. Online beach pass sales are now available at www.riparks.com/beachpass for individuals to purchase resident, non-resident and senior season beach passes. Parking charges are in effect and the number of parking spots will be reduced at most locations. Parking gates may need to be closed at times depending on beach capacity. New this year, beach attendants will be collecting parking fees until 6 PM daily. Given the serious nature of COVID-19, DEM will continue to provide any needed updates regarding changes to this guidance.
Q: Why has Rhode Island reopened some state parks and beaches?
We recognize the value of spending time in nature. Getting outdoors to walk, jog, hike, ride a bicycle, or fish is a healthy way to stay active, spend time with household members, and reduce stress while practicing physical distancing.
Q: How might my park experience be different now?
We understand the importance of getting outdoors but ask that you practice social distancing and avoid group activities. All playgrounds, athletic courts, and sporting fields in state facilities are CLOSED. These measures are being taken for the safety of all visitors and to stop the spread of COVID-19.
We have made changes to park capacity, access points and traffic flow patterns, and limited some park hours to keep our guests safe and healthy. The future status of parks and the availability of facilities will be determined by whether everyone is following all the precautions.
Q: How might my beach experience be different now?
This is a unique season and the beach experience will be different. While enjoying outdoor spaces, beachgoers must continue to follow the CDC and RI Department of Health guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19:
- If you’re not feeling well, stay home! Signs and symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
- Whether in the sand or the waves, beachgoers will be required to follow physical distancing guidelines and remain at least 6 feet from others outside their household.
- For the safety of all visitors, please have a face covering with you and wear it in public areas and if you are within 6 feet of another person who is outside your household. The only exceptions from these rules are for people with disabilities, anyone whose health would be in jeopardy because of wearing a face covering, or any children under 2 years old.
- Bring and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs and handrails.
The number of parking spots will be reduced at most locations. Parking gates may need to be closed at times depending on beach capacity. New this year, beach attendants will be collecting parking fees until 6 PM daily. These measures are being taken for the safety of all visitors and staff and to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Q: What locations remain closed?
The following state beachs is closed until June 20:
- Scarborough South Beach, Narragansett
The following state campgrounds and camping areas are closed:
- Burlingame State Campground, Charlestown
- Charlestown Breachway, Charlestown
- East Beach Campground, Charlestown
- Fishermen's Memorial State Park and Campground, Narragansett
- George Washington State Campground, Glocester
- Arcadia Management Area (Frosty Hollow shelter, backpack camping area, and horseman's campground), Exeter
Q: What's the reason for not opening all areas?
DEM wants to do this right. By opening some areas and monitoring how it goes, we can devote the staff resources to locations, and make sure the physical distancing rules and safe practices are going well before we open the entire system.
Q: When will ALL parks/beaches/campgrounds be open?
DEM is opening areas gradually. We hope to reopen all remaining areas, with new restrictions, by the end of June.
Q: Why are you encouraging short visits?
We encourage people to limit their visits to allow more people to use the park, without crowding. (Also, remember that public restrooms will remain closed. Portajohns may be available in some locations.)
Q: How will you determine the number of visitors allowed into parks/beaches?
DEM is looking at the overall capacity of areas and working to ensure that we allow access without crowding. The capacity of individual parks and beaches is being determined by several factors and will be lessened or increased depending on whether visitors are following precautions.
Q. If I can’t go to the park or beach, what can I do?
A. People are encouraged to recreate close to home – in their backyards, on their stoop, or a walk around the block. Together with partners, DEM has developed a list of 50 fun, nature-based activities that Rhode Islanders can engage in at home or in their backyards or local neighborhoods. The activities are for all ages and can be done individually or with family members. The complete list is available online in both English and Spanish, and includes apps and virtual learning opportunities, reading and educator resources, DIY and home projects, and outdoor activities. View the list
Q: Are state management areas still open?
A: Yes. Management areas remain open. We ask all Rhode Islanders stay local, and limit travel whenever possible, even for approved recreation activities. If you do go to a refuge, preserve, management area or other open spaces, and see that parking is limited or lots are full, you should change your plans and take your walk back home. Given the serious nature of COVID-19, DEM will continue to provide any needed updates regarding changes to this guidance.
