NIANTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — The Park Full sign sits on the ground near the entrance of Rocky Neck State Park and is expected to go up sometime this holiday weekend.
“Most likely on Fourth of Julys we usually close fairly early,” says park ranger Gary Jost.
The park closes early because the 2,000 parking spaces can fill up fast but that doesn’t stop many from taking the very long walk to the beach.
Nicholas Magrey of Sterling was helping carry a very large cooler when we asked him if he’d be willing to carry it the mile and a half to the beach if the parking lot was closed.
“If we have to we have to,” he says.
“I wouldn’t walk,” says Sarah McFarlane of Enfield. “I would turn around and go home.”
McFarlane’s son Dominic wouldn’t want to make the long walk either.
“Uhh no,” says Dominic Santiago who says it’s too far. “Yeah too far.”
So how do you avoid a long walk? In short – get to the Niantic beach early. The park opens at 8am. Some start lining up at four in the morning to get in.
“I would recommend jeez early as you can get here,” says Lou Pergiovanni of New London. “I know on Gold Star Bridge they’ll have the sign saying Rocky Neck is full. Usually by 9:30 ten o’clock saves a lot of people coming southbound.”
DEEP will also post parking lot status on its website and Rocky Neck’s twitter account to save people an unwanted walk.
“Try to get here as early as possible and remember that the outside streets are mostly no parking,” says Jost. “So if they’re parking outside the park they may get ticketed possibly.”
A risk and walk some are willing to take.
“It just took forever,” says Hunter Lewis of Killingly who had to walk one summer day.
Those who are camping at Rocky Neck can always drive over to the beach but if the lot is full they have to do a drop off and then park their car back at their site.
A lot of work to have a lot of fun but some say it’s worth it.
“At the end of the day the kid gets in the car, he’s pooped out,” explains Pergiovanni. “He’s sleeping and everybody… it’s just a wonderful experience.”
Another option along the shoreline is Hammonasset State Park in Madison.
That beach has three times as many parking spots as Rocky Neck so it doesn’t fill up as quickly and doesn’t close as often.