Top 10 Tips for Visiting Blackstone River Valley NHP

Park Ranger talking with visitor around table with information
Park Ranger greeting visitor


A little advance trip planning can ensure that your only surprises are happy ones. Check out our top 10 insider tips to #PlanLikeAParkRanger.

Yellow mill building
Old Slater Mill

1. Know where to go

You’ll want to start your visit at Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI. This site is home to three historic buildings, an historic dam, and a city park. Join a Park Ranger for a guided tour of the mill, get your park passport stamped in the visitor station in Old Slater Mill, or walk the grounds and learn more about the fascinating industrial history of the Blackstone River Valley.

There are five other park sites spread across the Blackstone Valley. The Blackstone River State Park in Lincoln, Rhode Island is a great place to get out of the car and enjoy the beauty of the Blackstone River Valley. Walk along the historic Blackstone Canal Towpath, ride a bike down the Blackstone River Bikeway, or visit the Captain Wilbur Kelly House Transportation Museum. Walk across the river to visit the mill village of Ashton. Park passport stamps are available in Kelly House Transportation Museum.

There is lots to see in the other three mill villages: Hopedale, Whitinsville, and Slatersville. There are no park facilities in these communities at this time, but you can take a self-guided tour at your leisure.

2. Download the NPS App

Easily downloadable from the Apple or Google store, the NPS App is a fantastic resource for exploring your parks. Once on the App, search for Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. From there you can enjoy our self-guided audio tours, peruse our calendar of events, learn more about what things to see and do, or even create your own postcard of the park.

3. Pack your patience

Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park is one of the newer units of the National Park Service. Although there is a lot of things to see and do already, we are constantly changing our offerings as we build our staff, acquire new sites, and create new exhibits. During this time of transition, not everything you would like to see may be open yet or may be closed for a time. It is always worth checking with a Park Ranger before visiting a site to find out the latest conditions and hours of operation.

4. Get your Passport stamped

Hey, we completely understand the allure of the Passport stamp. Visit Old Slater Mill to get your first stamp and pick up a special Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park booklet. Then you can collect 5 more stamps at the other park locations. Learn more about what stamps are available and where.

5. Become a Junior Ranger

For the younger members of your traveling party (or those young at heart), visit Old Slater Mill and ask the Park Ranger or Volunteer about our Junior Ranger program. Complete activities to earn your badge and be sworn in as a Junior Ranger.

6. Be in the Know

Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park hosts several special events throughout the course of the year, which include winter lecture series, outdoor movie nights, Ranger Walkabouts, and the First Strike Festival. Check on the Park’s Calendar and social media pages (Facebook, Instagram (@BlackstoneNPS), Twitter, and YouTube) for the latest news on events and offerings.

Children visiting Slater Mill on a field trip
Children visiting the Wilkinson Mill on a field trip


7. Walk the Valley with a Ranger

During the summer months, you can join a Park Ranger on Thursday evenings at 6:30 PM and learn more about the history, culture, and nature in the Valley during leisurely walks. The Ranger Walkabouts are offered in June, July, and August at various locations between Worcester, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island.

8. Ruffing it?

Bringing your four-legged friend to the park? Dogs are welcome on the grounds of Slater Mill and at the Blackstone River State Park from dawn to dusk. Your pet can also become a B.A.R.K. ranger and earn a badge. Check with a Park Ranger to learn more about the program. Only service animals are allowed inside Park buildings.

9. Ride Your Bike or Take a Paddle

There are numerous spots to recreate in the Valley. See historic sites, the canal towpath, and beautiful views of the river at a leisurely pace by pedaling along the Blackstone River Bikeway.

If paddling is your thing, check out this list of places to take your canoe, kayak, or paddleboard out.

10. Take only pictures, leave only footprints

We need everyone’s help to protect the historic and natural resources of the Blackstone River Valley. When visiting the park, please refrain from touching the historic structures and artifacts on the site. Don’t interact with the wildlife and clean up after yourself. We protect some amazing resources, so it's our job to leave no trace.

Pro Tip: If you got the perfect shot, we want to see it! Be sure to tag us on social media when you post those breathtaking photos: @BlackstoneNPS or #BlackstoneNPS.

Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park

Last updated: January 6, 2024