River Gorge Explorer

River Gorge Explorer

Travel swiftly and smoothly downstream from the Chattanooga Pier into the scenic Tennessee River Gorge aboard this high-tech vessel.

Each two-hour excursion is guided by an Aquarium naturalist who brings local history to life while helping you spot wildlife. Relax in the climate-controlled cabin and soak in the scenery from the observation deck.


William's Island: Family Adventure Cruises
March 30 - April 12 at 12:30 pm

The Williams Island Family Adventure Cruise takes passengers to "the Gateway to the Gorge." During each 90-minute adventure, the young and young at heart will discover Native American and Civil War history and gain insights into the wildlife that call this wooded island home. Time will be spent on each trip observing an osprey nest and heron rookery. Your naturalist guide helps locate other animals and leads an on-board scavenger hunt. 

These cruises will depart daily from the Chattanooga Pier. Special Spring Break pricing will be:

   $20/member (3yrs and up)
   $23/non-member (3yrs & up)
   $18/children (under 3)

Buy Tickets Now

Click here for the River Gorge Explorer Schedule

Ticket Prices:

  Adult Child (3-12) Under 3  
River Gorge Explorer $32 $24.50 $18 Buy Online
All children under 3 riding the River Gorge Explorer will be charged $18. They are counted as a passenger via Coast Guard regulations.

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. The 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 will be asked to transfer to a cabin chair whenever possible.

Please call 423-265-0698 for advance reservations. The reservations department is open Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:45 pm. Please note cruises are subject to cancellation due to circumstances beyond our control (river conditions, weather, etc.). Whenever possible those holding advance reservations will be given one day’s notice of schedule changes. 

Locating the River Gorge Explorer is easy!  Boarding Basics:

  1. From either the Tennessee Aquarium or IMAX 3D Theater, simply walk toward the Tennessee River on Chestnut Street.
  2. Turn left on Riverfront Parkway and continue to the Chattanooga Pier, located at the corner of Riverfront Parkway and Power Alley.  *If you need additional tickets, you may purchase them on the Chattanooga Pier at the ticketing kiosk.
  3. Proceed under the arch displaying the nautical flags and continue down the ramp to board the River Gorge Explorer.

River Gorge Explorer Water Quality Monitoring
The Tennessee Aquarium monitors the health of the Tennessee River with the help of a sonde – a device that records characteristics of the water at regular intervals. Learn more about the Tennessee River water quality results and why it matters to all of us.

Tour Highlights and Civil War History
Join us aboard the River Gorge Explorer and experience “Tennessee's Grand Canyon” as it was meant to be seen - from the water.

About the Tennessee River Gorge
The Tennessee River Gorge winds along 26 miles of the Tennessee River, and contains over 27,000 acres of protected land.  It is the perfect setting for taking beautiful photos from the deck of your Chattanooga riverboat cruise.

Ticket Information & Sales
Order your tickets online anytime for the Aquarium, IMAX Theater and River Gorge Explorer and you can pick them up at the will-call window.

Charter a Chattanooga Cruise
Whether it's a special occasion with family and friends, or a relaxing company cruise, the River Gorge Explorer can be chartered for all kinds of events making it both flexible and fun!

The Tennessee Aquarium gratefully acknowledges these official sponsors who help make learning fun aboard the River Gorge Explorer:

First Tennessee logo

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Your gifts support educational programs as well as conservation and research efforts in the region.

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The Tennessee Aquarium provides an unforgettable learning experience for children at all grade levels.

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Calendar of Events

We offers a variety of special events each month. Explore this calendar for fun outings that match your family's interests and age ranges.

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The huge, six-story screen at the IMAX 3D Theater puts YOU in the action. Travel to undersea reefs filled with colorful creatures, or visit exotic locations from around the world.

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