Memorable Camping At Memphis

A Weekend Under the Stars: Making Memories While Camping in Memphis

Tucked away between the rolling green hills and deep blue waters of Tennessee lies the city of Memphis, home to world-famous barbecue, blues music, and Elvis Presley’s Graceland. While most tourists flock to the bustling downtown streets and lively Beale Street, Memphis also offers a more peaceful escape from city life through its wealth of campgrounds and nature parks. Whether you prefer pitching a tent surrounded by lush forests or parking your RV alongside the Mississippi riverfront, camping allows you to trade skyscrapers for sunsets and create lifelong memories under the stars.

In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know to plan a weekend camping trip to remember in Memphis, from choosing the perfect campground to packing camping essentials. We’ll also share tips for family-friendly activities, safety, and making the most of your outdoor adventure. So lace up those hiking boots, stock up on graham crackers for s’mores, and get ready to embrace the call of the wild right in Memphis’ own backyard.

Choosing a Campground in Memphis

With mild weather year-round and campgrounds to suit every style of camping, Memphis serves as the perfect home base for weekend warriors looking to escape city life. The city boasts over half a dozen campgrounds within a 30 minute drive, each offering a unique outdoor experience. Use this guide to help choose the best campground for your adventure:

Developed Campgrounds

Developed campgrounds offer amenities like restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and sometimes even wifi. These campgrounds accommodate both tent and RV camping.

  • Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park – Just 30 minutes north of downtown Memphis, this park offers large campsites on the shores of Poplar Tree Lake. Hike over 13 miles of trails, fish for bass and bluegill, or rent a canoe.
  • Chickasaw State Park – Located 24 miles east of Memphis, immerse yourself in nature with 32 miles of hiking trails, fishing, and paddling. The campground has both RV and tent sites.
  • T.O. Fuller State Park – One of the only state parks within Memphis’ city limits, T.O. Fuller lies just south of the city. Tent and RV sites available.

Primitive Camping

For a more rugged experience, try one of Memphis’ primitive campgrounds which provide minimal to no amenities. These allow you to truly disconnect from city life.

  • Shelby Farms Park – Though within Memphis’ city limits, Shelby Farms Park has over 1,000 acres of forested wilderness perfect for pitching a tent. No RV hookups.
  • Meeman-Shelby North Primitive Campground – Located adjacent to the main developed campground, this area offers primitive lakeside camping.
  • Fort Pillow State Park – Situated 45 minutes north of Memphis, serene lakeside tent camping immersed in nature.

No matter which campground you choose, be sure to make reservations well in advance of your trip date as sites fill up quickly, especially on weekends. Most accept bookings online.

Family Fun: Camping Activities for All Ages

One of the joys of camping in Memphis is the wealth of family-friendly activities available to keep kids entertained and connected with nature. Here are top picks for all ages:

  • Hiking – Pack your walking shoes to explore sheltered forest trails filled with native wildlife at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park and Chickasaw State Park. Fort Pillow State Park also offers lakeside trails perfect for little legs.
  • Fishing – Let the kids try their hand at landing a catch in the well-stocked lakes of Poplar Tree Lake, Farmington Lake, and Fort Pillow Lake. Just make sure to get a permit.
  • Paddling – Rent a canoe or kayak for adventures along the Mississippi River. Shelby Farms Park also offers kayak and paddle boat rentals for use in their on-site lake.
  • Biking – Miles of paved trails at Shelby Farms and family-friendly bike paths at Greenbelt Park allow for scenic cycling adventures. Bring or rent bikes.
  • S’mores – No camping trip is complete without gooey marshmallows sandwiched between chocolate and graham crackers around the campfire.
  • Nature programs – Join a guided canoe tour or educational program led by park rangers to learn more about local wildlife and ecology. Available at most campgrounds.

Packing Your Camping Essentials

A well-planned camping trip means bringing along the gear and supplies you need to comfortably enjoy the great outdoors. Use this camping checklist to make sure you don’t forget any essentials:


  • Tent with rain fly, poles, and stakes
  • Tarp for creating shade
  • Sleeping bags and pads
  • Camping chairs


  • Cooler with ice
  • Non-perishable foods like granola bars, dried fruit, jerky
  • Camp stove and fuel if cooking meals
  • Plates/utensils
  • Reusable water bottles


  • Hiking shoes
  • Socks and layers for cool nights
  • Rain jacket
  • Swimsuits and water shoes


  • Flashlight or lantern
  • First aid kit
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Multi-tool or pocket knife
  • Fire starter


  • Biodegradable soap
  • Towels
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Toilet paper or wipes
  • Hand sanitizer


  • Camera
  • Hammock
  • Playing cards
  • Paracord
  • Trash bags

By sticking to the camping essentials, you’ll be ready to take on any adventure while keeping your family comfortable. Just don’t overpack – you can always pick up any forgotten items at stores around Memphis.

