Beavertail State Park

Jamestown, Rhode Island
Beavertail State Park, at the southern end of Conanicut Island in Jamestown, Rhode Island, is a 153-acre haven of history and natural beauty.
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About This Location

Beavertail State Park, nestled at the southern end of Conanicut Island in Jamestown, Rhode Island, is a sprawling 153-acre haven of historical significance and natural beauty. Its position on the island offers panoramic vistas of the Atlantic, making it a favorite for both residents and tourists.

One can’t mention Beavertail State Park without shining a spotlight on its most iconic feature: the Beavertail Lighthouse. Not only is this active lighthouse an attraction in itself, but its storied history also adds layers to its allure. It stands as Rhode Island’s inaugural lighthouse and ranks third in the line-up of lighthouses established in the United States. Though the original 1749 tower, directed by Peter Harrison of Newport, tragically burned down, it paved the way for successors that have since stood tall against the test of time. Today, the lighthouse, along with the assistant keeper’s house that dates back to 1898, serves as more than just a beacon for ships. The latter has been transformed into the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum, a trove of maritime history.

Diving deeper into history, the park’s grounds have witnessed pivotal moments. In the American Revolution’s throes, the Beaver Tail Fort was erected alongside the Conanicut Battery near Beaver Head. This strategic point was captured by the British during their occupation of Newport in 1776. The tables turned when the British made their exit in October 1779, post which the forts served the Americans and their French allies.

Fast forward to World War II, the same grounds were repurposed as Fort Burnside, fortifying the defenses of Narragansett Bay. Armed with gun batteries like the 6-inch Battery 213 and the 3-inch Battery Whiting, and complemented by an expansive Army-Navy Harbor Entrance Control Post, it stood sentinel during the war’s tumultuous years. However, the cessation of the war also marked the decommissioning of these military bastions.

Today, Beavertail State Park, established in 1980, invites visitors to a realm of diverse activities. Miles of hiking trails, many skirting the scenic coastline, beckon adventure seekers. Anglers can reel in a bounty with species like striped bass, flounder, and bluefish abundant in these waters – just remember to obtain a fishing license first. Open fields are set against the ocean’s backdrop, perfect for a leisurely picnic. For the more adventurous, the cove’s waters might tempt a swim, though caution is paramount given the tricky terrains.

Perhaps what’s most endearing about Beavertail State Park is its accessibility. Not only is it open all year round, but entrance is entirely free. With four expansive parking lots housing hundreds of spots, it’s evident that the park welcomes all with open arms, inviting them to partake in its rich tapestry of history, nature, and recreation.

Location

Address: Beavertail Road, Jamestown, Rhode Island
Place GPS Coordinates: 41.449639, -71.399333
Parking GPS Coordinates: 41.449639, -71.399333
Parking Notes: There are hundreds of free parking spots at Beavertail State Park across 4 separate lots.

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