Dates Of Stay: June 6 – 10, 2016
Let’s be honest: Graceland is not in the best part of Memphis. When Elvis bought the place it was out in the middle of nowhere, but urban sprawl, eyesores, and blight have caught up to the estate. It reminds me a lot of Wayne Newton’s house, Casa De Shenandoah, in Las Vegas. To get to Wayne’s house there’s a burger shack, gas station, strip club, pawnshop, and the entry gates. Planes fly over every four to five minutes. It’s no wonder that Wayne doesn’t live there anymore, and if Elvis were still alive, it’s likely he would no longer live at Graceland either.
Graceland RV park is on the opposite side of Elvis Presley Boulevard from the home, directly behind the expansive parking lot and the tourist mall, where you can get a bite to eat, buy merch, watch a film, go to the car museum, and catch a shuttle to the mansion.
When I told a local I was staying at the Graceland RV park, he cautioned, “be careful.” Once again, poor and mostly Black was interpreted as treacherous. I did not feel unsafe at all. It was sad to see so many empty storefronts, beaten up and broken down cars, and people walking along the road in 98-degree heat, but it wasn’t exactly Gangland USA.
Given the less than vibrant and thriving neighborhood, Elvis Presley Enterprises knows it has an image problem at Graceland. There is a full-time, around the clock security guard posted at the entry gates of the RV park, and passes are required for automobiles. A $10 each way shuttle will drive you at night from the RV park to Beale Street, which is a fair distance away.
Given that distance, the only real reason to stay at the Graceland RV park is if you are going to spend a lot of time at Graceland. Having toured the estate the last time I was in Memphis, I felt I was away from Memphis’s other star attractions by staying there. But, it has been my experience in large cities that RV parks, by necessity, are at least 15 to 20 minutes’ drive from a downtown core.
I write this review in the summer of 2016, and I bet Graceland RV park is about to go through a drastic change. Heartbreak Hotel, a decaying, barely renovated old motel, is currently adjacent to the RV park. They have a sad little four-stool bar and a restaurant that serves chicken fingers and nachos. But across Elvis Presley Boulevard, a new hotel and convention space is under construction by EPE. It is rumored that the Heartbreak Hotel will be demolished and the RV park will be expanded when the new hotel is completed.
In the present, I found the grounds to be completely serviceable, especially for $36 per night. There is a pool:
And propane available for purchase on site:
The park could use a few more trees; all of the sites along the chain-link fence adjacent to the parking lot are in the brutal sun all day long.
If you’re planning to visit Graceland, the RV park is very convenient. Even if you’re not, it’s a decent bargain and the shuttle to Beale Street is useful.