visitor guidelines

from april 1 - august 15  only the 2-acre light station & ft. hamilton property (sw corner of the island) is publicly accessible due to nesting birds. but the good news is the best beaches (year round access) are found on either side of the lighthouse outside of the restricted area.

where can i walk on rose island this time of year?

map of rose island

between april 1 and august 15 every year
the wildlife area is "for the birds"

rose island's wildlife refuge beaches are protected, private property all year long. because this was a government site, rilf's deeded ownership extends to the extreme low water line. we are responsible for protecting the environment - particularly the nesting birds.

at rose island you will likely see great egrets, snowy egrets, little blue heron, black crowned night heron, glossy ibises and american oystercatchers, along with more common herring gulls, greater black-backed gulls, canada geese, and a variety of ducks. all of these migratory birds are protected by federal and international laws while they are nesting. (see pictures below)

we would have a big problem if intruders were to scare the parents off their nests because that would expose their eggs (or chicks) to the gulls and other more aggressive birds that would swoop down and gobble them up! yes, the food chain has to start somewhere, but we give rose island's nesting birds a break and do not allow any access to the wildlife area from april 1 to august 15. this includes the beaches where our oystercatchers nest.

the light station area is open to the public year round. you may walk on the lighthouse beaches and anywhere the grass is mowed left of the pink boundary line on the map above. (this includes the lighthouse and fort hamilton's barracks - in all about 2 acres). see picture

starting august 15 you may walk only where authorized on the beaches and trails around the perimeter of the island and the nw circular bastion. pay attention to the signs and the tides. no one is ever allowed into the interior of the island, which is full of holes, poison ivy, snakes and dilapidated buildings from world wars i and ii that are extremely dangerous, so please stick to the trail on the west side and the beaches, some of which are accessible only at low tide.

small boats may be beached only on the beaches near the lighthouse, not on any other beaches. the floating dock is reserved for starfish (the lighthouse tender) and quick drop offs (by the ferry and private boats). do not leave boats unattended at the float because the ferry won't be able to land. feel free to anchor out of the way.

baby egrets on rose island

thank you for your cooperation and help to preserve this wonderful island!

dave mccurdy,
executive director
rose island lighthouse foundation

fuzzy top great egret babies (above and right) can't fly yet, so their proud parents (below) fly to newport and jamestown to find food to bring back for them more baby egrets on rose island
great egret on rose island great egret in flight above rose island
baby glossy ibis on rose island baby glossy ibis (left) and black crowned night heron (below) wait for their parents to return with food.

mother nature has done a nice job of camouflaging the night heron. don't you agree?

below, three american oystercatchers forage among the mussels along rose island's shores (bob weaver photos)

baby night heron on rose island
oystercatchers on rose island


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protective gull on rose island
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