PROVIDENCE, RI – Memorial Day Weekend is the official kick-off of the summer beach season, and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is encouraging residents to buy their state beach parking pass well in advance of their visit. Beaches passes can be purchased by visiting the DEM website.
All state beaches, except for Scarborough South State Beach, will be open daily starting Saturday, May 28, through Labor Day. Once purchased, season passes do not go into immediate effect. It takes up to 24 hours during the summer months for the buyer’s residency status to be verified to charge the correct fee and for the pass to be validated. DEM urges beachgoers to plan ahead and buy their passes earlier in the week if they’re going to the beach on the weekend. Individuals may purchase resident, non-resident, or senior season beach passes online, as well as daily flex passes, which allow for one-day parking. As has been the case for several years, Scarborough South will not officially open until Saturday, June 19; lifeguards, beach staff, concessions, and restrooms will be available at that time.
“I love summer, I love going to the beach, and Rhode Island has the best state beaches anywhere,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Although the weather forecast for opening weekend is a little iffy, this summer promises plenty of hot, hazy days when families and friends can come to the beach, relax, forget their troubles for a few hours, and enjoy themselves.”
“Many Rhode Islanders’ happiest memories originate with friends and family at state beaches, and DEM is committed to ensuring that these are safe and fun experiences,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “The opening of our beaches is always a favorite time of year. We encourage beachgoers — Rhode Islanders and out-of-state visitors alike — to help ease traffic flow and prevent tie-ups at beach entrances by buying their parking passes well in advance before going to the beach.”
Scarborough North, Roger Wheeler, Salty Brine, East Matunuck, Charlestown Breachway, East Beach, and Misquamicut state beaches will be open daily from 9 AM to 6 PM on weekdays and 8:30 AM to 6 PM on weekends and holidays, weather permitting. Scarborough South in Narragansett will open daily on June 19 until August 21. After August 21, this beach will be open weekends-only through September 6. Other facilities open daily, weather permitting, beginning on May 28 through Labor Day include the beaches at Lincoln Woods State Park, Goddard Memorial State Park, Pulaski Park, and Fort Adams State Park. Labor Day is the last day of the season that state beaches will be staffed with lifeguards and rangers and restrooms will be closed and winterized for the season.
To help reduce the amount of time beachgoers spend at the entry booths, DEM is encouraging Rhode Islanders to buy season and daily flex passes online or in well in advance of their visit. These passes go on sale online annually in January. Prepaid customers may use the express lanes at beaches for speedier access. Purchasing season or daily flex passes online also will help DEM keep the express lanes open, as there have been past instances when the express lanes could not be used because too many people were paying for parking at the entry gates rather using pre-paid parking passes. Express lanes are available at all state beaches except for East Beach, Charlestown Breachway, and Salty Brine, which are one-lane facilities.
DEM’s parking vendor employs license plate recognition (LPR) technology at the express lanes whereby a scan is taken of the rear license plates of prepaid customers confirming that the customer has paid to allow for quick entry. Please allow space for the car at the gate space for the reader to recognize the license plate. Driving bumper to bumper will cause the system to fault, requiring an attendant to manually enter the plate, and slow the flow of cars. Season passes no longer require a physical pass to be placed on vehicle windshields as passes are now electronically connected to an individual’s license plate.
Online daily flex passes allow beachgoers to save their payment information into their beach parking account and daily flex passes allow for one-day parking. This flex pass is a great option if you are unsure how many times you may be able to visit the beach but would like the opportunity to use the express lanes.
Along with the online option, season beach parking passes may be purchased in person at the Scarborough State Beach overflow lot from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM Monday through Friday. Season passes are not for sale at state beach entrance booths. DEM urges customers purchasing day passes at the entrance booths or customers purchasing a season pass at the overflow lot to have their money and documents ready to show the attendant to allow for these transactions to occur quickly and efficiently. Online credit card purchases are charged a 6% transaction charge; the total for a $30 RI resident season pass purchased online is $31.80. DEM asks customers purchasing a season pass in-person at the overflow lot to have their registration information ready to show the attendant to allow for these transactions to occur quickly and efficiently. Transactions before June 1 may take 7-10 business days to be confirmed following purchase. Transactions after June 1 until Labor Day are up to 24 hours.
The daily beach parking fee (now known as a flex pass when purchased online) for residents is $6 on weekdays and $7 on weekends and holidays and $10 weekday and $15 for weekends and holidays at Misquamicut State Beach. The fee for a season pass for residents is $30 and is available for purchase through Labor Day. Non-resident parking is $12 on weekdays and $14 on weekends and holidays and $20 weekdays and $30 weekends and holidays at Misquamicut State Beach. A season pass is $60 for non-residents. A 50% discount on daily parking fees and season passes applies for senior citizens 65 years and older. Fees are based solely on the vehicle registration (i.e., license plate) of each vehicle entering beach facilities or purchasing a season beach parking pass. All Rhode Island-registered vehicles will be subject to resident parking rates; non-Rhode Island plates will be subject to non-resident rates. (By law, a “vehicle” is defined as any street-legal equipment, motorized or non-motorized, properly registered for over-the-road travel.)
No-cost disability passes are available for those who are eligible. Please contact RI State Parks Headquarters at 401-667-6200 for questions on how to obtain this pass and to make an appointment.
Carry-in/Carry-Out Trash Policy
Everyone who enjoys parks, beaches, and public outdoor spaces has a responsibility to keep them clean. All DEM properties have a carry-in/carry-out trash policy. This policy has been in effect since 1992. We ask all visitors to come prepared to secure their trash in their own containers and dispose of it properly when they return home. This simple measure helps minimize litter, reduces nuisance wildlife issues, and prevents trash and plastics from entering into coastal waters. “The carry-in/carry-out policy is a best practice across the country because it promotes conservation, fosters a sense of stewardship, and leads to better visitor experiences,” said Director Gray.
DEM continues to accept applications for seasonal positions including qualified lifeguards for state beach facilities. Entry seasonal positions are still available at numerous locations throughout the state. All lifeguard positions require certification and special training in first aid, CPR, and senior lifesaving.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.