Shelby Farms, located in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. At a size of 4,500 acres (18 km square), it covers more than five times the area of Central Park in New York City with 843 acres (3.41 km square).
Lakes, natural forests, and wetlands provide natural habitats for many smaller species close to an urban metropolitan area. Wildlife can be observed in their natural environment from the many trails in the park. Shelby Farms park is home to a bison herd.
The land that forms Shelby Farms park was derived from property that had been privately owned in the 19th century. In 1825, humanist reformer Frances Wright founded the Nashoba Commune on parts of what is modern day Shelby Farms. The purpose of the commune was to emancipate slaves by providing education in practical and cultural skills. Remains of a settlement from the late 19th century are still present in the modern day park.
Wildlife including beavers, deer, turtles, and different species of birds can be observed in their natural environment. Although the park is surrounded by routes used by commuter traffic, smaller species can still find habitats large enough to survive.
Shelby Farms park is home to a bison herd on 56 acres (230,000 m square) of pasture land. Former Shelby County Mayor Bill Morris was instrumental, along with park superintendent Tom Hill, in introducing the bison, which now number about 45.
Hiking and biking trails meandering through the park allow visitors to observe wildlife and nature. On two lakes rowing boats are allowed. On one of latter two lakes, Patriot Lake, pedal boats can be rented. There is a 1.67 miles (2.7 km) paved trail around Patriot Lake. Another paved trail, the 2.75 miles (4.4 km) long Chickasaw Trail, is available to hikers. An unpaved trail, the Tour de Wolf, takes hikers and bikers through the woods of Shelby Farms Park for 6.08 miles (9.8 km). The paved trails are suitable for walking, running, biking, and roller-blading. The Tour de Wolf is suitable for walking, running, and mountain-biking. Off-leash dog activities are designated in a 120-acre (49-ha) area that includes meadows, lakes and hiking trails.
Horseback riding is allowed in parts of the park and on a few trails. Horses can be rented as well. A designated runway to start and land miniature radio control aircraft is present in the park for public use. An 18-hole disc golf course is located near the welcome center of the park.