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Did you know you can save 15% by purchasing the Aquarium, IMAX and River Gorge Explorer combo ticket? The more you do, the more you save!



Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari

Ranger Rick’s Backyard Safari is bringing together kids, nature and fun. Come with a sense of adventure. Leave inspired to care for the wildlife in your own backyard!


Chattanooga Riverboat Cruise | River Gorge Explorer

Cruise the River Gorge

Certificate of ExcellenceCruise into a natural wonder aboard the Aquarium's 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.

>> Click here for the River Gorge Explorer Schedule

Daily March 22 through April 17 @ 12:30 p.m.

Add some excitement to your family's Spring Break aboard the River Gorge Explorer! 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 March 22 to April 17 from the Chattanooga Pier. Special Spring Break pricing will be offered for these cruises: $20/per person (age 3 and up), $18/per person under age 3.

Ticket Prices:

Adult $29 / Child $21.50 (3 -12) / Toddler $18        Buy tickets now

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 why it matters to all of us.

A River View of Civil War History
Notable military points exist between Downtown Chattanooga and historic Pot Point. Tennessee Aquarium naturalists highlight strategic locations for passengers aboard the Tennessee Aquarium River Gorge Explorer.

Tour Highlights and Descriptions
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!

Sponsored by:

Tennessee American Water Company         First Tennessee Bank

Certified by the Passenger Vessel Association's Green Waters Program