Rhode Island is by far the smallest of the 50 states. You would expect it to be the state with the least number of counties, but you would be wrong. Rhode Island has 5 of them, but Delaware has only 3. You would also expect Rhode Island to have the least number of National Park facilities. Again you would be wrong. That state is North Dakota with only 3 National Park service sites. There are 45 National Historic Landmarks in Rhode Island, but there are no National Parks in this state. In fact, to see a National Park Rhode Islanders have to go north to Maine.
Rhode island had a rather controversial beginning. It was founded by Roger Williams, a Puritan leader who was forced to leave Massachusetts to create a refuge for the free practice of religion. He established a colony called Rhode Island where religious freedom was the norm. Williams founded and named the city of Providence in 1636 when he created a completely free colony south of Massachusetts. He named his settlement Providence to thank God for his protection.
One of the 45 National Historical Sites in Rhode Island today is the United State’s 1st enclosed shopping mall. It was called Arcade. Among the other national historic places here are almost 25 houses including the Vanderbilt Mansion in Newport, 4 historic districts, some churches, 2 carousels, one casino, and a single lighthouse.
There may be 45, but NPS.gov lists only 5 truly significant sites–the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, the John H. Chafee National Heritage Corridor, the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, which is a National Historical Trail, the Touro Synagogue in Newport, the oldest in North America and still active are 4 of them. The 5th is perhaps the most important of them all, the Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence. It has a visitor center, a walking path for a self-guided tour, and programs for visitors. Four of the 45 NP sites in Rhode Island are part of the Blackstone River National Historical Park. The famous Appalachian Trail avoids Rhode Island in favor of western Massachusetts. Rhode Island is the only New England state that The Trail bypasses.
None of the above state landmarks include a National Park. The 10 least attention-getting National Parks include two of my favorites, Congaree in South Carolina and North Cascades, a less visited facility due to its northern location in my own state of Washington and the rare National Park with 2 parts like Arizona’s Saguaro. Both Congaree and North Cascades, seen just above, deserve more visitors.