Special Use Policy and Permits

Find the perfect space for your next event in a Rhode Island state park, beach, or campground!

Baseball at the park

Special Event Policy & Process

We want you to have the best time possible at your triathlon, fishing tournament, wedding, family reunion, photography workshop, group fitness class, corporate function, or any other type of large gathering or commercial event. From open air pavilions and picnic shelters to wedding venues and historic facilities, we can help you find a location just right for your gathering.

Special Use Permits are required for these types of events and activities so that State Parks staff can best serve your needs while balancing the needs of other park visitors and the capacity of each park and facility.

  • Art displays or exhibits
  • Athletic events, competitions, races, or regattas
  • Clean ups (shoreline or other property type)
  • Company picnics for more than 50 people
  • Conferences or training events
  • Daycare or summer camp visits
  • Drone use (approval is restricted to commercial use - no private use permitted)
  • Exercises classes (commercial)
  • Festivals
  • Film, video, or photography shoots (small scale, large scale, non-commercial and student-based)
  • Fireworks displays
  • Fundraising events (Walkathons, races, small festivals, family fun days, etc.)
  • Equestrian competitions, shows or gatherings
  • Motorcycle charity runs or stopovers
  • Outreach or education displays or tents
  • Press conferences
  • Private parties for more than 50 people (not contained to a specific site rental such as a pavilion or field)
  • Radio station broadcasts
  • Religious ceremonies
  • School field days, picnics, or field trips
  • Scientific research or surveys
  • Volunteer maintenance projects (scouts, schools, groups, or organizations)


If you already have a specific location in mind, please contact the Regional Office for that area to confirm if a permit is required, if the date you are requesting is available, and if the event or activity is allowed.

If you are not sure what location would be appropriate for your event or activity or would like general information, please contact us at dem.riparks@dem.ri.gov or 401-667-6200.

Please note: approval of your event is at the discretion of park management. Please contact the State Park you are interested in for more information before submitting a Special Use Permit request.


Submitting A Request

Before submitting your permit application, it is important to read the information provided below. Once you have determined a location and confirmed with the Regional Manager that the date is available and the use is appropriate, Download this Instruction Form and then click here to apply.

Please keep in mind:

  • Plan ahead! Special Use Permit applications need to be submitted at least 30 DAYS IN ADVANCE OF THE EVENT.
  • Submission of an application does not guarantee that your event will be permitted.
  • Large scale events will require applications to be received no less than 90 days prior to the event with some events requiring up to 1-year advanced notification. These large events may require a License Agreement approved by the State Properties Committee. Activities requiring a License Agreement at a RI State Park property meet on or more of the following criteria:
    • Commercial Use: If a person, group, or organization is making or attempting to make a profit or offers for sale any service or product or charges a fee on DEM property
    • Alcohol: Any event or activity that proposes the consumption, possession, distribution, selling or drinking of alcoholic beverages. Please note, there are only select locations that allow alcohol.
    • High Risk: Events such as fireworks/pyrotechnics; concerts/festivals with staging, special equipment, or carnival rides; large scale races, regattas, or competitions; any use that requires construction of structures and/or equipment to move or install any feature.
    • High Impact: The event or activity that exceeds normal use of the facility and/or interrupts the normal public use of the park due to scope or size of the event; large number of attendees; large-scale promotion (media and social); events of regional, national, or global scale.

Contact RI State Parks at dem.riparks@dem.ri.gov or 401-667-6200 if you have questions regarding large scale events.

Estimated total attendance (participants, staff, volunteers & spectators) will determine your event impact cost for use of the property. 

This cost is in addition to any site, field, or shelter renters you may require. 

See Site, Field,+ and Shelter Rentals for more information.

