Tennessee River Gorge and Blueway

The Tennessee River Gorge, nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Tennessee, is one of the most unique natural treasures in the Southeast. Spanning 27,000-acres, the gorge was carved through the Cumberland Mountains by the Tennessee River. It is the only large river canyon bordering a mid-size city and is the 4th largest river canyon east of the Mississippi. Designated as a National Scenic River Trail in 2002, the Tennessee River Blueway flows through Chattanooga and the Tennessee River Gorge for 46 miles, from Chickamauga to Nickajack Dam. 

The Blueway’s unique paddling experience offers kayakers, canoeists, and paddleboarders the opportunity to visit wildlife preserves and camp primitively on public lands or stay in downtown hotels and take advantage of urban amenities. The Tennessee River flows through the heart of downtown Chattanooga’s thriving entertainment district and then continues through the high, forested walls of the river gorge. There, towering bluffs and protected forests provide miles of spectacular paddling.

When the Tennessee River widens into Nickajack Lake, it reveals its enormous scope before dropping Blueway paddlers off at the headwaters of Nickajack Dam. The scenic terrain of the Tennessee River Gorge creates a unique diversity of landforms, thousands of varieties of plants, grasses and wildflowers and a rich wildlife population. There are many ways to access wildlife viewing in the gorge: mountain biking Raccoon Mountain, paddling the Tennessee River Blueway or even climbing at the Tennessee Wall. The most accessible way to get a good overview is to hike the Pot Point Nature Trail, a 3.5-mile loop that begins at the Tennessee River Gorge Trust’s Pot Point Cabin at the river’s edge and climbs the side of the Cumberland Plateau to nearly 1,000 feet.



Hours and Cost

Open Daily: Sunrise to Sunset

Cost: Free

Pet Friendly

Yes, on a leash


Outdoor Chattanooga
200 River St.
Chattanooga, TN 37405

Tennessee River Gorge Trust
1214 Dartmouth St.
Chattanooga, TN 37405


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