The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced a plan for reopening state parks in a graduated manner during the first phase of reopening Rhode Island’s economy. While DEM will be staggering park openings, reducing the size of parking areas and restricting hours of operation and activities to prevent crowds, many diverse and varied outdoor spaces will be open for Rhode Islanders to safely enjoy while adhering to the Governor’s guidance on not gathering in groups and practicing social distancing. DEM hopes to reopen all parks by the end of May. A second phase will involve the saltwater beaches.

“DEM is pleased to begin a gradual reopening of our beautiful state parks to visitors this month,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “In the first phase, places like Lincoln Woods, Haines Park, Snake Den, Beavertail, and Fort Adams will be open, providing opportunities to recreate across Rhode Island. There’s no better physical and emotional elixir than fresh air and sunshine, especially during these challenging times.”

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, visiting parks should be enjoyed as a solitary experience, with just the members of your immediate household, and not as a group activity. Keep recreation activities to walking, hiking, biking and others that can be done in small groups. Park visitors must follow social distancing practices and maintain a distance of at least six feet from others. If you arrive at a favorite park 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.

As we navigate this public health crisis, DEM is encouraging Rhode Islanders to recreate locally, practice social distancing, and use common sense measures to protect themselves and others. 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 when in high use public areas. • 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 when soap and water are not available. • Avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs and handrails.

To enhance physical social distancing at popular parks, trailheads, and scenic areas, DEM is reducing the number of available parking spaces at certain parks. Patrons are advised to have a plan ready to visit a different park or another park area if needed.

People should maintain distance from others while in places where visitors tend to congregate, such as parking lots, trailheads, and scenic overlooks. Park visitors should keep to recreation activities such as walking, hiking, biking and avoid games and activities that require close contact, such as basketball, football, or soccer. DEM also asks that visitors bring a suitable trash bag and leave no trash behind in order to protect park workers and avoid litter.

DEM is asking people to be good stewards and take personal responsibility. For the safety of all visitors, people should bring along a face covering when in public. While wearing masks are not needed while jogging, fishing or playing outdoors – visitors will need to wear face coverings in high use areas and if they are within six feet of another person outside their household.

The following parks are likely to open when the first phase of reopening begins: • Beavertail State Park, Jamestown* • Black Regiment Monument, Portsmouth • Burlingame State Park, Charlestown* • Cocumcussoc Park, North Kingstown • Fort Adams State Park, Newport* • Fort Wetherill State Park, Jamestown* • 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

*Parking capacity has been reduced to limit the number of visitors at the park to limit crowding and support social distancing.

Please note that public restrooms in parks will remain closed in Phase 1. Porta johns may be available in some locations.

Boat launch sites are open where conditions allow. Other state park and beach locations will remain closed until further notice. All State Park playgrounds, athletic courts, and sporting fields are closed to ensure public safety and stop the spread of COVID-19. The Goddard Memorial Golf Course remains closed. All public programming and events have been canceled until further notice.

Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis DEM has closed most indoor spaces including visitor centers, nature centers, and historic houses. All campsites, cabins and pavilions/shelters are closed through May 31 and DEM has suspended all new camping reservations for the 2020 season until further notice. All visitors with reservations through May 31 will be issued a full refund.

DEM advises everyone to follow guidance about COVID-19 from Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Health. More information about COVID-19 and Rhode Island’s response can be found here: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/

For outdoor recreation updates, visit http://riparks.com/covid19.php

For updates on For information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.