Q: Are bike paths still open?
Currently the bike paths are open. However, this is a situation that will be monitored very closely and may change in the future. Please remember that parking areas at parks and beaches are closed. We ask that people avoid bike paths if they are crowded and maintain social distancing and groups of no more than five. Given the serious nature of COVID-19, DEM will continue to provide any needed updates regarding changes to this guidance.
Q: What activities are not allowed?
Gatherings of more than 15 people and events are not allowed. Also, all playgrounds, athletic courts, and sporting fields in state facilities are CLOSED. This measure is taken for the safety of all visitors and to stop the spread of COVID-19. Park visitors should maintain 6 feet of social distance and visit parks for solitary recreational activities only.
Q: How will DEM enforce this? Will people be ticketed? Fined?
Although law enforcement personnel have the authority to enforce social distancing and group size guidance, we hope that visitors will take personal responsibility and make sure they comply. DEM always tries to educate first and ask people to follow the rules. However, if people are blatantly ignoring the new rules and one our Environmental Police Officers observes that behavior, yes, they may be cited if actions and behavior are not corrected. It would be a civil violation – the equivalent of a traffic ticket. If our Parks are overrun with too many visitors who are not practicing social distancing or adhering to recommended group sizes, we may be forced to once again close parks.
Q: What do I do if I see people congregating/not physically distancing?
We recommend that you maintain physical distancing guidance and do not approach groups who may be in violation. If you see something in a park that needs attention, please safely notify a staff member – for an emergency call (401) 222-3070. If you have questions or suggestions for us, please send them to email@example.com.
RI has established a hotline for questions concerning COVID-19. You can reach the hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or (401) 222-8022 (Monday-Saturday 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM).
Q: Are state campgrounds open?
The opening of state campgrounds is delayed until June 15 at the earliest and DEM has suspended all new camping reservations through June 30, 2020. The state’s reservation agent, Reserve America, is contacting those with reservations during this period with information about the cancellations. We are waiving all cancelation fees and issuing full refunds.
Q: Why don’t you have trash bins?
We believe that everyone who enjoys parks, beaches, and public outdoor spaces has a responsibility to keep them clean. Since 1992 RI State Parks has encouraged visitors to adhere to the carry-in/carry-out trash policy that asks visitors to take personal responsibility, take their trash with them, and leave no trace behind. This policy is consistent with the National Park Service and most state park systems across the country as a best practice because it promotes conservation, fosters a sense of stewardship, and leads to better visitor experiences.
Q: When will the golf course at Goddard Memorial State Park open?
(updated 6/1) The Goddard Memorial Golf Course is open daily. No walk-ins. Golfers must secure a tee time and follow new guidelines. Learn more here.
Q: What guidance can you offer regarding fishing season?
During the COVID-19 public health emergency, fishing should be enjoyed as a solitary experience, with just the members of your immediate household, and not as a group activity. Anglers must maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others. If you arrive at a favorite fishing spot and find that crowds are forming or the parking lot is full, please leave and choose a different location or return at another time or day. Learn more about the freshwater fishing season
Q. Are DEM boat ramps open?
Yes, excluding ramps located within state park areas that remain closed. Outdoor activities, including boating, are a great way to relax and enjoy nature. However, please remember that physical distancing guidelines still apply. All boaters are encouraged to consider the size of the vessel, the number of people on board, and the ability of people to stay 6 or more feet apart. As a reminder: when on the water, personal floatation devices should always be worn.
Visit DEM’s website for a list of public boat launching sites. Given the serious nature of COVID-19, DEM will continue to provide any needed updates regarding changes to this guidance.
If you need to register your boat or renew your boat registration please use the online portal. Upon completion of the online renewal, boat owners will be able to print a temporary registration that allows the vessel to be used during the two-week period while the registration is being processed and the decal mailed.
Boaters can register new vessels by mail by filling out a registration application, outboard motor registration application, and title application. Required registration documents are located here.
State and federal government recommendations for minimizing the spread of the coronavirus are changing rapidly from day to day. DEM will continue to monitor developments closely and will make further adjustments to state park and management area operations as needed. Thank you for your understanding during this difficult time.