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Rhode Island’s Colt State Park Is a Must-See Jewel

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Friends together at sunset in Colt State Park

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Division of Parks manages over 8,200 acres in Rhode Island. Over nine million visitors head out to the 12 state parks each year.

National and international events like the Newport Jazz Festival, Newport Folk Festival, and Volvo Ocean Race run in the Rhode Island state parks. But the one that’s considered the “Gem” of the state park system is Colt State Park. Let’s learn more about this must-see jewel on the Atlantic coast!

About Colt State Park

From historic stone walls to beautiful shorelines to well-manicured shrubs and trees, Colt State Park has everything an outdoor enthusiast would want to enjoy the beauty of Rhode Island. The paved pathways are perfect for parents who wish to bring along a stroller, visitors needing ADA accessibility, and bikers who want to enjoy the panoramic view of Narragansett Bay.

Location

Just a few minutes from downtown Bristol, RI, Colt State Park lies along the shoreline of Narragansett Bay. While the city is an urban environment with Federal and Greek Revival architecture and mimics the typical Northeastern town layout with a grid pattern of streets, Colt State Park is wide open, a sprawling landscape devoid of buildings. It’s easily accessible from Highway 114, about a 30-minute drive from Providence.

Size

Visitors can access its 464 acres of lawns, stone walls, and shorelines year-round. You can reserve several picnic tables on site for group gatherings, including some sizeable areas with shelters and up to 15 tables.

All Rhode Island state parks have a “carry in-carry out” policy. Keep the 464 acres clean and beautiful for everyone to enjoy by picking up your trash when you leave.

Amenities

Colt State Park gives visitors access to a boat ramp, canoe/kayak launch, and a saltwater fishing pier for those who wish to participate in water recreational activities.

There are miles of paved bike paths and jogging trails for those wanting to stay on land. In the winter, guests can bring snowmobiles. There are also open fields for kite flying and outdoor games.

History

In the late 1880s, Samuel P. Colt made his fortune in banking and manufacturing in Bristol, RI. His private estate, the Colt Farm, was open to the public and was a picture of wealth.

From a pair of bronze bulls at the entrance to European and Greek sculptures that dotted the property. One visitor wrote, “If I were the biggest liar in the world, I could not exaggerate the magnitude and the wonders of Colt Farm.”

Even though Colt died in 1921, the property didn’t become a state park until 1965. The state bought the farm using Green Acres funds. Today couples can get married at the open-air Chapel by the Sea. Visitors enjoy 10 playing fields, six picnic groves, a public boat ramp, and four miles of walking, jogging, and bike trails.

Woman sailing along Colt State Beach coastline.

What Makes Colt State Park a Jewel?

Part of Colt State Park’s appeal is the history. Who wouldn’t want to visit the grounds where such an immaculate farm once operated? Another reason why visitors love Colt State Park is the many activities available. Biking, horseback riding, rollerblading, jogging, boating, picnicking, and paddling are all popular outdoor activities.

However, the real “jewel” of Colt State Park is the scenery. Situated along the shoreline, it’s simply stunning. Catch a sunset over the panoramic view of Narragansett Bay or walk among the well-manicured shrub and fruit trees. Be as active as you want, or relax and meditate while enjoying nature’s beauty.

Traveler’s Tip: Unsure what state to visit first? Find out Which State Has the Most Scenic Roads for your next road trip adventure.

Is There a Fee for Colt State Park? 

There is no fee to enter Colt State Park. However, Rhode Island charges a parking fee for beach parking. The cost for residents on the weekend is $7 per vehicle and $6 on a weekday. The price for non-residents on the weekend is $14 and $12 on a weekday. Season passes are also available for beach parking.

Road bridge over Narragansett Bay, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA

How Do I Book a Reservation at Colt State Park? 

If you’re interested in booking the chapel, it’s $50 for three hours or $100 for six hours. An open field rental is $20. If you’d like to rent a picnic table, it will cost $5, or you can rent an entire shelter for $75-$150, depending on the size. To make reservations, call the Colt State Park Office at 401-253-7482.

Where to Stay Near Colt State Park

These properties are less than 20 minutes from the park. Whether you’re looking for historic charm or want a campsite for your RV, these are three great options for places to stay around Bristol, RI.

William Grant’s Inn

Address: 154 High Street, Bristol, RI 02809

About: A beautiful Colonial Federal style home, William Grant’s Inn is a B&B that has five rooms guests can reserve. You can easily take a day trip to Newport, Boston, Providence, Cape Cod, the Nantucket Islands, Martha’s Vineyard, and Block Island. William Grant’s Inn is also conveniently located in downtown Bristol.

Amenities: Enjoy a gourmet breakfast before you head out to Colt State Park, only a five-minute drive along Highway 114. All of the rooms are fully furnished and have a private bathroom. Three of the five bedrooms have working gas fireplaces.

Mount Hope Farm

Address: 250 Metacom Avenue (Route 136), Bristol, RI 02809

About: The 127 acres of Mount Hope Farm “cultivate appreciation of our natural, historical and cultural character, and to make Mount Hope Farm accessible to all.” The Inn features charming stone walls and beautiful perennial gardens.

Twelve rooms are available for guests. Visitors can also rent the Governor Bradford House, the main historical home, the North Pasture house, and the South Pasture house.

Amenities: You’ll have everything you need in the fully furnished rooms at Mount Hope Farm. You’ll also have access to see the animals on the farm and stroll the beautiful gardens and fields on the property. 

Newport RV Park

Address: 181 Bradford Avenue, Portsmouth, RI 02871

About: Eight miles from historic Newport and four miles from Sandy Point Beach, Newport RV Park has shaded and level campsites for both RVs and tents.

The RV sites include both pull-thru and back-in sites. Guests also have direct access to the hiking trails and fishing ponds at Melville Park. The campground is 18 minutes south of Colt State Park, an easy drive down Highway 114.

Amenities: Newport RV Park has full hookups sites, free wifi and cable, a camp store, a dog park, a playground, volleyball and basketball courts, laundry facilities, and more.

Is Colt State Park Worth Visiting? 

If you want to visit one of the twelve Rhode Island state parks, start with Colt State Park in Bristol. The beauty here is unlike any other location in the state.

Sit on one of the benches and enjoy a sunset over Narragansett Bay. Pack a picnic and let the kids run around in the open fields. Bring your boat and head out for a day of fishing. Not only is Colt State Park beautiful, but it’s also full of recreational opportunities.

Have you ever visited one of Rhode Island’s state parks? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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