The Ultimate Guide to RV Camping in Rhode Island

Travel Inspiration

RV camping in Rhode Island is an exciting way to see the East Coast! You can enjoy some time along the coast, meet friendly new people, and see important sites in the founding of the United States. It may be the smallest state in the country, but Rhode Island promises big adventures.

Not sure where to start in planning your Rhode Island RV camping trip? This article will help! We’ll cover everything from what to bring to where to camp to what to see during your time in the state. We’ve got you covered!

Preparing for RV Camping

The first thing you’ll want to do as you plan your trip is make sure you have an RV! If you don’t have your own RV, you can rent one from RVshare. Next, you’ll want to make sure you have everything packed that you’ll need for your trip.

Choosing the right RV for your needs

Choosing a Rhode Island RV rental is an important first step in your camping plans! Not sure what to rent? Begin by considering the size of your group. If you have a large family or group camping with you, you’ll want a bigger RV like a Class A motorhome or a fifth-wheel trailer. If you’re traveling alone or with one other person, you can rent a much smaller vehicle like a Class B campervan or teardrop trailer.

Next, you’ll want to think about the amenities in your RV or trailer. Larger rigs are also going to have more room for perks like bathrooms, entertainment areas, and kitchens while very small campervans may only have room for a bed.

Also, consider where you’ll be traveling and camping. Narrow, winding roads won’t be easy to travel in a large motorhome or trailer!

You’ll also want to think about how you’ll get around once you set up camp. Does your campground have public transportation or a park shuttle? Are you towing a trailer, so you’ll have the tow vehicle to use once you’ve unhitched. If not, you may need to tow a smaller vehicle behind your rig.

Packing essentials for a successful trip

After you’ve selected an RV, you’ll want to start gathering the items you’ll need for your trip! Packing an RV is a delicate balance of making sure you bring everything you need, but not overpacking and weighing down your rig. Let’s look at what you’ll need to pack for your personal items and what you’ll need to pack for your RV.

Personal Packing List:

  • Clothing – be sure to pack enough for your trip, or enough for between laundry days
  • Toiletries
  • Medications
  • Bug spray or citronella candles
  • Sunscreen
  • First Aid kit
  • Outdoor recreation clothing (hiking boots, bathing suit, or other specialized clothing)
  • Winter or summer accessories (winter hats, gloves, sun hat, etc)
  • Flashlight
  • Entertainment (books, games, movies)
  • Extra batteries
  • Groceries
  • Electronics & chargers
  • Pet supplies
  • Quarters for showers or laundry

Before you begin making your RV packing list, be sure to check your rental listing. Some rentals don’t include dishes, linens, or towels while others give you all that and sometimes even extras like outdoor equipment or camp chairs.

RV Packing List:

  • Pots & pans
  • Dishes
  • Utensils – don’t forget a can opener, bottle opener, spatula, set of knives, etc.
  • Dish towels & sponges
  • Sheets & pillows
  • Bath Towels
  • Tool kit
  • Folding camp chairs
  • Blankets
  • RV leveling blocks
  • Sewer hose and adapter
  • Freshwater hose
  • Surge protector

These are very basic lists to just get you thinking! If you want to see more packing suggestions, check out this RV packing list.

Crescent Beach at Block Island, Rhode Island

Considerations for Camping in Rhode Island

RV driving laws don’t change too much from state to state, but there are a few differences. You’ll want to make sure you know Rhode Island’s laws so you can avoid getting a ticket!

The maximum width of your RV can be up to 102 inches. The maximum motorhome length is 40 feet. The maximum length of a two-vehicle combination (where one vehicle is towing another) is 60 feet. Passengers are allowed to ride in truck campers. Overnight parking is allowed in rest areas unless signs are posted saying otherwise.

As far as general Rhode Island driving laws, all passengers must use seat belts. Children under 4 must have child-restraint systems and children under 6 must be properly restrained in the back seat.

Researching campground options and making reservations

After you have your RV secured, you can start looking for campgrounds in Rhode Island to visit! Sites like RoverPass, BookOutdoors, Campspot, and The Dyrt. Harvest Hosts and Hipcamp have unique campground options like wineries and farms. Whatever camping experience you want to have, you’ll find something in Rhode Island!

Finding Campgrounds

As you look for RV campgrounds in Rhode Island, you’ll likely find a variety of options. If you want to go upscale, there are luxury campgrounds in the state that you can book. You’ll also find plenty of primitive camping away from everyone, or urban campgrounds in the middle of the bustling city.

