Rhode Island is nicknamed the “Ocean State”, a reference to its 640-kilometre coastline. It therefore seemed appropriate to me that we take advantage of our road trip through Rhode Island to enjoy its coastal landscapes, so after our stay at Burlingame State Park, we headed to another state park: Beavertail State Park.
Beavertail State Park is located in Jamestown, on the southern tip of Conanicut Island, at the entrance of Narragansett Bay. This 153-acre park has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful in Rhode Island, and offering some of the most impressive views of the entire New England coast.
And upon arriving, when we set out to follow the trail along the rocky shoreline, we understood why this park is so popular!
Beavertail State Park was established in 1980 and is said to have gotten its name because the tip of the island is shaped like a beaver’s tail when seen from the air. So no, you won’t find any beavers in this state park, but the rocky shoreline and saltwater ponds make it a great place for birdwatching. We also saw a deer there when we arrived!
Beavertail State Park is also historically significant, as it is the site of the third fort built in the United States. The Beavertail Lighthouse, built in 1794, was also Rhode Island’s very first lighthouse. Although the wooden structure was burned by the British 4 years after its construction, the lighthouse which was built afterwards remained in place until it was replaced in 1856, by the current granite fort.
The lighthouse played an important role in the development of nearby Newport as an important port city before the Revolution. Its history is showcased in a small museum found near the lighthouse (it is also apparently sometimes possible to climb into the lighthouse, but it was not open when we were there).
The strategic position of Beavertail State Park was also used during World War II. Fort Burnside, which was built there, monitored all comings and goings on Narragansett Bay and was equipped with the latest radar technology. During the war, two anti-submarine nets were also spanned across the bay.
But beyond its interesting history, the ocean views are beautiful! The park has short trails following the rocky shoreline (some of which are marked) and passing through the wooded areas of the park. The trails are not very long, but it was just enough to allow us to walk around the park, and enjoy the beautiful landscape and the salty air.
Finally, Beavertail State Park was a perfect reminder of why Rhode Island deserves its nickname of Ocean State!