Park Life Blog

Page 3 of 7

Adjusting Hyde Lake Levels

April showers bring May flowers...and varying water levels in Hyde Lake! But, did you know that we can control just how much water is in this 80-acre lake?

Maintaining any body of water is a big job, and with a lake this large, the hardworking Park's Operations Team keeps a close eye on water levels every day to help prevent erosion along the shores and to help prevent flooding around the lake. Even the most gentle waves can erode the banks!


This valve allows us to raise the lake levels.  It is opened during dry conditions when we are trying to collect additional rainwater runoff to raise the lake level back to normal (“full”) conditions.


This photo is the lowering valve that is in the center of the lake spillway.

We can't control the weather, but we can preventatively control water levels!
 The Operations team keeps a close eye on weather forecasts, and when significant rainfall is predicted, whether over a multi-day period or a large amount in a short window of time, they can release water through a special gate on the lake's western edge, lowering the overall water level in the lake and making room for new water. The water flows under Farm Road and, thanks to the watershed, eventually makes its way to the Wolf River. Did you know that one inch of steady rainfall can raise the lake by more than three inches?! And rain isn't the only precipitation that can raise water levels⏤the lake levels were adjusted to accommodate run-off from melting snow and ice in February 2021!

So, the next time you are walking the trail around Hyde Lake and think the lake looks a little different than the last time you saw it, you could be right!

at 13 April 2021

Wildlife Education: Photosynthesis

Shelby Farms Park has more than 20 lakes and ponds, more than 40 miles of trails, and a variety of plant and tree species that call the Park "home". Today, let's learn about the process by which these plants get their energy and become green-- photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis is the process of using sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to produce sugars and oxygen. Sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide are the reactants; sugar and oxygen are the products. One reason why plants play an important role in the environment is because the process of photosynthesis produces oxygen which living things need to survive. Photosynthesis takes place in chloroplasts. Chloroplasts contain chlorophyll which is a pigment that absorbs sunlight and gives leaves their green color.

Autotrophs are organisms that make their own food using sunlight or chemical energy. Because an autotroph can “produce” its own food, it is often called a producer. Many autotrophs such as grasses, trees, and other plants perform photosynthesis. During the process of photosynthesis, these autotrophs absorb sunlight energy and convert it into sugars, which stores chemical energy. 

Take a nature walk and identify 3 examples of organisms (living things) that perform photosynthesis.

To find additional education resources, click here.

Special thanks to International Paper for helping make education programs at Shelby Farms Park possible.

at 25 March 2021

Wildlife Education: White-tailed Deer

Shelby Farms Park has more than 20 lakes and ponds, more than 40 miles of trails, and a variety of animal and plant species that call the Park "home". Today, let's learn about one of those species, one that can often be seen peeking through the forests and brush of the Park--the white-tailed deer. 

White-tailed deer live in Shelby Farms Park and throughout the state of Tennessee. Because they eat a variety of plant material, white-tailed deer are classified as herbivores. Herbivores are also called plant-eaters because they eat producers such as grasses, parts of trees, and a variety of other plants.* Their agility, leaping ability, and excellent sense of smell help them pick up the scent of nearby predators and escape them. Fawns (young deer) have white spots which also provide camouflage and help them hide from predators. You can spot the difference between male and female white-tailed deer by searching for antlers. Only male white-tailed deer grow antlers, female white-tailed deer do NOT grow antlers. 

*Carnivores are also called meat-eaters, and omnivores eat both plants and meat.

Thanks to International Paper for helping make education programs at Shelby Farms Park possible.

at 18 March 2021

Green for All

Today is St. Patrick's Day, and it's got us thinking about all things green! Our favorite green thing is, of course, Shelby Farms Greenline (it's got, "green" right there in its name!). Just for fun, we put together six fun facts about the trail:


1. Did you know that Shelby Farms Greenline used to be a rail line? Train tracks used to lie where your favorite path is today. Trains hadn't run on this section in many years and the land was pretty much abandoned and unused, so Shelby Farms Park Conservancy teamed up with Shelby County Government to secure a right-of-way for the land, turning it into a cycling and pedestrian trail. This type of transformation is called a rails-to-trail project, and Shelby Farms Greenline is one of the most popular types of rails-to-trails projects in the region!


