Reasons to Love Memphis #8: Model Rivers on the Real River

Reasons to Love Memphis #8: Model Rivers on the Real River

It's the Mighty Mississippi, but mini.

There's something wonderful about a half-mile long scale model of the Mississippi River in the Mud Island River Park, which sits in the actual Mississippi River.  

Mud Island River Park functions just like any other city park, so it is open year-round from dawn 'til dusk and is free to enter.

Keep reading for parking/access instructions.

concrete to-scale model of MS River at Mud Island park
Holly Whitfield
pool on Mud Island River Park and skyline
Holly Whitfield

A complete model of the Mississippi River would be space-prohibitive, so the model is just of the lower half of the river. It's made of  1,746 pre-cast concrete panels that each weigh eight and a half tons. The best part? You can totally play Godzilla and take off your shoes to walk in it. Just be careful - some of those concrete plates can be sharp.

The River Walk ends at New Orleans into Lake Pontchartrain (which, unlike the real thing, has a giant fountain in the middle of it) and the Gulf of Mexico, which is a huge 3 ft. deep pool.

When it's warm out, you can sometimes rent a paddle boat and paddle around the gulf and check out the Memphis skyline—check online for availability.

How To Get To Mud Island River Park

- Walk across the Skybridge. 
Enter through the parking lot at Front and Poplar. It's about a half-mile to the park, and that includes stairs. 

- Ride a bike or scooter.
Grab one of the ubiquitous scooters or rent an Explore Bike Share bike to get across—there are stations on both sides of the Skybridge.

- Kayak across the harbor. 
Go to the River Garden and rent a kayak or paddleboard to paddle across the calm harbor waters. This is only available seasonally from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's $20 per person and you don't need reservations.

- Drive and walk. 
You can park in the paid North Lot via the A.W. Willis Bridge. This is the best option if you have a stroller or use a wheelchair.

The Giant MEMPHIS Sign at Mud Island

If you keep walking past the "Gulf" you'll get to the big MEMPHIS sign that was installed in honor of Memphis's bicentennial in 2019. It's a favorite of Instagrammers and photographers.

Memphis Sign | Alex Shansky
Alex Shansky

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Reasons to Lov…
[...] River Park: Mud Island offers one of the best meta-river experiences in town. Their river walk is a scale model of the Lower Mississippi on an island in the middle of said river. The park also has paddle boats, kayak rentals, overnight [...]
October 27, 2010 12:18pm
I Love Memphis…
[...] in glass. There’s a marble fountain and a little house that’s a replica of the hotel (another instance of a model thing on the real thing in [...]
October 2, 2009 1:30pm
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[...] 7. Walk the Mississippi River on Mud Island [...]
June 7, 2010 1:49pm
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[...] at Peabody Park in Midtown and a spray park in Collierville. Kick your shoes off and walk the Riverwalk on Mud Island. Look into day passes at local clubs and community [...]
June 15, 2010 11:23am