Rhode Island State Parks

COVID-19 Updates

Learn more about operational changes and safety guidelines for staying safe at our beautiful state parks, beaches, and campgrounds.

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Reopening State Parks

Getting outdoors and enjoying the beauty of nature are great ways to relieve stress and important to public health. DEM Division of Parks and Recreation recognizes the value of spending time in nature. We are committed to ensuring visitors and staff enjoy safe and memorable experiences at our state parks and beaches. We encourage Rhode Islanders to recreate locally, practice social distancing, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. As the situation continues to develop, we will take any necessary actions to protect visitor and staff health. We appreciate your support and patience as we navigate this public health crisis together.

PHASE I

Updated 5/14/20

The following State Parks are open daily:

  • Beavertail State Park, Jamestown
  • Black Regiment Monument, Portsmouth
  • Brenton Point State Park, Newport
  • Burlingame State Park, Charlestown
  • Colt State Park, Bristol
  • Cocumcussoc Park, North Kingstown
  • Fort Adams State Park, Newport
  • Fort Wetherill State Park, Jamestown
  • Goddard Memorial State Park, Warwick
  • Haines Memorial State Park, East Providence
  • John H. Chafee Nature Preserve, North Kingstown
  • J.L. Curran State Park, Cranston
  • Lehigh High Grove, Portsmouth
  • Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln
  • Meshanticut State Park, Cranston
  • Pulaski State Park, Glocester
  • Purgatory Chasm, Middletown
  • Snake Den State Park, Johnston
  Park FAQs

State Beaches

Updated 9/16/20

RI State Beaches are currently following off-season operations. During the off-season RI State Beaches gates are open and it is free to park, however parking capacity at several state beaches continues to be reduced to prevent crowding. No lifeguards are on duty and beach pavilions are closed. Pavilion bathrooms will close starting Monday, September 21. Portajohns are available at a majority of our locations and will remain as long as weather conditions allow.

State Campgrounds

Updated 6/29/20

Our staff is implementing new procedures to support a safe, accessible camping while supporting physical distancing standards.

Camping FAQs

Parking: To encourage physical/social distancing at popular beaches, parks, trailheads, and scenic areas, RI State Parks has reduced the number of available parking spaces. Have a plan ready to visit a different park or return another day or time.

Closures: (as of 6/29/20) The following locations remain closed until further notice: Ninigret Conservation Area (East Beach Campground), Charlestown

DEM-managed bike paths: the Blackstone River Bikeway, the East Bay Bike Path, Washington Secondary Bike Path – and state management areas remain open. We ask that people avoid these bike paths if they are crowded and maintain social distancing on all bike paths and trails.

Face Coverings: For the safety of all visitors, please have a face covering with you when in public. While you need not wear a mask while jogging or fishing or playing outdoors – you will need to wear one in public areas. You are encouraged to wear a mask if you are within 6 feet of another person who is outside your household. The only exceptions from these rules are for anyone whose health would be in jeopardy because of wearing a face covering or any children under 2 years old.

Playgrounds, Athletic Courts and Sporting Fields: All State Park playgrounds, athletic courts, and sporting fields are CLOSED.

Restrooms: Due to COVID-19 we have closed most indoor spaces - visitor centers, nature centers, historic houses, and public restrooms. Some but not all locations will have portajohns available. Visitors should plan accordingly and call the regional park office for more information.

Golf: (as of 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.

Swimming: (updated 9/16) All saltwater state beaches are following off-season operations. During the off-season RI State Beaches gates are open and it is free to park, however parking capacity at several state beaches continues to be reduced to prevent crowding. No lifeguards are on duty and beach pavilions are closed. Pavilion bathrooms will be close starting Monday, September 21. Portajohns are available at a majority of our locations and will remain as long as weather conditions allow.

Camping: (updated 6/29) Four Rhode Island state campgrounds are open to campers with new restrictions and procedures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Learn more details on the 2020 camping season

Non-surf beaches: (Updated 9/16) Non-surf beaches at Lincoln Woods State Park, Goddard Memorial State Park, the Burlingame Picnic Area, Pulaski State Park, and Fort Adams State Park are following off-season operations. No lifeguards are on duty. There are no fees to access beaches within state parks.

Boat Launches: Boat launch sites are open where conditions allow.

Events: (updated 8/5) Pavilion and picnic table rentals are available for group sizes that adhere to the most up-to-date safety guidelines. Please contact us with questions or submit a special use request. Contact us if you are a business interested in the Take It Outside initiative.

Non-Residents: (updated 6/30) If you are coming to Rhode Island from one of the states listed here with a positivity rate of COVID-19 greater than 5%, you will either have to self-quarantine for 14 days while in Rhode Island, or produce proof of a negative test for COVID-19 that was taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Rhode Island. You may not self-quarantine at a state campground. If you receive a test after arriving in Rhode Island and get a negative test result, you can stop quarantining.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are state parks and beaches open or closed?

All state parks and all saltwater beaches are 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.

