Park Life Blog

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St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis--An Exciting Week at Shelby Farms Park!


This is a very exciting week at Shelby Farms Park!  We are proud to be the site for the St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis and can’t wait to host more than 2,400 elite athletes and more than 5,000 spectators on Saturday, October 2 for this special event.  These triathletes will be swimming, biking and running in and around the Park.  

The Park is open on Saturday, but please note that the entire Park will be impacted by this event and your time at the Park will not be what you regularly experience. Be prepared for additional traffic, delays and road closures in and around the Park. On Saturday, all traffic must enter off of Mullins Station. CLICK HERE for the traffic impact guide and CLICK HERE for course maps.

Remember to pack your patience and to be careful and courteous as you maneuver through traffic and parking areas! Spectators are welcome to visit the IRONMAN Expo and cheer on the athletes. CLICK HERE for the week’s full event schedule.  

St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis Highlights:
Monday through Wednesday, Sept. 27-29
Equipment, trucks, trailers load in and set up.

Thursday, Sept. 30
Athlete check-in.
IRONMAN Expo opens.
Great View Drive N. closes at the three-way at Pine Lake Drive.

Friday, Oct. 1
Practice swim for registered athletes. IRONMAN Expo and IRONKIDS race opens.

Saturday, Oct. 2
Event race day! 

Sunday, Oct 3
Event breakdown and move out.

Looking to volunteer for this event? Click here!

at 29 September 2021

Celebrating Five 901-derful Years


It's hard to believe we're already celebrating the 5-year anniversary of Heart of the Park opening to the public! We caught up with Shelby Farms Park Conservancy's CEO, Jen Andrews, in a Q+A below, to find out how the project has shaped Shelby Farms Park's future and what her favorite observations are of the space over the last five years. But first, here's a quick history of Heart of the Park and how it came to be:

A Brief History of Heart of the Park 

At 9:01am on 9.01.2016*, Shelby Farms Park Conservancy opened its biggest improvement project to date⏤Heart of the Park. This project focused on the transformation Shelby Farms Park's largest lake and surrounding landscape, and it served as the keystone for the first phase of the Park's Master Plan. When you visit the Park today, Heart of the Park is a community hub⏤a place to get moving or relax, soak up an unrivaled sunset, grab a bite to eat, rent a boat or bike, splash around at the Water Play Sprayground, or shop in the Lake's Edge Gift Shop to support daily Park operations. At the request of the community in the planning process with world-renowned landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations, Heart of the Park was designed to give the community a special space to gather and connect, while allowing the rest of the Park a little wilder with more opportunities to explore. 

*For non-Memphians, 901 is our city's area code, and we couldn't think of a better date and time to celebrate the community that helped make Heart of the Park's transformation possible!


While this renovation was a massive undertaking, the project was completed on time and on budget⏤a $52 million budget to be exact⏤and with tremendous public support and minimal disruption to daily park access. In just 24 months, Hyde Lake (formerly Patriot Lake) grew from about 50 acres to roughly 80 acres and the entire watershed was reshaped, creating a healthier, more ecologically sound body of water. In tandem, the First Horizon Foundation Visitor Center and FedEx Event Center we constructed along the lake's edge, creating designated spaces for gathering like the AutoZone Front Porch.

Fun fact:
The first beam in the First Horizon Visitor Center went up at the same time the first tree was being planted in Heart of the Park!


Q+A with Jen Andrews • Shelby farms Park Conservancy CEO

Why was the completion of Heart of the Park significant for Shelby Farms Park/Shelby Farms Park Conservancy? And for Memphis?
Opening the Heart of the Park amenities to the public represented the culmination of more than a decade of dreaming, planning, pushing, pulling, designing, fundraising and building. Dozens of teammates, community leaders, board members, volunteers, donors, elected officials, friends and supporters gave untold hours to make this dream a reality. It was a huge, heavy community lift, and Memphis should be proud of the gift it has given itself in Shelby Farms Park. 

We set out to create a world class public park for our community, and we did it! We wanted this project (along with the Greenline and Woodland Discovery Playground) to set a new benchmark for what’s possible in our city and to inspire us all to expect more from our public realm. 


Any special memory from opening day (9.01.16) that you’d like to share?
What a day. Some of us had been working out of our new visitor center offices for a few months prior to the area being open to the public. It was magical just to see visitors sitting in the Adirondack chairs under the big fans on the front porch, taking in the gorgeous lake view. We all went out to talk with visitors and ask them what they thought. People were astonished and delighted. It was so much fun! For years, we’d been promising something truly special, and getting to see people finally enjoy it was pure joy. 

At the ribbon cutting ceremony (appropriately held at 9:01am on 9/01), I remember looking at my teammates in the crowd and feeling tremendous pride and gratitude. The strength of Shelby Farms Park Conservancy has always been in the people who gather to support it. This park is a magnet for talent, passion and people who love a challenge! 