2. Shelby Farms Greenline was built in phases. The first section of trail opened in 2010. This 6.5-mile stretch connects the heart of Memphis to the Park, running from Tillman Street to Farm Road. The second phase extended the trail 4 miles to the east, connecting Farm Road to Old Cordova, and making the trail just over 10 miles long in total. An additional future extension is planned to extend the trail two more miles on the east end.


3. The mile markers run east and west. The trail was designed to connect trail fans to the Park and to each other, so the 0.0 mile marker sits at the Farm Road. If you head west, the markers run from 0.0 to 6.5W. If you head east, they run from 0.0 to 4E. Shoutout to our friends at Campbell Clinic for helping us keep track of the miles by sponsoring the markers!


4. Nearly 200,000 visitors enjoy the trail each year! How do we know this? A special system of Eco Counters are installed at key points on the trail and in the Park to help the Conservancy better understand where and how* visitors access the Park and Greenline.

*Yes, how! These in-ground counters use a pressure system that is sensitive enough that it can detect whether a cyclist or pedestrian (or cars at vehicle entrances) has crossed the entry point.

5. Shelby Farms Greenline runs on love! Keeping this incredible amenity clean, green, safe and open 365-days a year (or 366 days in leap years like 2020) is a big job! From the daily maintenance and care that the Park team provides, to volunteers lending a hand, to the donors whose gifts make this work possible, taking care of a 10+ mile trail is a team effort!

6. Shelby Farms Greenline is growing!
 Learn more about the upcoming extension plan that will further connect Midtown Memphis to the trail here!

at 17 March 2021

Wildlife Education: Deciduous Trees

Shelby Farms Park has more than 20 lakes and ponds, more than 40 miles of trails, and a variety of plant and tree species that call the Park "home". Today, let's learn about one of those types of trees--deciduous trees--and why they lose their leaves.

Some trees have broad leaves that change colors in the fall or winter and then fall off. These trees are called deciduous trees. Why do deciduous trees lose their leaves in fall and winter? Deciduous trees, by losing their leaves, can conserve water and energy needed by other parts of the tree. The process of losing its leaves also helps a deciduous tree survive the winter. In addition, this process helps the tree get rid of damaged leaves and prepares the tree to produce new leaves in the upcoming spring. 

Chlorophyll is involved in the process of photosynthesis and is also related to why the leaves of deciduous trees change color. Chlorophyll is a pigment that gives leaves their green color. Photosynthesis is the process of using sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and sugars. These sugars can be stored or used by the tree for energy. In the fall, deciduous trees begin preparing for the winter. The tree stops producing chlorophyll and breaks down the chlorophyll present in the leaves. However, there are additional pigments present in leaves. When the chlorophyll is broken down and the green color is no longer present, these additional pigments of yellow, orange, or red can be seen in the leaves of deciduous tree species.

Thanks to International Paper for helping make education programs at Shelby Farms Park possible.

at 11 March 2021


Mark your calendars! Starting March 14th, we will all have one extra hour of daylight. Spend it wisely and use those 60 minutes doing something fun and active with us at Shelby Farms Park!

Here are 8 things to do at Shelby Farms Park with your extra hour of sunlight.

  1. Bring your workout to the great outdoors with free, socially-distant Get Outside! Fitness classes! We all know it’s hard to get motivated to get fit after a busy day when it’s dark before dinner. So use this extra bit of daylight to finally get around to it! The schedule can be found here.

  2. Looking to see more of the Park? Ride a bike or take a hike on the Shelby Farms Greenline! With more time on your hands, there’s no reason not to hit these 10+ miles of trail and get the most out of your day. Find trail tips and learn more here.

  3. And don’t forget about the pup! Let go of the leash and let your dog enjoy the Outback Off-Leash Dog Park.  Find some fresh air for everyone! Be sure to give our rules and tips a glance here before visiting.

  4. Celebrate and enjoy food in the great outdoors at our Park pavillions! There’s no better combo for a picnic than fresh air and fresh food. Learn more and find pavillion forms here.

  5. Rather have someone else make the food for you? Order online from Cheffie's Cafe + Market or make a reservation at Coastal Fish Company! Enjoy an excellent meal outdoors on our fabulous open-air porch overlooking Hyde Lake. Watch the sun set an hour later with some fine dining or a cocktail. For more information and updates, be sure to check out Cheffie's here or Coastal Fish Company's here.

  6. Don’t forget that once it warms up, you can start using your extra spring hours doing even more at Shelby Farms Park. Bring your own kayak, canoe, or paddleboard! Go fishing! We have over 20+ lakes and ponds, so don’t hesitate to hit the water this spring! Learn more about your options here.

