Rocky Neck State Park is located off of I-95 in East Lyme, Connecticut. This 710-acre state park is popular with campers and day users for its intimate campsites and easy beach access. First opened in 1931, the state park boasts a beautiful seaside terrain with clear water and sandy beaches. There are 160 wooded and open campsites scattered throughout the park. Many are conveniently within a short walk of the beach.
Here, you will also find the famous stone Ellie Mitchell Pavilion, which was built in the 1930s and sticks out along the park’s western shoreline. A tidal river and plenty of salt water make this area popular with bird watchers and those looking for a quiet nature walk.
Rocky Neck State Park in CT
Many of our The Dyrt campers are among the thousands of people who visit Rocky Neck State Park each year. We have gathered their top tips and compiled them into this single guide to help make your visit here a memorable one.
Great Family Campground
There are activities for all ages to enjoy at Rocky Neck State Park, including hiking, fishing, and relaxing while observing the surrounding wildlife. The beach has a gentle slope with easy access points to the water, ideal for a refreshing salt water swim or a cool place to lounge while soaking up the sun. Picnic areas can be found throughout the campground and the along beach, allowing groups to gather comfortably for meals. Here are a few ideas about what you can make for your next picnic or group camping feast.
“My family has camped at Rocky Neck State Park every year since I was a child. It’s a great family campsite with great access to tons of activities.” ~ Mauricio R.
Campsites Are Small
Some of the 160 campsites at Rocky Neck State Park can fit RVs, but many are on the smaller side. This provides campers with a more intimate camping experience. Less gravel and more wildlife. Much of the campground was built in this way to preserve the natural appeal of the park. If you do have a large RV, and you want to camp here, reserving your spot is a good way to make sure that you get a site that will accommodate your camp setup.
“Many of the campsites were on the smaller side accommodating mostly tents and pop-ups. We found one in the Osprey loop that was shaded and fit our RV.” ~ Christy C.
Get to the Beach Early
The beach near Rocky Neck State Park is public, open to campers and day-use visitors alike. It can get crowded. Since the beach is just a quick walk from the campground, you should aim to get to there early to snag the perfect spot for your beach towel and umbrella. If you just want to stop by for an hour or two then this might not be necessary, but if you plan on spending the day it is highly recommended.
“Beautiful beach, but it can be crowded on nice days so get there early if you want a spot.” ~ Michelle D.
Stick to the Speed Limit
The campground is located in an area that is often patrolled by the local and state police. All of the camp roads are paved, and young children are often biking and coloring with chalk in the road. To avoid an expensive ticket, and more important for everyone’s safety, keep your speed in check. Here are a few additional ideas about how to make sure everyone at the campground stays safe and has a good time.
“The speed limit is enforced by both the local and state police. The fines are very stiff. Plus, there are always young children playing in the road, so stick to the speed limit.” ~ John D.
Take a Walk
Hiking and nature trails are abundant throughout Rocky Neck State Park. Many of the trails lead to the scenic salt marshes and small seaside inlets, like Baker’s Cave and Tony’s Nose. The bird watching here is incredible, too, so bring your binoculars and look for cranes, herons, osprey, and more.
“There are lots of beautiful hiking trails along the coastline. Enjoy!” ~ Timothy R.
Avoid the Busy Arrival and Departure Times
Rocky Neck State Park is popular with both campers and day users, who enter the park through the same front gates. Traffic jams often occur, and the parking lots fill up to capacity quickly. Arrive early if you want to score a spot in the lot, especially on the weekends. To avoid waiting in line to check in, it also helps to arrive a little earlier or later than you might have originally planned.
“During the typical arrival and departure times, traffic jams often occur because you’re in line with carloads of beachgoers. The beach and all the parking lots fill up fast. Get there early!” ~ John D.