Heart of the Park Ribbon Cutting - 9.01.16
Heart of the Park Ribbon Cutting September 1, 2016


What has surprised you most in the last 5 years?
We knew the new park would be popular, but it would have been hard to guess just how many people it would draw. We are regularly astounded and totally delighted by the crowds. 

This is a very thoughtfully engineered and designed site that we spent many years working on, workshopping and revising. Fortunately, it functions more or less as we had hoped. It is a very complex site, with hundreds of acres of turf, thousands of trees, wetlands, hundred of irrigation heads, wildlife, meadows, a sprayground, boat launches and beaches, more than 2 miles of lakeshore, more than 5 miles of trails and paths, site furniture, lighting, a stage, a great lawn, an event center, two restaurants, a visitor center, staff offices, a gift shop, a geothermal HVAC system, a boathouse and more. Operational expertise has to range from mechanical systems management, to IT, to drainage, to habitat management, to janitorial, and on and on. 

Heart of the Park Construction: Baptist Memorial Health Care Promenade, Water Play Sprayground, Geothermal System under Hyde Lake


Do you have a favorite spot or activity in Heart of the Park?
This is an impossible question! It’s so hard to pick a favorite. 

James Corner Field Operations' beautiful landscape design work yielded a remarkably varied experience for visitors. The north side of the lake feels like a vibrant urban park hub. As I’m typing this, I’m watching a family kick around a soccer ball on the Visitor Center lawn. Yesterday, there was a fashion shoot on the front porch!  But as you walk the Promenade, your views and perspectives shift with each turn and cove. Sometimes the view feels expansive and vast, and other times you’re sharing an intimate cove with the blue heron standing on the lake shore. Then you emerge into pastoral meadows and hilly terrain. As you approach the Forest Walk, the landscape begins to feel softer, wilder and quieter. As you enter the young cyprus forest, the Promenade is suspended over a wetland with cattails and tall grasses on either side. In a few hundred feet, you’re treated to the big water view from the farthest eastern corner of the lake stretching all the way to the west. 

But I think everyone here knows that my real favorite is getting to enjoy all the dogs that visit Heart of the Park. Other than the truly amazing people I work with, seeing and petting all of your dogs is my #1 job perk. Shoutout to Peabody, Mac, Murphy, J.J., Hugo, Glen, Gumbo the Hedgehog and all the regulars. 


Your office overlooks a large portion of Heart of the Park. Describe a typical day through your window. 
First - I am so spoiled. This view is unbelievable and inspiring. 

There is no such thing as a typical day at Shelby Farms Park. The only thing any days have in common is that anything could happen. I’ve been here for 15 years and I’ve never once been bored. 

Here are some things I’ve seen from my office window this week: 
-So many dogs (I love all of them)
-A hedgehog
-Kids playing football 
-Kids playing soccer
-A group of teenagers painting 
-A cross country team stretching 
-A stroller workout class
-Tai Chi 
-A corporate meeting
-Business lunches
-A fashion shoot
-Tik Tok videos being filmed
-A rainstorm rolling in over the lake 

Did someone say, "celebrate?" 



Shelby Farms Park Conservancy's vision is to give rise to a celebrated 21st century park that defines and shapes a great city, and our mission is to manage, operate, restore and improve Shelby Farms Park in partnership with and for the public. With the support of our volunteers, donors and partners, we are doing just that! Each year, SFPC privately raises funding for Shelby Farms Park and Shelby Farms Greenline through general donations, corporate and foundation support. If you believe in this mission and want to give back to the park you love and to help make projects like Heart of the Park possible, please click here.

at 01 September 2021

Summer Play in the Park

Sunday, June 20 is the official start of summer and Shelby Farms Park is your official headquarters for summer fun.   

Ready to start playing?  Plan your play day here. 

Want a little more info?  Check out our bucket list so you don’t miss out on a single adventure at the Park.

Boat rentals - Yippee kayak! Paddling the Park is a great way to beat the heat.  Whether you want canoes, kayaks, SUPs or paddleboats, our team will help you paddle the day away! 

Canoes + Cocktails - This event is the hottest ticket in town and has the best views of Memphis sunsets from iconic Hyde Lake! Enjoy a guided evening sunset paddle on the lake followed by socially-distant cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, yard games and music. We do it every Friday evening through September, but tickets go fast.  Grab yours here

Bike rentals - Cruise through the Park’s paved trails on a bike! We have several adult sizes, plus kids’ bikes and trailers.  Our team will help fit you with the perfect sized bike to comfortably enjoy your day at the Park.  Rent your bikes here

MEMPopS - Looking for a yummy treat after all the fun in the sun?  Pop over to the Lake’s Edge Gift Shop and check out the days’ MEMPopS choices. 

