Tennessee Aquarium River Gorge Explorer


Cruise into a natural wonder aboard the Aquarium's sleek new boat, the River Gorge Explorer. This 70-passenger catamaran, the first of its kind in the Southeast, transports guests downstream into  “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon,”, the Tennessee River Gorge.  This scenic waterway is home to a remarkable array of plants and animals. An Aquarium naturalist leads each excursion and points out wildlife and historic points of interest along the way.

Four water jets propel this hydrofoil-assisted vessel smoothly and swiftly downstream. Angled seating allows each guest to relax in the climate-controlled cabin and enjoy the scenic beauty and wildlife through oversized windows. Climb aboard the River Gorge Explorer and experience 'Tennessee's Grand Canyon' as it was meant to be seen - from the water.

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Latitude: 35.056594 Longitude: -85.3132582 Elevation: 641 ft
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Meredith Lewallen

Areas of Service and Expertise

The Tennessee Aquarium River Gorge Explorer takes guided eco-tours down into the Tennessee River Gorge.  The Tennessee River Gorge winds along 26 miles of the Tennessee River, and contains over 27,000 acres of land. Often referred to as “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon”, the Gorge is the fourth largest river canyon east of the Mississippi.  Since 1981, the Tennessee River Gorge Trust has protected over 16,000 acres within the Gorge and established programs to steward the land and its resources – historical and natural.

The geographic location and terrain of the Tennessee River Gorge create a unique set of land forms and micro-climates. The resulting habitats support more than 1,000 varieties of plants, ferns, trees and flowers, as well as an amazing array of wildlife species including:

  • 184 species of birds
  • 63 species of mammals
  • 193 species of butterflies


Types of Experiences and Trips Provided

An Aquarium naturalist leads each excursion and points out wildlife and historic points of interest along the way.  Cruises take 2 hours. Please allow 10 minutes for loading and disembarking. The boat boards at the Chattanooga Riverboat Pier - two blocks from the Tennessee Aquarium. Refreshments & restrooms are available on the boat.

ADA Accessibility Notes

The River Gorge Explorer is handicap accessible, however only two wheelchairs or small motorized chairs are allowed aboard each trip due to limited cabin space. Passengers with large motorized chairs or scooters are asked to transfer to a manual wheelchair located at the Chattanooga Riverboat Pier prior to boarding or transfer to a cabin chair.

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