Let's Go See Mud Island River Park

Mud Island Skyline / Jack Kenner

Have you ever wanted to play on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River? 

You can. It’s called Mud Island River Park and there are five things to know before you go: 

1. It’s fun to get there.

Take the Skybridge, accessible from the public parking lot at Front Street and Poplar Avenue. You could walk the bridge; it’s only a half-mile to the park (plus some stairs) and you’ll get to really savor those river views as you stroll above it. But with electric scooter rentals downtown and new Explore Bike Share stations on both sides of the bridge, why not cruise over?

You could also stop in at the 4th Cup kiosk at the River Garden and rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard to paddle across the calm waters of the harbor to reach the park. Rentals are $20 per person and available seven days a week from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (last boat leaves at 4 p.m.) on a walk-up basis; no reservations required!

If you prefer to drive, or if you use a stroller or wheelchair, the best access point is paid parking in the North Lot, accessible from the A. W. Willis Bridge.   

2. Playing in the park is free.

The centerpiece of Mud Island River Park is the Riverwalk, a scale replica of the Lower Mississippi River from Cairo, Illinois, to just south of New Orleans, Louisiana. Walk alongside it (or splash in it) and you’ll pass through six states in the span of roughly five city blocks. The Riverwalk ends at a million-gallon pool representing the Gulf of Mexico, surrounded by views of the river and downtown Memphis. Strolling the Riverwalk—and soaking in those views—won’t cost you a thing.  

3. There’s a museum onsite. Cafés, too.

Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., check out the park’s Mississippi River Museum. From native cultures that settled along the river thousands of years ago to soldiers engaged in Civil War battles to showboat performers, you’ll get your fill of river history and lore, plus photo ops: Paddle a dugout canoe, pilot a barge or stand on the deck of a replica steamboat and smile. Afterward, pop into either of two onsite cafés for light snacks.

Mississippi River Museum admission is $10 for adults and kids 12 and up, $8 for kids 4-11 and free for kids under 4.

 
MEMPHIS Sign Mud Island / Alex Shansky
Mud Island River Park / Leah Gafni
Bass Pro Mud Island - Memphis
Kayak Wolf River Harbor/ Logan Young
There's a lot to see and do at Mud Island River Park

4. The park hosts two free concert series. 
Once a month, “A Vibe on the Island” showcases a different genre, while summer’s twice-monthly “Soulin’ on the River” series—curated by local musician Tonya Dyson—spotlights Memphis’ new generation of soul musicians. Watch the park’s events calendar for vendor announcements and additional information. 

Soulin' on the River 2019: 
6/7 Tonya Dyson
6/21 Katrina Anderson
7/12 Black Cream
7/26 Nick Black
8/9 Lucky 7 Brass Band 

A Vibe on the Island 2019:
6/15 Jazz in June
All Vibe on the Island events are planned from 6-8 p.m. Genres are TBD for the following nights, but go ahead and mark your calendar:  
7/4  
8/24
9/14
10/12

5. It’s a great place to just hang out.  Think of Mud Island River Park like any other park—with a bit more magic, thanks to its island location. Seven days a week from dusk to dawn, you can: 

  • Get on the water
    Kayak Memphis offers walk-up rentals for kayaks and stand-up paddleboards that you can use to explore the calm waters of the Harbor and park on Mud Island River Park. Just check out their colorful kiosk, 4th Cup, located in the River Garden at Mississippi River Park. Rentals are open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are $20. For events on the island, like the concerts listed above, Kayak Memphis runs deals and specials. 

    SUP901 offers guided tours on stand-up paddleboards through Wolf River Harbor as well as SUP YOGA classes in the pool area at Mud Island River Park. Book ahead of time through their website.

  • Bring your dog (on a leash)
    When you're done exploring Mud Island River Park, you can let Fido off leash at Mud Island Dog Park in Harbor Town. 
  • Spin on a cheery yellow tire swing
  • Enjoy a picnic in a grove of trees
  • Claim a riverside hammock with an unforgettable view
  • Get dressed up and bring your fiance or family for a photo shoot (Mud Island River Park doesn’t charge a professional photographer fee)
  • Snap that selfie with the MEMPHIS sculpture before the Bicentennial ends 

Just do it by the end of October, when Mud Island River Park closes for the season.