Tennessee’s state parks have verdant and wooded areas with beautiful lakes and massive waterfalls.
Regardless of how you want to connect with nature, these gorgeous nature spots have you covered.
You can visit for day or overnight camping in the woods or along the shoreline, doing anything from bicycling to hiking to boating to fishing.
The parks provide a respite from the city’s bustle and an opportunity to learn about the area’s history and culture.
We found the five best parks with various activities and tons of wildlife to help you plan your next vacation.
You do not need to leave the city too far behind to enjoy the wonders of water, trails, and history. Start your planning!
Map of State Parks Near Memphis TN
Here is a map of the Tennessee state parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Memphis
Here are each of those state parks with distance from Memphis and what is special about each.
1. T.O. Fuller State Park
Location: 1500 W Mitchell Rd, Memphis, TN 38109
Few people realize how much wildlife still exists in Memphis compared to many other big cities in the United States.
It is the only state park within Memphis city boundaries, located near the Mississippi River only eleven miles south of downtown Memphis.
If you need a day or week away from the city, you can spend time in the peace and quiet of nature.
With a full golf course and gorgeous colors and vegetation, it’s the perfect place to relax and soak up vitamin D.
Three trails help visitors to explore the varied terrain. T.O. Fuller State Park is the ideal destination for family activity with options for picnics, and outdoor activities such as frisbee, playgrounds, and ballgames can all be enjoyed on grassy fields.
From early summer until Labor Day, the Olympic-sized swimming pool is open.
This campground contains 45 RV spots, some of which are up to 85 feet long. The majority of the campsites are asphalt, with 50 and 30-amp electric and water hookups.
There is also a fire ring, picnic table, and grill at each site, with a dumping station nearby. When you want to give up the music of the city and switch to the music of nature, then this is the closest and nicest option.
2. Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
Location: 910 Riddick Rd, Millington, TN 38053
Enjoy a gorgeous lake just fifteen miles away from Memphis at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park.
But, the activities do not end there with water activities, disc golf, learning opportunities, hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding.
Shelby Forest, located on the Chickasaw Bluffs, has a mature Bald Cypress and Tupelo swamp, a sandy beach along the Mississippi River, cottages, camping, and local wildlife for more than 20 miles of trails, and a basic store.
The Chickasaw Bluff Trail, which is around eight miles long and wooded, is the most popular hiking trail. The longest loop overlooks Poplar Tree Lake and winds along a bluff.
The Pioneer Springs Trail and Woodland Trail are both excellent but shorter alternatives. The Woodland Trail, often known as the “Red Trail,” is a favorite among trail runners, particularly those preparing for mountainous terrains.
Six two-bedroom standard cabins are available for rent near the coastline of Poplar Tree Lake in a highly wooded area of the park.
In addition, there are 49 campsites with a table, grill, and electrical and water hookups.
Stay long enough to enjoy the impressive wildlife, including deer, turkey, otter, beaver, foxes, and bobcats are plentiful throughout the forest, along with over 200 species of birds.
3. Fort Pillow State Historic Park
Location: 3122 Park Rd, Henning, TN 38041
Fort Pillow State Historic Park is located on the western frontier of Tennessee, about 50 miles north of Memphis.
It is rich in historical and archaeological significance as a critical site of the Civil War along the Mississippi River.
Take a walk around the butterfly gardens, hike along gorgeous pathways, go bird watching, or go boating on the lake.
Just get away from life and enjoy the impressive beauty the state has to offer.
Spend your days here relaxing with a picnic, swimming, and boating on the lake, or visiting the park museum for a history lesson and to see Civil War artifacts such as a surviving canon.
Try out fishing, paddling, or walk the many trails to enjoy the surrounding beauty.
Take the family to the playgrounds, volleyball, horseshoes, or ballgames when you need a break from the water.
The park, which is now a Wildlife Observation Area, is also a popular ‘green camping’ location for RVs and tents, with a no-trash policy and recycling programs.
The family park has 32 campsites, six of which are RV-friendly.
Backcountry camping is accessible via a five-mile moderately tough hiking trek. Fort Pillow State Park also has a picnic area with tables and grills overlooking Fort Pillow Lake.
4. Big Hill Pond State Park
Location: 1435 John Howell Rd, Pocahontas, TN 38061
Big Hill Pond State Park borders the Cypress Creek and the Tuscumbia River about one hundred miles away from Memphis.
The river is supplemented by a number of oxbow lakes and sloughs with lakes and swamps providing an ideal habitat for ducks, wildlife, and fishing.
Visitors to Big Hill Pond State Park who have a passion for horses are welcome to bring them along for the ride with 14 paths at their disposal.
In and around the 35-acre pond, a large stand of cypress trees has grown over time. Four-wheel drive is required to reach the pond, but that just makes the experience all the more fun.
The boardwalk through Dismal Swamp, the Observation Tower, wildlife watching, and Civil War artifacts are just a few of the park’s highlights.
In addition, the park hosts two Bluegrass Music Festivals each year, one in the first weekend of May and the other in the second weekend of October.
There are 28 tents and small RV spots at Big Hill Pond, and each site provides a table and a grill.
While the park offers a nice bathhouse with hot showers, it does not provide hookups or a dump station. Furthermore, a group campsite allows for more fun for crowds with both amenities and primitive camping options.
Finally, hikers can stop overnight at some backcountry shelters for a taste of natural life.
5. Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park
Location: 460 Ozier Rd, Pinson, TN 38366
Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park is about 1,200 acres in size and home to at least 15 Native American mounds.
The complex also comprises Ozier Mound, the Twin Mounds, and Mound 31, in addition to Sauls Mound.
While a little over an hour from Memphis, it’s filled with historical significance and tons of activities.
Hiking routes lead to Native American mounds, and you can visit the museum and discovery room to extend the learning opportunities.
While the park does not offer a lot of activities, it does offer tons of beauty.
Six miles of interconnecting route allow visitors to see the park’s archaeological features and fauna. Bike and wheelchair users can use the paved trail portions.
Easy to difficult gravel/forest floor hiking trails, which do not allow bicycles, are available. These pathways provide access to three interconnected ecosystems: a cypress swamp, mixed beech-oak slopes, and oak-hickory uplands making it perfect for nature lovers.
While the park does not offer individual family camping, groups can visit for church retreats, family reunions, and other group activities.
There are four cabins and a massive center lodge. All of the buildings have air conditioning and are open all year and bunk beds for up to 32 people.
Add in all the other necessities to make the camp more comfortable and to properly enjoy the surrounding nature and wonder.