The Rhode Island state campgrounds, managed by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), have emerged as key attractions in the state’s outdoor recreation landscape.
According to a Providence Journal report, in 2023, these campgrounds hosted a remarkable 83,629 campers, underscoring their growing popularity and importance in the outdoor hospitality sector.
Rhode Island’s state campgrounds offer a diverse range of camping experiences, catering to various preferences. From seaside stays with ample facilities to more primitive woodland retreats and undeveloped beach sites for camper enthusiasts, these campgrounds provide an array of options for outdoor enthusiasts.
Burlingame State Campground in Charlestown stands as the largest among the state’s offerings. With 745 sites, it has become a favorite for many campers.
In 2023, Burlingame reported an impressive occupancy rate, ranging from 85-90% in July and 75-85% in August.
This high demand reflects its appeal, driven by its location on Watchaug Pond and proximity to popular state beaches like Misquamicut State Beach, Charlestown Breachway, and East Matunuck State Beach.
Despite lacking water or electricity hookups, the campground’s amenities, including a playground, arcade, freshwater beach, boat ramp, canoe rentals, and hiking trails, make it a sought-after destination. Additionally, Burlingame offers rustic cabins, though early booking is essential due to their popularity.
Another standout is the Fishermen’s Memorial State Campground in Narragansett. Known for its high occupancy, this campground was fully booked for almost every day during the summer season.
DEM spokesman Michael Healey highlighted its status as the most popular campground based on occupancy. Its allure is attributed to its strategic location near Scarborough, Roger Wheeler, and Salty Brine state beaches, and its range of family-friendly activities, including basketball and tennis courts.
The George Washington State Campground in Glocester, Charlestown Breachway State Campground in Charlestown, and East Beach State Campground in Charlestown also contribute to the state’s camping appeal. Each offers unique experiences, from serene woodland settings to beachside camping, catering to a broad spectrum of camping enthusiasts.
The surge in camper attendance at these state campgrounds reflects a broader trend in the outdoor recreation industry. As more individuals seek outdoor experiences, campgrounds like those in Rhode Island are becoming increasingly vital to the industry. They not only provide recreational opportunities but also contribute significantly to the local economy.
This trend is particularly beneficial for campground, glamping, and RV park owners, as well as outdoor hospitality operators. The rising popularity of state campgrounds can serve as a model for private campground operators, offering insights into camper preferences and the types of amenities and experiences that are most in demand.
For the outdoor recreation industry, the success of Rhode Island’s state campgrounds is a clear indicator of the sector’s potential for growth. It highlights the importance of investing in quality facilities, diverse camping experiences, and the maintenance of natural resources.
As the outdoor hospitality sector continues to evolve, the experiences of Rhode Island’s state campgrounds offer valuable lessons. Emphasizing a balance between preserving natural beauty and providing modern amenities is key to attracting and retaining campers.
Featured image from Rhode Island State Parks.