Event Size Total Event Impact Cost Recovery
101-200 $200
201-400 $350
401-600 $500
601-800 $700
801-1,000 $850
1,001-1,500 $1,200
1,501-2,000 $1,800
2,001-3,000 $2,400
3,001-4,000 $3,400
4,001-5,000 $4,400
5,001-10,000 $5,400
  • School Group Exemption School groups will not be assessed staffing costs for picnics, field trips, or field days. This exception does not apply to multi-school athletic events.
  • Maximum Attendance Events on State Property will be capped at 10,000 attendance per day.
  • Direct Park Staffing In addition to the Event Impact Cost, Direct Park Staffing costs may be assessed when park staff must be fully dedicated to managing or overseeing an event.
  • Pass Thru Events will be reduced by 1/3 by participant level or a minimum of $100, over 100 people (example: race where course uses part of a park)
  • Partial Use Events will be reduced by½ by participant level or a minimum of $100, over 100 people (example: events that utilize a property for parking only, where the event takes place off-site, and no services or amenities are required.)
  • Small Business Use a $25 event impact fee for small business use, for 25 people or fewer (per use or per event date) where no money is exchanged on state property (example: small fitness/yoga classes).
Event Size Cost Per Day for Multi-Day Events
3,001-5,000 $500 per additional day
5,001-7,500 $1,000 per additional day
7,501-10,000 $2,000 per additional day
  • This does not include set-up/break-down dates. Event days only.
  • The minimum partial use fee of $100 will be charged per day for set-up & break-down.


Depending on the size and/or category of the event, you may be assessed cost for Law Enforcement or Emergency Medical Services (EMS/Fire) Details.


Most Special Event Permits require a certificate of general liability insurance. The amount of insurance required is based on the type of activity you are planning to host. After we have reviewed your application, we will provide details on the level of insurance required, and instructions on where to email the certificate. We must receive your certificate of insurance two weeks prior to your event, or permits can be denied.

Once your application is received, a 2-part approval process will take place where the event or special use activity will be assessed for cost, public safety, insurance, and any other event/activity specific conditions. Once this first review takes place, the permit will receive Conditional Approval. This allows the permit applicant to move forward with planning and preparing for the event/special use activity. The permit will receive Final Approval when insurance is received, and all other conditions have been met. An event can only take place when a Final Approval is received, and a permit is issued.

The following businesses have been approved to provide services for permitted private events within State Park locations. These lists are provided for information only, and inclusion does not constitute endorsement by DEM and Rhode Island State Parks. Anyone interested in becoming an approved vendor, click here for Small Business Permits.

Please confirm with Park Staff that your site rental or location within the park allows for food trucks.

Food Trucks interested in serving private events within Rhode Island State Parks must first obtain an Annual Food Truck Permit

This list is subject to change.

Park patrons who wish to have a custom picnic set-up, must select a picnic business from our list of Approved Picnic Business Vendors, or ask their desired business to register to become an approved vendor. Event organizers must first contact the Park Manager at the RI State Park they are hoping to host their event.  Approval of events are at the discretion of Park Management. 

This list is subject to change.

Recreation equipment and services provided by Recreation Companies, are only permitted in the RI State Parks below.   

  • Colt State Park, Bristol (Approved Bounce House sites)
  • Fort Adams State Park, Newport
  • Goddard Memorial State Park, Warwick
  • Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln 

Recreation Companies providing services such as, but not limited to, bounce houses and obstacle courses who are interested in serving private events within Rhode Island State Parks, must first obtain an Annual Recreation Company Permit. Pony rides, petting zoos, or animal exhibitions are not permitted at Rhode Island State Parks unless associated with a special event permitted by DEM.

A Professional Photography Permit is required by photographers who are charging for their services, which constitutes “doing business” in state parks.  Any photo shoot that has more than 15 people, uses props, or in any way interferes with normal park activities will require a Special Use Permit in addition to a Professional Photography Permit. Learn more

If you’re not a professional photographer and you’re not charging for your services, you do not need a Professional Photography Permit for groups of 15 or less, as long as you remain in general use areas and do not infringe on the ability of other patrons to enjoy the park and recreate in general use areas.  If you want to take photos at a reservable site, you need to rent and pay for the site from the park office in advance, regardless of whether you are a professional or hobbyist.

Photographers hired for events that require a Special Use Permit from RI State Parks (e.g., wedding, fundraiser), are not required to obtain their own permit, as long as the event organizer indicates that there will be a photographer on site, and they take full responsibility for the activity, on their Special Use Permit application.

Examples Of Previous Events

Let's Go Fishing Event - Lincoln Woods State Park
Outdoor education display
Outdoor Education Display - Fort Adams State Park
Sailboat Regatta
Sailboat Regatta - Goddard Memorial State Park