Exploring public campgrounds in Rhode Island

We’ll first take a look at public campgrounds in Rhode Island. Public campgrounds include those at state and national parks, in national forests, and on other publicly-owned land. They are usually less expensive than private campgrounds, but they also usually have fewer amenities.

Rhode Island doesn’t have any national parks or forests (it is the smallest state, after all!), but let’s take a look at the public campgrounds they do have!

State Park Camping

Rhode Island has several state parks, which offer hiking, fishing, and plenty of other outdoor activities! Burlingame State Park has boating on the Watchaug Pond, plus fishing and swimming. You can hike at the 3,000-acre park. If you choose to camp here, you’ll be right next to the Kimball Wildlife Sanctuary.

You can also camp at Charlestown Breachway, East Beach, Fishermen’s Memorial, or George Washington state parks.

Exploring private campgrounds and RV parks

There are also lots of private campgrounds and RV parks where you can camp. State parks like Beavertail State Park, Snake Den State Park, and Lincoln Woods State Park don’t have camping right on-site but there are several nearby private campgrounds.

You’ll find many private campgrounds in the state, and they offer a range of options. You’ll find basic campgrounds with simple amenities like showers and dump stations. But you can also find luxurious glamping sites as well.

Timber Creek RV Resort is just a few miles from beautiful, sandy beaches and is nestled between Newport, Rhode Island and Mystic, Connecticut. It has a swimming pool, basketball and tennis courts, a playground, and a camp store.

Hickory Ridge RV Resort has 40 acres of shady woods and pastoral fields. You’ll also find a pond that’s perfect for canoeing, kayaking, or fishing. The towns of Providence and Newport aren’t far away.

Planning your itinerary

Now that you’ve decided on your RV and your campground, it’s time to take a look at the many different things you can do in Rhode Island! There are lots of things to do here, whether you want to hike and connect with nature, spend a day at a zoo or amusement park, or visit a city like Newport.

Features and attractions in Rhode Island

One of the best ways to get the lay of the land in a new area is by taking a scenic drive! See Rhode Island’s coastal beauty with a drive along Highway 77. You can see views of the ocean, but you’ll also meander through pastures and woods. Stop at a roadside farm stand for some just-picked produce in summer.

You’ll also want to make time to see some of Rhode Island’s notable landmarks.

Fort Adams State Park is right at the mouth of the Newport Harbor. Visit the former army post that has been here since 1799. Take a guided tour of the fort, and then enjoy views of the bay and the harbor. You can also swim, boat, and picnic at the park.

Block Island Southeast Lighthouse is on the southeast corner of Block Island, on top of the Mohegan Bluffs. It’s a National Historic Landmark and you can take a tour of the lighthouse.

Finally, check out Rhode Island’s national sites to learn more about the history of the state. The Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park is made up of several historic sites. The Blackstone River Valley is where industrialization in the U.S. began and the textile mills along the river were the first of their kind in the country.

The Roger Williams National Monument pays tribute to the British clergyman who came to Massachusetts in 1631. Williams was an abolitionist who advocated for the separation of church and state and encouraged good relations with local Native Americans. He was expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his beliefs, and he and some followers established a settlement in Rhode Island.

Festivals, fairs, and events in Rhode Island

You may want to plan your Rhode Island RV camping trip around an event in the state. Events like the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, the Washington County Fair, or PVDFest in Providence are all great times to visit the state. Many festival venues allow RV camping right at the site. If you can’t do that, there are lots of RV campgrounds in Providence or other places where these events take place.

You can even check and see if the owner of your RV rental will set your RV up for you at the campground. Some owners offer this service for a fee, and it means you can arrive and get right to the festivities!

Exploring Outdoor Activities in Rhode Island

You’ll definitely want to spend time outdoors in Rhode Island! This magical New England spot has lots of outside activities, from splashing in the ocean to hiking local trails. Regardless of which outdoor activity you choose, you’ll find a way to connect with nature on a Rhode Island camping trip.

Hiking, biking, and nature trails

Hiking is a wonderful way to explore the state, and it’s an inexpensive activity the whole family can participate in! Here are some of the best hiking trails in Rhode Island.

If you’d rather ride a mountain bike than hike, here are some trails for you to try!

If none of these trails suit you or your family well, there are tons of other options on AllTrails that you can try!

Fishing, boating, and water activities

If you’re wanting to spend some time on the water in Rhode Island, there are plenty of places to do that as well! Here are some of the best water-based activities you’ll find in Rhode Island.

