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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

big cypress lodge

Head To Memphis For The Perfect “Outdoor Family” Vacation 

Maybe it’s Memphis. Maybe it’s a backwater Tennessee swamp. As I sat in a rocking chair on the porch inside of my room inside the Pyramid at Bass Pro Shops, looking out at the Spanish moss hanging from the cypress trees, to be honest, it was hard to tell. Reminiscent of a grand hunting lodge, the sound of crickets lulled me to sleep at night, and the only thing missing was the mosquitos. 

Johnny Morris’s Big…Big Cypress Lodge Vision 

big cypress lodge

The story of how the iconic pyramid and former home of the Memphis Grizzlies became Big Cypress Lodge is a fish story as big as some of the blue catfish caught in the Mississippi River just outside of the resort. In 2015, Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops and owner of Big Cedar Lodge, a wilderness resort in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, was fishing with friends near the pyramid, trying to decide if he should buy it and put in a Bass Pro Shop. His friend, famous outdoorsman Bill Dance tried to help him with the decision, and they agreed that if they caught a 30-pound fish, shortly after, they reeled in a blue cat just over the agreed-upon weight. 

Amazing Accommodations

For those looking for a glamping experience without sacrificing the conveniences of a city, or even just a cold-weather alternative, Big Cypress Lodge is the perfect option. Each of the 103 rustic-elegant guest rooms comes with a view of either the Memphis skyline or the interior wilderness world. 

All of the rooms come complete with electric fireplaces, spa-like bathrooms, and rustic décor reminiscent of a hunting lodge, including antler chandeliers, deer head mounts on the walls, and handcrafted furnishings, most with French doors leading to private screened-in porches with rocking chairs, accommodating parties up to eight. 

The two Duck Cabins are reminiscent of vintage waterfowl hunting cabins with Ducks Unlimited artwork and decor. Two Fly Fishing Lodges feature a downstairs king suite connected by a spiral staircase with an open loft with two queen bunk beds. For the ultimate family glamping experience, the Governor’s Suite features a full kitchen and private balcony overlooking the Cypress Swamp, stocked with fish and alligators, plus views of the pyramid interior. 

big cypress lodge room

Amenities: Spa, Bowling, Sporting Goods Store 

But let’s be honest, despite the realistic outdoor feel of Big Cypress, part of the draw to the property is indoor amenities that you won’t find at glamping resorts in the great outdoors. Ride the tallest freestanding elevator in the country to the top of the pyramid for panoramic views of downtown Memphis, the Mississippi River, and the bridge to Arkansas.  

If you don’t want to, you don’t have to leave the building for anything. Kids will love the 13-lane ocean-themed bowling alley at the Fishbowl at the Pyramid, and adults will appreciate the Big Cypress Lodge Spa by Gould’s, featuring signature Pure Fiji Spa manicures and pedicures.  But everyone will find something in the 535,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shop retail store.  

Gun & Archery Ranges, Wildlife Museums & Bill Dance 

It’s adventure activities set Big Cypress apart from just another hotel. Numerous local, regional, and national fishing tournaments are held onsite, like the Mississippi River Catfish Tournament. The second level features a 25-yard live fire pistol and archery range, and a Ducks Unlimited Waterfowling Heritage Center with interactive wetlands and a waterfowl education museum. Bingo with cocktails, wine, and beer is available for guests 21 and over, but there are plenty of family-friendly activities for all ages, including movie nights and story time with smores at the fire pit on the Mississippi Terrace. My family enjoyed exploring the Cypress swamp with 36 varieties of fish, waterfowl, and alligators. But one of the highlights of our visit was getting to meet a nationally-known fisherman, the legendary Bill Dance of Mississippi River Monsters.  

bill dance

Dining Options Galore

the fishbowl restaurant

All of the activities and shopping can work up an appetite, but there are plenty of dining options to satisfy everyone in the family. Casual dining is available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at The Fishbowl. Wahlburgers Wild, the first of its kind featuring signature “wild” menu items by Chef Paul Wahlberg, is open for lunch and dinner, with a private elevator for lodge guests. But the dining location with the best view is hands-down The Lookout, located at the top of the pyramid that offers both indoor and outdoor seating along with glass observation decks and a 10,000-gallon circular catfish aquarium. Popular menu items include Chef Pinky’s BBQ ribs, bourbon salmon, and cocktails like the Pyramid Margarita, and Tennessee Lemonade. Casual family dining is available on the ground floor Fishbowl at the Pyramid, and smores are available nightly. Room service, available daily for breakfast and for all-day dining, and the hotel lobby bar round out the food and beverage options. 

Other Memphis Hotspots

memphis, tn

If guests decide to venture outside the property, a complimentary shuttle service is available to Beale Street Historic District, Sun Studio, and other downtown attractions. For Memphis favorites like Elvis Presley’s Graceland, and the Memphis Zoo, ride-share services are readily available. But if you’re looking to escape, you don’t have to go any further than your porch. 

For more information, please check out big-cypress.com

Check out YouTuber Brennan Taylor’s 24-hour visit to the Big Cypress Lodge below!

Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife
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