RI State Parks are now following regular off-season operations. Maintenance work is ongoing throughout the off-season and all bathroom facilities will be closed for winterization, with the exception of one restroom at Pulaski State Park that will be open when cross country skiing and snowmobiling is active. Portajohns are available in the majority of areas and will remain as long as weather conditions allow. Seasonal closures of roadways to remote areas of parks are also in effect. Please respect all maintenance and off-season related area closures by parking only in designated lots.

During the off-season RI State Beaches gates are open and it is free to park, however parking capacity at several state beaches continues to be reduced to prevent crowding. No lifeguards are on duty and beach pavilions are closed. Pavilion bathrooms will be closed on Monday, September 21. Portajohns are available at a majority of our locations and will remain as long as weather conditions allow.

 

Q: Why are Rhode Island state parks and beaches open?

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: What locations remain closed?

The following state campgrounds and camping areas are closed:

  • East Beach Campground, Charlestown
  • 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: 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 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: Why are you encouraging short visits?

We encourage people to limit their visits to allow more people to use parks, without crowding. (Also, remember that most public restrooms will remain closed. Portajohns may be available in some locations.)

 

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. These measures are being taken for the safety of all visitors and staff and to stop the spread of COVID-19.

 

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. We ask that people avoid bike paths if they are crowded and maintain social distancing. 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 that do not adhere to the latest social gathering group sizes. 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 dem.riparks@dem.ri.gov.

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: 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: Is the golf course at Goddard Memorial State Park open?

(as of 6/1) The Goddard Memorial Golf Course is open daily. No walk-ins. Golfers must reserve 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. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions:
RI State Camgrounds

View state campground policies: COVID-19 Policy Updates Non-Resident Campers Rates Cancellations, Fees, & Refunds Length of Stay Check In/Out & Site Occupancy Pets Know Before You Go Camping Area Descriptions & Specific Requirements

 

Q: Why was the opening of state campgrounds delayed?

The crisis has required us to assess and change many of our operations and timeframes. Our strategy has been aimed at prioritizing the opening of facilities to those that can be accessed by the most people. We started with reopening our network of state parks in May, state swimming areas and saltwater beaches in late-May and June, and welcomed campers back to state campgrounds in late-June.

We have a limited full-time staff and rely on seasonal rangers and park workers to run our facilities. The COVID-19 emergency has contributed to a delayed and challenging recruitment year. Many of the regular duties performed by parks staff – mowing grass, clearing winter debris, opening bathrooms and water lines, hiring and training staff, and other park-related duties – were delayed or disrupted. Also, because more time must be spent this year on sanitizing and cleaning, overall there will be fewer seasonal staff handling many more duties. All of which put our operational planning further behind than in a normal year.

 

Q: Are state campgrounds open?

(updated 6/29) Burlingame, Charlestown Breachway, Fishermen's Memorial, and George Washington state campgrounds are now opened for the season.

 

Q: Why are you not opening camping at East Beach?

East Beach has only 20 campsites that are mostly reserved by non-residents. The Reopening RI guidance would have decreased the number of campsites to ten. We made the decision that staffing and monitoring just ten campsites 24/7 for does not make financial or practical sense this season.

 

Q: Are all campsites available this season?

No. In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, DEM has implemented new procedures to protect staff and visitor health and support a safe, accessible return to camping. In accordance with Reopening RI guidance, DEM assessed the layout of each campground and has set limits on the number of campsites available for reservation to create more room between campsites so campers can maintain physical distancing from others. DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation has reviewed all campsites within the open campgrounds it operates and removed those sites that did not meet the spacing requirements.

DEM has notified campers with reservations at campsites that have been closed and is working to find alternative sites for all campers affected by these closures. DEM state campgrounds are popular destinations, and many are fully booked, particularly during peak times. The Department is providing a full refund to those campers who we are unable to accommodate. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

 

Q: How will my camping trip at a state campground be different this year?

This is a unique season and the camping experience will be different. Whether at check-in or at the camping site, campers will be required to follow social distancing guidelines and remain at least six feet from others outside their household. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, here are a few of the changes that campers will experience:

  • The check-in process may be different as we explore contact-free procedures. Please watch for more information as your reservation date nears.
  • Bathrooms will have occupancy limits and markings to promote physical distancing.
  • All campers must wear a mask in communal spaces, such as camp stores, restrooms, and camp offices.
  • Only six people may camp on one campsite. All campers’ names must be accurately reported upon check-in. This policy will be strictly enforced.
  • Campers will not be allowed to have visitors at the campground as we limit the total number of people in campgrounds to allow campers more space for physical distancing.
 

While enjoying outdoor spaces, residents must continue to follow the CDC and RI Department of Health guidelines for preventing the spread COVID-19:

  • If you’re not feeling well, stay home! Signs and symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and others, even when outdoors.
  • 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.
  • Avoid close contact with others outside your household, such as shaking hands, hugging, or high-fives.
  • 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.
   

Q: Are you accepting walk-ins at state campgrounds?

Yes, however we recommend you make a reservation. While we hope to accommodate walk-in reservations, please keep in mind that we may be unable to do so. Our campgrounds are popular destinations, and many are fully booked especially, during peak times.


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.