You’ll find lots of fishing in Rhode Island. Watchaug Pond is known to have largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and chain pickerel. You might also catch smallmouth bass, northern pike, black bullhead, or yellow perch there. Colt State Park and Beavertail State Park are also great options for catching fish.

Rhode Island also has some great beaches where you can relax and enjoy the sun and sand. Easton’s Beach has plenty of sand and areas for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. Scarborough State Beach North and Scarborough State Beach South have pavilions with restrooms, plus a boardwalk, an observation tower, and picnic tables.

Finally, spend some time admiring Rhode Island’s many waterfalls! Blackstone Dam was important as a power source during the Industrial Revolution. Pawtucket Falls is next to a small city park where you can relax and enjoy the view. Ponaganset Falls is at the end of the Barden Reservoir and is a lovely spot for a picnic.

Wildlife viewing and photography

Rhode Island is teeming with wildlife if you know where to look! You can see coyotes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and a wide variety of birds in the woods and other areas of the state. Since Rhode Island is on the coast, you can watch for a variety of sea animals as well including dolphins, beaked whales, and harbor seals.

Some excellent places to visit and watch for wildlife include the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge where you can watch for migratory birds, the Napatree Point Conservation Area, and the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge.

Family-friendly activities and attractions

Are you on your Rhode Island RV camping trip with kids and family? There are tons of family-friendly activities that everyone will enjoy! Whether you’re headed to a city like Providence or Newport, want to spend an educational day at a museum, or want the thrills of a local amusement park you’ll find something to do in Rhode Island.

Historical sites and museums

If you want to combine education with fun, spend a day at a local historical site in Rhode Island, or a museum! The Touro Synagogue National Historic Site is an architecturally distinguished building that was built in 1763 as a place for the earliest Jewish settlers to worship. Bowen’s Wharf features 18th-century commercial wharf buildings and brick walks and is a great place to learn about Rhode Island’s seafaring history.

Rhode Island also has some excellent museums where you can learn more about a variety of topics. Some of the best museums in the state include:

  • The National Museum of American Illustration
  • The Lippitt House Museum
  • The International Tennis Hall of Fame
  • The RISD Museum

Amusement parks, zoos, and wildlife refuges

If you and your family want to spend a fun day riding rollercoasters or watching animals, Rhode Island has plenty of amusement parks, zoos, and other entertaining places!

Atlantic Beach Park is a beachside park with a historic carousel, plus other fun rides. There are places to grab ice cream or a snack as well. ​Adventureland Family Fun Park has mini golf, bumper boats and cars, a carousel, and more.

The Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence is home to more than 100 species from around the world. Pet an armadillo or catch a glimpse of New England’s only Komodo dragon. If you want to spot animals in the wild, the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge or the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge are great places to do that.

Safety and Preparedness when RV Camping in Rhode Island

Although we have no doubt you will love your RV camping trip in Rhode Island, it’s best to know about the weather and natural disasters that are common to the state. That way, you can be prepared in an emergency! Here are the most common threats and what you can do to stay safe while RVing.

Weather conditions and natural disaster preparedness

The most common natural disasters to affect Rhode Island are tropical storms and hurricanes, winter storms, and floods. If you’re in Rhode Island and there is a threat of a tropical storm or hurricane, the best thing to do is leave the area before the storm. If you can’t do that, move to higher ground. Do not plan to ride out a hurricane in an RV – seek shelter in a more permanent building. Move away from the coast. Also, stay away from hills that could have landslides during a tropical storm. Stay away from windows and close curtains to protect yourself from broken glass.

If there is flooding, use caution when driving. Flooded areas can be deceptive and vehicles can get stuck when driving where the water doesn’t look like it’s that deep. Check local weather reports so you know when the rain will stop.

Wildlife encounters and precautions

If you encounter wildlife while in Rhode Island, give the animals plenty of room! Don’t let children or pets run ahead of you on nature trails.

If you’re headed to the beaches of Rhode Island, be careful of rip currents that can pull you away from the beach. Shark attacks are very rare, but check for news of shark activity and follow posted signs for the area. Stay in groups in the water. If you spot a shark, stay calm and paddle away smoothly.

More likely than sharks, however, is the danger of sun exposure at the beach. Wear plenty of sun protection and stay hydrated!

Although it’s a small state, there’s lots to see and experience in Rhode Island! Hopefully, this guide has helped you to plan a wonderful trip to the state. RV camping is a unique experience that’s sure to create lifelong memories for you and your camping companions.

More Inspiration for Your Rhode Island Travels

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