  7. Warmer weather and longer days means it will also be perfect conditions to hit the trails and go horseback riding here at Shelby Farms Park. Learn how to saddle up here.

  8. And finally, Go Ape Treetop Adventure and Axe Throwing opened on March 6th! Swing into spring and traipse through trees on these obstacle courses and ziplines or grab your hatchets and stick the target in the beautiful forests of Shelby Farms Park! Learn more and book your session here.

Make the most of your day, every day, and spend your extra hours with us at Shelby Farms Park this spring!

Stay safe and healthy, Park fans!

at 10 March 2021

Wildlife Education: What are Producers and Consumers?

Shelby Farms Park has more than 20 lakes and ponds, more than 40 miles of trails, and a variety of animal and plant life that call the Park "home". There are many ways to classify plants and animals, one of which being as a producer or a consumer. Today, let's learn about producers and consumers and the differences between them.


What is a Producer?
Organisms are living things such as animals, plants, and fungi. Organisms require energy to survive, but they obtain their energy in different ways.  Some organisms make their own food using sunlight or chemical energy. These organisms are often referred to as producers. Producers are also often called autotrophs because an autotroph can “produce” its own food. Autotrophs, such as trees, grass and other plants, are organisms that make their own food using sunlight (solar energy) or chemical energy.


What is a Consumer?
Consumers are organisms that must "consume" their energy from other organisms.  Mushrooms and molds obtain energy by absorbing nutrients from organisms in their environment. The great blue heron is another example of an organism that obtains its energy by eating other organisms. Heterotrophs are organisms that obtain their energy by eating or absorbing nutrients from other organisms. Because a heterotroph must “consume” its energy from other organisms, it is also called a consumer.

Take a walk outside and see if you can find examples of producers and consumers in the natural world!

To find additional education resources, click here.

Special thanks to International Paper for helping make education programs at Shelby Farms Park possible.

at 02 March 2021

Winter Weather at the Park

Whether you love the snow or are already counting down the days until spring, we can probably all agree the Park is beautiful in this winter weather.  Enjoy these sights from this week in the Park. Stay safe and warm, Park fans!


at 19 February 2021

The extra magic behind the production of Starry Nights 2020

Starry Nights is the event that powers Shelby Farms Park and Shelby Farms Greenline, and we’d like to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what powers Starry Nights!

Starry Nights is hands down the largest scale and longest running event at Shelby Farms Park, and putting an event of this scale together takes a lot of planning and a lot of teamwork! This year, Shelby Farms Park Conservancy partnered up with ProductionOne, which is a locally owned and operated business that provides audio, video, lighting and staging for events, concerts and special events of all sizes. This talented team at ProductionOne is responsible for the creation, production and installation of Starry Nights, and we want to share some of their history and hard work with you! We recently talked with ProductionOne’s CEO and Founder, Kiley Butler, to learn more about his connections to Shelby Farms Park and the pandemic pivot his company took that led to their role with Starry Nights!

Tell us a little bit about ProductionOne.
Our business started about 20 years ago as a nonprofit. I got a call from a church that needed some help organizing camps and conferences for teenagers and quickly discovered if you're a nonprofit and want to do your own events, then you'd better own your own gear.  So, I bought two projectors and two screens the next day, and that was the start of ProductionOne.

Our mission started, and has always been, to help others achieve their vision for their event.  To this day, seventy-five percent of our clients are nonprofit and government organizations.  We used to be one so we know the importance of creating a big bang on a budget. We try to not be a production company that tells you how you’re going to do your event.  We want to be a partner with the client and help them communicate their message to their audience.  It’s not about us.  It’s about serving the client. 

We are a one stop shop that can offer audio, video, lighting, staging, cameras, and streaming; with ProductionOne your event can be a turn-key experience. 

Besides working with us at Shelby Farms Park, who are some of your other clients?
We have worked with a lot of local businesses including Memphis Zoo, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis Area Association of Realtors, the Halloran Centre and Bartlett Performing Arts Center.  We’ve been on the road with artists including Alison Krauss and Kirk Whalum.

How did the pandemic impact your business?
The majority of our business was meetings, conferences, concerts and other similar events, so all of those events were canceled or postponed when the pandemic hit.

We weren’t doing many events other than the Park’s drive-in movie nights. Those events really helped keep us alive during the summer. 

