A deep and rich history includes being the first state to declare independence from Great Britain, and adventurous tales of pirates make Rhode Island an adventure to behold. It was a deciding factor when establishing our route for our experiences across the United States to find the best places to metal detect.
During my adventures with the family, traveling through Rhode Island, I found seven state parks, beaches, and recreation areas that I enjoyed the most. These parks all require permission to treasure hunt with a metal detector, but they are all well worth the approval effort (we’ll talk more about laws and approval here as well).
Let’s take a journey together through these seven state parks, beaches, and recreation areas. I’ll share some of my experiences and the activities and amenities each has to offer. That way, you’ll be able to get a good idea of what to expect and can plan that adventure of your own.
1. Lincoln Woods State Park – Freshwater and Good Times
Lincoln Woods State Park is a fantastic park that isn’t far from Providence. The freshwater beach is lovely (to hunt), and there are plenty of other things to do at the park, which I’ll get to in a moment.
The park was first officially started in 1909, but the land in the area dates back to Abraham Lincoln. Not betraying the rich historical trend that suits most of Rhode Island, the Lincoln Woods SP holds the promise of lost treasures, like any in place in Rhode Island.
Some of the great things you can do at this park are:
- Horseback riding
Here’s how to find the Lincoln Woods State Park – https://goo.gl/maps/K1MEu7s8Rx7obxDPA
2. Goddard Memorial State Park – Beach and Golf in One Park!
East Greenwich, Rhode Island, presents an opportunity to visit Goddard Memorial State Park. While the park has a lovely beach where you can request metal detect permission, the park also offers a 9-hole golf course. It’s handy if you like golf and not swimming while the beach is busy and you’re waiting to hunt. Why not just play a round of golf?
Here are some of the park’s highlights:
- 9-hole golf course
- Swimming beach
- Horseback riding
- 11 game fields
- 355 picnic tables
You can find Goddard Memorial State Park here – https://goo.gl/maps/inKET7FjnS53Jq6n8
3. Scarborough State Beaches – North and South Beaches to Explore
In Narragansett, Rhode Island, resides two beaches, the North Scarborough State Beach and the South Scarborough State Beach. These two beaches are run by the Parks & Rec division of the Rhode Island State Government, just like the State Parks. Therefore, they fall under the same rules for obtaining a permit. Just contact the regional manager to get your permit. Remember, as long as you aren’t digging up anything over 100 years old, it should be fair game on a beach. However, don’t forget to get that permit.
The sandy beaches of Scarborough have lifeguards working from 9 am to 6 pm. If it’s a hot day and the beach is busy, you can expect permission denied. However, on cooler or rainy days, there shouldn’t be much resistance to getting a permit.
Here are a few of the beach’s amenities and activities:
- Observation tower
You can find the Scarborough State Beaches here – https://goo.gl/maps/R3d6xqwTuSPcjvEV6
4. East Matunuck State Beach – Post Hurricane Beach Hunting
The East Matunuck State Beach was once privately owned lands that, over the 1950s, were ravaged by hurricanes that sometimes swept entire structures out to sea. Over the years, the state acquired the land and built a modern beach facility.
Here are some of the beach features:
- Lifeguards on duty 9 am-6 pm
- No pets allowed
You can find East Matunuck State Beach here – https://goo.gl/maps/Cc6mVN8qkvMmEYmU7
5. Burlingame State Park – Beach and Camping
Burlingame State Park is located just west of Charleston, RI. The park is pretty big with lots of hiking, camping, and a swimming beach on the freshwater Watchaug Pond.
The park also boasts a DEM boat launch, so if you want to bring out your watercraft, you are welcome to do so. Fees may apply.
The beach has lifeguards working 9 am-6 pm, seasonally. There is also fishing permitted in the park if one has the proper fishing license, of course.
Metal Detecting Tip: Sometimes, I’m over-excited when I’m out in the field about what I might find. It leads me to want to rush ahead naturally. But this has been the cause of missing treasures on more than one occasion.
To prevent this, practice taking your time. Keep your excitement at bay, and you’ll have a better chance of finding something that may have otherwise slipped through your rushed pace. For more great tips on detecting and more, read this article: https://metaldetectingtips.com/metal-detecting-tips/
6. Pulaski State Park – 13-acres of Recreational Fun
Pulaski State Park is small, but it packs a big wallop of fun. Between the incredible trout fishing and the swimming at the beach at Peck Pond, Pulaski offers something everyone can enjoy.
While at Pulaski, you can enter the adjacent George Washington Management area for over 10 miles of trails to enjoy.
7. Misquamicut State Beach – New Facilities and New Adventures
One of the state’s most popular beach destinations, Misquamicut is known to fill to capacity on hot summer days. The destination offers over half a mile of sandy beach frontage; the area is often mixed with locals and those from abroad who want to enjoy and take advantage of the beach on a hot day.