Water Play Sprayground - It’s the coolest place in town!  The Water Play Sprayground has four hours of come and go play time. Grab your pass here for either a morning or afternoon play session of great splashing opportunities. 

Woodland Discovery Playground - The Playground is open!  We missed play days, but are excited that this well-loved space is now open for fun daily from 9am to an hour before sunset. 

Climbing Boulders - While the Playground was closed, we were busy adding a little fun by installing two new kids’ boulders! These climbing boulders are 7 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter and have hand and footholds carved into the surface with varying levels of difficulty.  Want to learn more?  Click here

Fitness Classes - From pilates to tai chi, you’ll see it in our summer line up of free fitness classes. 

We are serving up fun daily from sunrise to sunset and we can’t wait to see you in the Park this summer! 

at 18 June 2021

Wildlife Education: Fish

Shelby Farms Park has more than 20 lakes and ponds, more than 40 miles of trails, and a variety of plant and animal species that call the Park "home". Today, let's learn about fish and some of their characteristics!

Fish are a diverse group of animals that share certain characteristics. For example, fish live in water and have fins that are used for swimming, turning, keeping an upright position, and more. (Due to the large variety of species of fish, there are exceptions to some of the characteristics mentioned in the following questions.)

Fish are classified as vertebrates because they have a backbone and skeletal system. This picture below shows a model of a fish skeleton.


A fish has gills located on the sides of its head. Most fish use gills to absorb oxygen from the water and release carbon dioxide into the water. Fish have a two-chambered heart (1 atrium and 1 ventricle) that pumps blood. Deoxygenated blood (blood without oxygen) returns to the atrium from the body. Blood travels from the atrium into the ventricle. Blood is pumped out of the ventricle and travels to the gills where the blood becomes oxygenated. The blood carries oxygen to the rest of the body and returns to the atrium.


Nature Challenge – Take a nature walk around a lake at Shelby Farms Park (or around a lake near you) and look for fish in the water as you walk.

at 17 June 2021

Wildlife Education: Animals With Backbones

Shelby Farms Park has more than 20 lakes and ponds, more than 40 miles of trails, and a variety of plant and animal species that call the Park "home". Today, let's learn about animals with backbones!

A variety of living things are classified as animals. However, only 5 major groups of animals have backbones. An animal that has a backbone and skeletal system is called a vertebrate.  Vertebrates are animals with backbones and skeletal systems. A backbone can also be called a spine, spinal column, or vertebral column. The individual bones that make up a backbone are called vertebrae. Can you locate the backbone in the model of this toad skeleton?


Insects do not have a backbone or internal skeleton. Instead, they have an exoskeleton which is a hard outer covering that protects their body. The 5 groups of vertebrates (animals that have a backbone) are fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Invertebrates are animals that do not have a backbone. A spider is an invertebrate because it is an animal without a backbone. Spiders are classified as arachnids (not insects). As mentioned above, the 5 major groups of vertebrates are fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. A frog is an amphibian, so it has a backbone. A skink is a reptile, so it has a backbone. A buffalo is a mammal, so it also has a backbone.   

Nature Challenge – Take a nature walk, and find examples of vertebrates. Can you see or hear at least one example from each of the 5 groups of vertebrates?
at 10 June 2021

Happy National Trails Day!

National Trails Day is coming up on June 5, 2021! This special day celebrates and recognizes the benefits of trails, and the 40+ miles of trails at Shelby Farms Park play an important role in our community!

Did you know that trail use in Shelby Farms Park nearly tripled in 2020? The trails got a lot of use, and we need your support to help ensure they get some much-needed TLC to keep them in great shape for the busy summer ahead.

Will you please support your trails with a gift of $15?

at 02 June 2021

How You Can Enjoy Park Life This Weekend

What better place to spend your weekend than in Shelby Farms Park! Here are all the ways you can enjoy Parklife this weekend.

Canoes + Cocktails
Kick your weekend off with Canoes + Cocktails every Friday night through September! Enjoy iconic sunset views from a rented canoe or kayak. You can also enjoy the stunning view on your own boat. Afterward, enjoy socially-distant cocktails, music and yard games at Hyde Lake Pavilion. Open rain or shine, learn more and purchase tickets here:


Boat + Bike Rentals
Explore the Park on land or water with bike + boat rentals! Now open 7 days a week, rent one of our new fleet of bikes at the Hyde Lake Wheel House or rent a canoe, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) from the Hyde Lake Boat House. Book and reserve your spot here! 

Don’t forget--May is national bike month! Click here to learn how can get in gear to celebrate at the Park!


Red Dresses to Honor Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
Shelby Farms Park is proud to be a part of the exhibition of Red Dresses to Honor Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. You can find details here.


