Rhode Island is a state located in the Eastern US, consisting of five islands and five counties, and has the smallest land area of any State in the US, at 1,214 square miles (1954 km).
To illustrate its small size, you could fit Rhode Island over 220 times inside the state of Texas!
If you’re planning to drive across the state for the pleasure of a scenic drive along the coast or to reach an exterior location, then there’s some vital information to know, such as how long this will take and what to expect along the way.
To drive across Rhode Island from North to South takes roughly 1 hour, and from East to West takes 50 minutes.
However, driving times can vary depending on what sections of the State you’re crossing and what time of day you’re driving, ranging anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.
Travel distance across the Rhode Island
Rhode Island is made up of two main segments, which are coastal, and inland areas.
To the North and East, the state borders Massachusetts, and the West borders Connecticut.
To the South, you’ll find the waters of the Block Island Sound (the Atlantic Ocean).
To travel from North to South through the state covers a distance of 48 miles, and from East to West, it’s 37 miles.
However, due to winding roads, it’s not possible to travel in a perfectly straight line, thus increasing travel distance, and routes are mostly smaller roads with restricted speeds, which will slow things down a bit.
If we consider driving from end to end between borders, from the North point bordering Millville, MA, to the South bordering the Block Island Sound, this has a distance of 57.9 miles and a driving time of 1 hour.
From East to West, traveling from the East point bordering Westport, MA, to the West point bordering Connecticut has a distance of 53.6 miles and a driving time of 54 minutes.
Driving from East to West is slowed down due to there being a network of bridges connecting to the Narragansett Bay Estuary area, and you’ll also have to navigate around certain sections surrounded by the ocean.
All in all, from border to border, it will take roughly 1 hour to cross North to South and slightly less time from East to West.
Driving between destinations within the state
Let’s run through some point-to-point drives between locations at opposite ends of the State.
This is calculated at non-peak times, avoiding morning and evening rush hour traffic, so driving in peak hours might encounter more traffic that will alter travel time.
North to South
To travel from North to South, starting at the Southern point of South Kingstown to the Northern point of Woonsocket via the I-295 N, it is a distance of 46.7 miles and a travel time of 52 minutes.
East to West
To travel across the state between smaller sections, such as the Eastern point of East Providence, to the Western point of West Foster via the RI-101 W, it is a distance of 23 miles and a driving time of 29 minutes.
As an example of having to navigate across bridge networks to the Narragansett Bay Estuary, driving from the Eastern point of Tiverton School District to the Western point of the Nicholas Farm Management Area via the I-195 W and I-95 S, there is a distance of 53.9 miles and a driving time of 1 hour 2 minutes.
Northwest to Southeast
To drive diagonally from the Northwest point of Burrillville to the Southeast point of Little Compton via the I-195 W, it is a distance of 57.6 miles and a travel time of 1 hour 9 minutes.
Northeast to Southwest
To cross diagonally between the Northeast point of Cumberland to the Southwest point of Westerly via the I-95 N and I-295 N, there is a distance of 57.1 miles, and it takes 56 minutes to complete.
The longest possible drive across the State
One of the longest possible drives available across the State is between the Northwest point of Buck Hill Road, which runs through the Western border, to the Little Compton School District deep in the Southeast, with a distance of 64.1 miles and a driving time of 1 hour 35 minutes.
Factors that can influence driving time
Rhode Island is heavily industrialized in comparison to its size. You’ll find 90+ cities with a population under 1,000, and in certain urban environments, traffic can cause slowdowns.
This is especially true for its Capital City of Providence, where residential areas are prone to holdups during peak hours.
You might also be slowed down as a result of roadwork. If you do encounter such instances, this will add another 10-20 minutes to your journey time.
Some busier roads are also prone to extra traffic, such as the 45-mile I-95, as it is the leading North to South Interstate Highway and is heavily used, passing through busy sections of the State.
Things to note
Let’s run through some important information you’ll need to be aware of when driving across Rhode Island.
- Beware of speed traps when driving through the State.
- Weather conditions can be unpredictable, and if driving in the Winter, roads can become icy, so before your drive, it’s good practice to check for any closed roads and detours that might have been issued.
- Speed limits are as follows: School areas 20 mph, city boundaries 25 mph, general roads 45-50 mph, expressways and divided highways 50 mph, and interstates 65 mph.
- You’ll find plenty of metered parking spots and parking centers in major cities and towns.
Driving across Rhode Island will generally take you between 30 minutes to a little over an hour, depending on your starting and ending locations.
Other factors that can influence your drive time include the time of day you’re driving and weather conditions.
If you’re planning on stopping at points along the way, such as the popular capital city of Providence, you can comfortably spend a few hours, see what’s on offer, and still complete the journey within 3-4 hours.
In most instances, you won’t require an overnight stay.