The state beach was only formally opened in 1959. It means that being such a new facility, it’s unlikely you’ll run into any issues with potentially finding relics over a century old. After all, the beach is not a historic site.
Metal Detecting Laws For Rhode Island
Rhode Island is a state with a rich history. State officials guard that history, and likely for a good reason. It causes an issue for metal detectorists. Concerning State Parks and other DEM-run properties within the state, such as beaches, the law is ambiguous and entirely transparent. Here is the low-down:
- You must get a permit to hunt in state parks.
- The area and possibly time of day will likely be limited, at the manager’s sole discretion, providing authority to process the permit.
- Permits are stated to be provided by the Department of Environmental Management and approved by the Director.
- State DEM management breaks the state down into regions. The regional managers approve permits, not the Director, according to a forum where a person stated their sibling works for DEM, and that is how they operate.
- Most parks have regulations at the park entrance stating whether they allow detecting or not.
The state park regulations are worded as:
“A. No one shall excavate, disturb, or conduct field investigations on any site or underwater historic property, nor shall anyone disturb or remove any specimens from any property under the care, control, or custody of the RIDEM without first obtaining the written approval of the Director and a permit from the State Historic Preservation Commission.
B. All archaeological sites, underwater historic property, and archaeological specimens, as defined in the Antiquities Act of Rhode Island, R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 42-45.1, are the property of the State of Rhode Island.
C. Metal detectors and other location devices are restricted to designated areas during specified time periods.”
Quick Law Recap:
- National Forests: Permit required from US Forest Service.
- BLM Lands: Permit required for relics. The Bureau of Land Management is a great resource for metal detectors. Read more about the policies HERE
- Rhode Island State Parks: Permit required. Designated areas and times may apply. Read more at the Rhode Island State Parks website – HERE
- Rhode Island DEM Lands (campgrounds, beaches): Permit required. Designated areas and times may apply.
Private Property: Land owner’s permission required.
Metal Detecting Clubs in Rhode Island
- Rhode Island Relics – Pawtucket, RI – This ‘club’ is essentially a metal detecting store that organizes some events. Their website is more focused on selling products than showing club information, but there are mentions that they meet regularly, so it might be worth investigating if you’re looking for a club in Rhode Island (there seems to be a lack of clubs). – https://www.rhodeislandrelics.com
Metal Detecting Tip: Be respectful and always follow the law. You may think you can get away with sneaking on a property to do some detecting, but without proper permission, it could have dire consequences. You could get a trespassing fine or worse, depending on what state you’re in at the time.
To maintain the good name of metal detectorists everywhere, mind your manners and keep out of trouble. For more great tips, take a look at this article: https://metaldetectingtips.com/metal-detecting-tips/
Metal Detecting Treasures Found in Rhode Island
Everyone likes a good mystery. Add some treasure, pirates, and a good old-fashioned chase and allude authorities, and you’ve got the makings of a great adventure tale. Rhode Island is not without its own stories.
Back in 1695, there was a fierce pirate named Capt. Henry Every. He allegedly attacked and plundered a ship carrying Muslim pilgrims home to India. The pirate eluded capture by posing as a slave trader and then disappeared.
Enter Jim Bailey, a metal detectorist who found an Arabian coin dating back to the 17th-century. The coin may hold a clue to how this notorious pirate escaped. Mr. Bailey also found the coin in Rhode Island.
The crimes of Every were so great that the incident was one of the first worldwide manhunts in history.
Metal Detecting Resources in Rhode Island
- MDHTALK forum has a great quick reference resource for information about rules for metal detecting in Rhode Island. Check out the reference list here. – http://www.mdhtalk.org/cf/city-regulation.cfm?st=RI
- Rhode Island DEM Park and Management Rules and Regulations (Look in Section 4 under Archaeology for the laws that mention metal detecting). – http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/pdf/ma0610.pdf
Metal Detector Stores In Rhode Island for Expert Advice
- AJP Metal Detectors – Tiverton, RI – https://ajpmetaldetectors.com/
- Rhode Island Relics – Pawtucket, RI – https://www.rhodeislandrelics.com/
The East Coast Has Some Amazing Places to Metal Detect
- Vermont isn’t just about Maple Syrup, it’s an inviting place to metal detect. Find where to go in this article 15 Best Places to Metal Detect in Vermont
- Maine, heck I think the whole state is a shoreline! I’ve got an article with a “where to” list: Where to Metal Detect in Maine (Laws and Maps)
- Delaware for treasure hunting. With lots of State Parks open to Metal Detecting Delaware is a great destination. Read where to go in this article: 15 Places to Metal Detect in Delaware
David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.