Puppy Play at the Outback Off-Leash Area
Shelby Farms Park is a popular place for pups! Visit here to learn how you and your pup can enjoy the over 100 acres of fun in the Outback Off-Leash Area!

We have some PAWS-itively exciting news! Shelby Farms Park is in the running for a chance to win up to $100,000 in the Dog Park Dash! Visit here 
to learn ways you + your pup can help!

at 21 May 2021

It's National Bike Month!

Get in gear to celebrate National Bike Month at Shelby Farms Park! May is National Bike Month, and what better way to celebrate than by renting a bike and checking out the paved trails at Shelby Farms Park?

You can BYO-Bike, or rent a brand new bike at the Hyde Lake Wheel House which is now open seven days a week!

Our new rental bikes feature a digital monitor that helps keep up with your maximum speed, average speed, trip distance, total distance, and elapsed time. This information is fun and helpful for riders who want to keep up with their trips, but it also helps us monitor and predict maintenance needs so that our fleet stays in tip-top shape!

Step-through and straight-frame bikes are available in several adult sizes.  And, we have kids' bikes and trailers so that the whole family can get in on the fun! Our retail team will help fit you and your family with the perfect size bike so you can comfortably enjoy the paved trails in the Park and on Shelby Farms Greenline.

You may also notice that our new fleet features grease-free carbon belt drives instead of traditional chains. Rubber belts require less maintenance and last longer, which means lower operating expenses for the Park. This eco-friendly upgrade also results in a quieter ride! Reserve your ride online here

Another wheel-y great option for cruising around Shelby Farms Park is the city's first and only eBike fleet! We’ve partnered with Explore Bike Share to bring pedal-assist eBikes to the Park. The electric bikes, powered by Bosch, use an electric
motor and battery to help bike share users power their bike ride. On pedal assist eBikes, the assist only kicks in when pedaling. The motor amplifies the power behind each pedal stroke, providing a natural riding feeling. Stations are located at the First Horizon Foundation Visitor Center and at the South Hyde Lake parking lot and bikes can be reserved through the Explore Bike Share app. Get more info here.

Source: Explore Bike Share

at 20 May 2021

Dog Park Dash

We have some PAWS-itively exciting news! Shelby Farms Park is in the running for a chance to win up to $100,000 in the Dog Park Dash! This generous grant funding, supplied by the Boyd Foundation, is being awarded to projects across the state of Tennessee, and we are honored to be selected as a potential award winner!

One of the biggest deciding factors for the awards in community engagement, so we need your help to win! 

We have provided two quick and simple ways that you can show your support and to share this opportunity with your friends:


Showing your support on your social media pages is as easy as 1...2...3!

1. Post a cute picture of your pup (Please consider making your post public to guarantee that it is visible by the granting organization.)

2. Caption your picture with a sentence or two that shares why the Shelby Farms Park dog park is important to you and why you think it deserves this grant funding.

3. Use these hashtags in your post to make that it is counted by the granting organization: #DogParkDash2021 #ShelbyFarmsPark



Visit to fill out this short form (it’s one question!) to let the granting organization know why the Shelby Farms Park dog park is important to you and why you think it deserves funding support!


The deadline for sharing posts and submitting notes is May 31, 2021.

Thank you for your help and support!

at 12 May 2021

National Fitness Day

May 1 is National Fitness Day and Shelby Farms Park is a great place to get fit.  Whether you are taking the first steps of a fitness journey or are a weekend warrior, you will find just the right activity at the Park  


Play the Shelby Farms Park Fitness Challenge Bingo. Challenge yourself to complete a vertical, horizontal or diagonal bingo by completing various fitness activities in the Park. Download or print your card here.

Hit The Trails
Did you know that Shelby Farms Park is home to more than 40 miles of trails? With both paved and unpaved options, you can vary your walks, hikes, runs and bike rides to keep things interesting! You can find trail details here
Keep up with your miles on the Greenline using the Campbell Clinic mile markers!

Outdoor Fitness Stations
Did you know that we have an outdoor circuit workout station? This free-to-use amenity features equipment to help you complete a full-body fitness session at your own pace! You can find detailed instructions and video links that demonstrate how to use the equipment at each station. 

Free Fitness Classes
Catch a free Get Outside! Fitness class.  The class lineup currently includes yoga, pilates, Tai Chi and Total Body Conditioning. Check out the class schedule here.
Thanks to Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation for making these classes possible. 

Think Outside the Trail
We're big fans of hitting the ground running, but a unique way to workout at Shelby Farms Park is to take to the water! You can work up a serious sweat by paddling around the 80-acre Hyde Lake on a canoe, kayak or SUP! You can BYOBoat or rent one at the Hyde Lake boat house. 

at 30 April 2021
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