In the early spring we received a call from the team at the Park to see if we were interested in producing Starry Nights. We’ve been involved with Starry Nights doing some small displays and laser elements for around nine years, but certainly not the whole show.  

Again our main focus was concerts and meetings. We had little experience in specialty events. And, not an event to the scale of Starry Nights. But, because we are creative and motivated, we were able to pivot our concert business to specialty events. 

Starry Nights is a huge event for Memphis; it gives so much to Memphis. But this year, it’s given more than people realize. It helped keep our company alive and it made a difference to a lot of people. 

Were there any big pivot points as you worked on Starry Nights? 
Starry Nights was scheduled to open on Friday, November 27 and my team had been working day and night to get ready. And, we were almost ready. Then, with less than two weeks before the opening night, a big storm came through overnight and really did some damage to the displays.  Over half of show’s displays were torn down from the wind and two of our larger displays - the 35 foot ribbon tree on the Visitor Center lawn and the 25 foot tower of presents - were both toppled. 

We needed some extra help and we needed it quick. So, I called a crew of Memphis-based concert stage hands who were all without work as a result of the pandemic. No concerts means no need for stage hands. So we brought this local group in and they got to work. They helped restore all the displays and the show opened on time and intact on Friday night.  

Starry Nights gives so much to Memphis and this year it’s given more than holiday cheer as it helped my business and also helped many other people who were in need of work. This event has been a blessing to people and been a blessing for people at the same time.

What are some of your favorite pieces of Starry Nights? 
I love the Frosty’s Pinball game as it’s a nod to the old Rolling Balls display. I also love the animated Floating Forrest on Pine Lake. I have a personal favorite and connection to another piece, too. Twenty-two years ago, I asked my wife to marry me right under the large oak tree right at the Starry Nights entry arch.  That tree always looks like it’s bursting with life and now it just bursts with colors.  

Any last words about Starry Nights at Shelby Farms Park? 
I’ve loved Shelby Farms Park for a long time and creating this year’s Starry Nights has been a joy. The ProductionOne team has a blast creating something that is so beautiful.  We want Starry Nights to bring smiles and a little magic back in people’s lives.

To learn more about ProductionOne, click here.
To learn more about Starry Nights and to purchase tickets, click here

at 24 December 2020

Headed to Starry Nights? Here's what you need to know

Starry Nights will be shining brightly on select nights through January 3, and we've put together some quick tips and reminders to help you plan and enhance your experience! Check out the info below, and if you need more info, head to the Starry Nights event page for full event details, FAQ and more!

As we get closer to Christmas, lines will be longer and so will wait times. We're working hard to keep traffic flowing without rushing guests through the lights, so please pack your patience and be kind in line!

These locations will help mark estimated approximate wait times from that point to the ticket booth:

  • From Main Entrance Gate (Farm Road and Great View Drive North intersection): approximately 30 minutes

  • From Walnut Grove and Farm Road intersection / Mullins Station Road and Farm Road intersection: approximately 90 minutes


The show’s route is 1.5 miles long and it takes approximately 30 minutes to drive through. 


Whether you already have a ticket or need to purchase a ticket, all cars should enter Starry Nights from Farm Road on to Great View Drive North through the Park’s main gate. If using a navigation system, use the intersection of "Farm Road + Great View Drive North " as the reference point in your location search. Note: Your system may attempt to reroute you around traffic to another Park gate, but you may only enter through the Park's main gate. Look for the Starry Nights sign at the entrance!


Have little ones in your vehicle?  Extra toys and snacks may come in handy to entertain and help pass the time. You can find a free mobile and printable Starry Nights scavenger hunt!

The closest portable restroom is located near the ticket booth.

Fill up with gas before you come! 

Remember to pack your patience and be kind in line.


Starry Nights is the largest annual fundraiser for Shelby Farms Park and Shelby Farms Greenline. Proceeds from this event help keep these community assets open and operating for more than 3 million visitors a year. Thank you for your support and for spending part of your holiday with us!

Thanks to our sponsors who help Starry Nights shine!

AutoZone | Brother | nexAir | TMobile
Alston Construction | Choate's Air Condtioning Heating Plumbing 
Compass Intervention Center | Cushman & Wakefield / Commercial Advisors 
Hope Church | Memphis Area Honda Dealers | Mold Terminator
Pfizer | Tioga Environmental Consultants

at 16 December 2020
Find your place in the Park

Explore Park Experiences