Visitor's Guide to Hernando de Soto Bridge

If you’re in Memphis, a visit to the Hernando de Soto Bridge, or as the residents refer to it, the “New Bridge,” is a must. This bridge is tied-arch and takes the interstate route across the Mississippi River, connecting the cities of West Memphis, Memphis, and Tennessee. This M-shaped bridge is a must-see because of its unique shape.

Scroll through our visitor’s guide to find out about the iconic bridge’s history and where you can get the best view.

Which is the best spot to view Hernando de Soto Bridge?

The Mud Island Park offers the most mesmerizing views of the city of Memphis. You can pack a picnic basket and sit by the Mississippi River, walk along the river banks, or ride a bike on the paved pathways. Mud Island Park will cater to your needs no matter what type of outing you wish to have.

You can experience the Hernando de Soto Bridge up close by renting out the paddle boats and rafts from the park authorities. It is the perfect way to go around the bridge and witness the masterpiece’s details.

Watching the waterfront concert at the park amphitheater is highly recommended in the evening. After sunset, the hundreds of lights on this bridge shine brightly, making for a spectacular view for onlookers.

How is the bridge illuminated?

When it was first built, Hernando de Soto Bridge was fitted with approximately 200 sodium vapor lights along the “m” structure. A private collection drive was carried out to raise the costs for purchasing and installing the lights; it raised $373,000, and the lights were first illuminated on 5th September 1986.

With the grand opening of the Big River Crossing along Harahan Bridge, officials announced they would replace the sodium vapor lights on Hernando de Soto Bridge with LED lights. These lights can change colors and patterns depending on special occasions. The “Mighty Lights” privately funded project to upgrade both bridges was launched in 2018 and raised $14 million.

Why was the Hernando de Soto Bridge built?

In 1960, Tennessee and Arkansas officials began preliminary planning to cross the Mississippi River. There were a lot of disagreements between the state officials concerning the cost of the bridge and the design elements.

Tennessee believed the costs should be split equally, while Arkansas felt it should pay less since it has a smaller population. The two states compromised on the budget where Tennessee agreed to fund 60% of the project and Arkansas the rest 40%. The multiple delays led to the completion of the project in 1973.

Hernando de Soto Bridge is named after the 16th-century Spanish explorer who discovered the stretch of Mississippi Reiver and is said to have died South of Memphis.

What Else can you Do here Hernando de Soto Bridge?

While you’re here, why not drive across the bridge and discover the iconic landmarks nearby? Memphis is a city catered to those who love music and history. The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is a tribute to the music transformation the city has witnessed due to challenging times

A trip to the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum highlights the plantation songs, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and soul music genres. The Sun Studios is a must-visit attraction if you’re a fan of Johnny Crash and Jerry Lee Lewis. This is also the studio where Elvis Presley started his magical music journey.

If you want to learn more about the King of Rock, head to Elvis Presley’s Memphis. This 200,000-square-foot complex is located in Graceland and features museums and exhibits with his records, memorabilia, costumes, and more.

Beale Street is the ideal place to end your night if you’re still in the mood to explore. With nightclubs that groove to blues, rock, and soul music until 3 am, Beale Street always has a great vibe.

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