Camping Safety Tips

While part of the appeal of camping is disconnecting from everyday life, safety should still remain a priority for you and your family. Follow these tips to make sure your camping trip goes off without a hitch:

  • Tell others – Share your camping plans and exact location with friends or family before setting out.
  • Beware wildlife – Follow park rules about food storage and waste to avoid unwanted encounters with bears or other wildlife.
  • Weather watch – Keep an eye on the forecast and avoid pitching tents under trees during storms.
  • Fire safety – Establish a fire ring and always fully extinguish fires before leaving the site or going to sleep.
  • Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water since activity and sun exposure dehydrate you faster outdoors.
  • First aid – Carry a well-stocked first aid kit and know basic injury treatments like cleaning cuts and bandaging sprains.
  • Sun protection – Cover up, apply sunscreen regularly, and wear a hat and sunglasses during sun exposure.
  • Communication – Carry a charged phone or walkie talkies to call for help if needed, but be aware you may not always have service.

Taking basic precautions will allow you to relax and enjoy your outdoor escape knowing you have safety covered. Most importantly, follow park regulations, prepare for likely weather conditions, and use common sense.

Making the Most of Your Camping Trip

Camping in Memphis allows you to trade honky tonks for hiking trails, barbeque for campfire meals, and city lights for starry night skies. Follow this advice to make the most of your weekend escape:

  • Unplug – Leave smartphones behind to truly immerse yourself in nature and enjoy quality time with family.
  • Rise early – Get up before sunrise to witness the dawn chorus of birdsong or take in pastel sunrises.
  • Explore – Wander park trails, paddle area waterways, or drive into Memphis to take in city sights.
  • Capture memories – Bring a camera and take lots of photos to look back on. Have kids journal.
  • Meet your neighbors – Introduce yourself to nearby campers; they can share tips on the best local activities.
  • Try new things – Step outside your comfort zone by fishing, stargazing, or learning a new outdoor skill.
  • Appreciate nature – Stop frequently just to take in views, listen for wildlife, and breathe fresh air.
  • Relax – Savor campfire stories, naps in the hammock, and time away from daily stresses.

With breathtaking scenery, endless activities, and quality bonding time, a weekend of camping in Memphis offers an unforgettable outdoor adventure, without even having to leave the city limits. Escape the urban jungle and make memories to last a lifetime under the starry Tennessee skies.

Frequently Asked Questions About Camping in Memphis

If you’re new to camping, you probably still have some questions about preparing for your first outdoor overnight adventure. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about camping in Memphis:

Q: Do I need reservations to camp in Memphis parks?

A: Most campgrounds accept both reservations and walk-ins, but making a reservation ahead of time guarantees you a site and is highly recommended for summer weekends.

Q: What’s the best campground for families with kids?

A: Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park offers large campsites and family-friendly amenities like playgrounds, hiking trails, and fishing within the park grounds.

Q: Are campfires allowed at Memphis campgrounds?

A: Yes, but check current fire restrictions as these may be in place during dry weather. Always fully extinguish fires before leaving them.

Q: Can I bring my dog camping?

A: Some campgrounds allow pets in designated areas or on leash, but some don’t allow them. Check individual park rules before bringing Fido along.

Q: Is RV camping available?

A: Most campgrounds offer RV-friendly sites with electric and water hookups. Overflow camping may also be available if the main campground fills.

Q: Is camping safe for kids?

A: Absolutely! Just teach basic safety rules and keep a close eye on young children. Camping builds confidence and connections with nature.

Q: What if it rains during our camping trip?

A: Pack rain ponchos and waterproof tents or tarps. Take advantage of any showers to explore city attractions like museums until weather clears up.

Q: Do campsites have bathroom facilities?

A: Developed campgrounds offer restrooms and showers. For primitive sites, be prepared to bring your own portable toilet or toilet paper for outhouses.


For an unforgettable weekend getaway, look no further than camping right in Memphis’ own backyard. With plentiful parks offering stunning lakeside vistas, rolling forest trails, and family-friendly activities, you can experience the magic of the outdoors without sacrificing any of the comforts of home. Follow this guide to choose the perfect campground, pack all your essential gear, and create memories that will burn brighter than any campfire. Ditch the urban jungle, if only for a weekend, and discover adventures, quality time, and renewal through camping Memphis style.


My name is Evelyn and I started Camping The Camp to combine my love of the outdoors with my background in environmental science. I hope you’ll find helpful as you discover the joys of camping. It’s more than a weekend trip - it’s a chance to disconnect from devices, reconnect with loved ones, and make memories to last a lifetime

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