Rhode Island might be the smallest of the 50 states, but that just makes it easier to travel between its extensive number of adventure hotspots and through a whopping 400 miles of sandy coastline. Camping in Rhode Island is more than worth it for the diversity of outdoor recreation opportunities alone. Within the 1,212 square miles they call home, Rhode Islanders can enjoy hiking the green, lake-speckled hillsides of the New England Uplands, explore the dozens of rivers in the north that feed into Narragansett Bay, venture south toward the Seaboard Lowlands to breathe in salty sea air, and head offshore to navigate 38 islands by boat, kayak, and more.
The Ocean State earned its nickname for a reason, and any fan of marine fun will especially love camping in Rhode Island. Make your way to historic Newport for a quintessential New England experience. Also known as the City by the Sea, the nine-village coastal community’s manicured mansions, cobbled streets, and pristine beaches make it the picture of Gilded Age resort life.
Visitors flock to Newport beaches like Easton’s for family picnics, kite flying, and boogie boarding. Head to Gooseberry for a calm and luxurious day of sunbathing. Visit the dog-friendly Fogland to enjoy a day of stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and windsurfing. Don’t forget to stop by Sachuest (also called Second Beach) to find the longest beach in Rhode Island, surfable waves, and a shoreline RV campground with hot showers. Retreat to one of two state parks for quiet camping, or find community at nearby Melville Ponds Campground.
The belle of Newport’s ball sits at the north end of town on Narragansett Bay. Fort Adams State Park not only draws music-festival-lovers for the annual summer Jazz Fest and Folk Festival, but also attracts people year-round for swimming, kayaking, boating, and more.
The Department of Parks & Recreation runs five campgrounds throughout the state that make it easy to find camping in Rhode Island. Pitch your tent at Burlingame State Park, the state’s first official campground, which offers space for 700 rustic campsites and access to freshwater swimming, fishing, canoeing, and hiking trails beneath towering trees—as well as a camp store in case you left anything at home.
No matter how you want to go camping in Rhode Island, The Dyrt can help you find the best place for it.
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If you have a self-contained RV (no pop-up/canvas; permanent toilets/water tanks), like the beach, fishing, boating, and/or windsurfing, this may just be the park for you. It is nothing more than a parking lot with no hookups and only composting toilets available, but you get access to Block Island Sound and all that it offers. Sites 58-75 are waterfront. For Rhode Island residents, the price can't be beat, and it's fair for out-of-staters, too, because of the location
No animals permitted. Generators only 8a-8p. Clam shack, marina, deli, and ice cream place nearby, but I doubt you'll want to fight the traffic on a summer day.
I've never camped in Rhode Island, so I was curious to see what a state park campground had to offer. Rates are reasonable for state residents, but quite high if you are out-of-state, given the amenities. There are no hookups, but dump stations are available. Bathrooms have flush toilets and coin-operated showers. There's a small beach at the pond, a boat ramp, and proximity to wildlife refuges and the ocean. It's a HUGE campground, with 700 sites and 20 cabins. Canoes are available to rent.
There's a nice playground, a camp store, and a naturalists cabin. Trails are available for hiking and biking. The beach is sandy and there's a small parking lot there, but I suspect most people walk to it. No alcohol allowed.
I didn't see more than a handful of level sites, with varying degrees of slope, but many are quite large. If you have an RV, plan to level; if you have a tent, be sure to bring good mattresses to protect you from the roots and rocks and orient your head to the uphill side. Most of the sites have some degree of visual separation from their neighbors, but there are places where it's hard to tell where one site ends and the next one starts. Site have fire rings and picnic tables, but if you plan to cook over the fire, bring your own grate or plan to use sticks and/or aluminum foil.
If you don't have a tent, consider reserving one of their rustic cabins. These offer two sets of bunks (no mattresses) and a small porch with a picnic table and fire ring outside. Some are located along the pond.
3-4 bar cell phone coverage. No road traffic. East Beach is nearby, but parking fills early.
I read the reviews and was excited to be in a state park near the water for such a reasonable price. Imagine my surprise when we found out that a water/electric site for an out of state camper was $45 per night! This was our first visit to a Rhode Island State Park so not sure if they are all like this but this one definitely caters to Rhode Island residents who camp in large RVs! The sites with the best views are the full hookups (water/electric/sewer) and the rates for out of state campers are significantly more than for residents. I’m used to paying $5 or even $10 more for being from out of state but here the fee is double or more for out-of-state campers. Geez– way to make us feel welcome!
There are four areas, and each has advantages and disadvantages. Area One has the best views and full hookups but there is no bathhouse; Area Two also has full hookups, no view and some of the sites (55-65) are decidedly not level; Area Three is for tents only with no hookups but is close to the bathhouse; Area Four has water and electric hookups, the pads are not paved (as in the others) but most of the sites have more separation than in the other sections. See the photo below to understand the different areas.
No matter where you camp, there are noise issues. Road noise continued throughout the night and there is a wind turbine on the property. I’ve never been this close to one and yes, there is noise, although the road noise bothered me more. Alcohol is prohibited throughout the campground. There are pay showers available. There are the remains of two bunkers but other than walking by them, you cannot go inside. One (in Area One) is a grassy knoll with stairs to a lookout.
On the plus side: The bathrooms were clean, there is excellent cell service, Judith Point lighthouse is nearby, it is close to the ferry to Block Island, and there are numerous recreation options available (playground, tennis courts, volleyball net, and basketball courts). Also, the grouchy staffer I read about in reviews was not there the night we arrived and, in fact, the two staffers were very friendly and even recommended a good restaurant in the nearby town.
The Preserve Club and Residences is a members/owners only community which is New England's most amenity rich properties, in fact it may be the only place in the world that has such a diverse amount of outdoor offerings. Check it out.
The campground is large with most areas that are in the trees and shade being seasonal. That being said, we still had a nice site. The staff is very friendly and responsive. There are is a lot to do, especially for kids, including a train ride through the campground twice a day. There is a nice pool, Boce ball, horseshoes, an arcade and mini golf. They have weekend activities and music and apparently it gets very busy. We stayed during the week, and it was quiet. Bathrooms were clean and showers free.
Pros: Nice campground with big private spots. Nice bathhouse with pay showers. Pretty, man made lake with a beach area for swimming and paddling. Cons: no hook-ups yet it cost $36 for out of state residents plus the fees which put it up to $44. Also only one bathhouse so port-a-potties along the road. Another thing we found was that the park staff here and elsewhere in RI were very lacking in knowledge about basically anything. Overall a nice place but pricey for anyone but RI residents.