The Tennessee River Gorge

About 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.

More than 30 years ago a conversation among friends literally began a movement to protect land for future generations. Their vision was to create a land trust dedicated to preserving the natural beauty along the steep walls of the Tennessee River downstream from Chattanooga. That mission officially began when the Tennessee River Gorge Trust was founded in 1981, and became incorporated in 1986.

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

Vast stretches of riparian habitat, or vegetation zone along the river, remain within the Gorge. These biologically important zones are rapidly diminishing throughout the United States. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that less than one third of the 100 million acres of riparian habitat once found in the United States remains today. This habitat not only helps preserve water quality in the area, it also provides the food and shelter for migratory and native birds and other wildlife.