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“Nice, interesting comfortable, but don't expect excitement”

River Gorge Explorer
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Travel swiftly and smoothly downstream from the Chattanooga Pier into the scenic Tennessee River Gorge aboard this high-tech vessel. Experience “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon” aboard the River Gorge Explorer. Enjoy the view from the topside observation deck during daily two-hour cruises into the Gorge. Each 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 beautiful scenery from the observation deck.
Huntsville, Alabama
Level Contributor
159 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
“Nice, interesting comfortable, but don't expect excitement”
Reviewed January 5, 2013

My husband and I actually enjoyed this trip. It gave us an opportunity to see the river up close and gave us something of an historical perspective of the area while being pleasant, interesting and relaxing. We were there in November so it was just a little cool, but not bad, on deck, while being very comfortable inside.

We were a bit disappointed in the 'tour' part of the trip. The 'naturalist' who functions as a kind of tour guide, needs to reconsider the way she presents the tour. There are TV screens for your viewing but the images scroll randomly and aren't connected to what she is describing on the tour. If she controlled the images on the screen (I believe it''s just a powerpoint slideshow) to sync with her presentation and if she scanned her visual aids to the slideshow it would be a much more cohesive and thereby interesting tour. Another problem, is that she doesn't address the scenery and history on both sides of the boat going and coming. Since there is a big obstruction in the middle and to the back, if you are in the back HALF of the boat you can't see anything relating to about half of what she talks about. Since she doesn't repeat anything on the return, those who were seated in the back are left feeling like they missed half of the tour. This can lead to disappointment and won't hold your attention for long. Both in the row in front of us and in the row behind us several people took a nap through most of the trip

Don't get me wrong, the boat is very pleasant and the pilot does his best to make it fun. While I don't think there is enough of interest here to make this trip an "excellent" experience, I do think that if you were sitting in the front half of the boat and/or if the presenters were better organized with their presentation that this trip could move from average to very good.

So, manage your expectations, this isn't a river in Belize or Alaska but it is interesting in its own way, and make sure you sit in the front half of the boat so that you can get the most out of the tour and relax and enjoy the history and the scenery.

Visited November 2012
1 Thank LifesaBanquet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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223 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
14 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Not much of a "thrill" as advertised”
Reviewed November 27, 2012

The concept of this trip is neat, but did not live up to my expectations. I was hoping for the "thrill" ride, but fell asleep instead. There were some spots where we traveled "high speeds", but most of the trip was driven at slow speeds. This combined with the narration focused on birds and civil war history made the trip very boring. The big "thrill" seemed to be when the boat would abruptly stop at high speeds, causing the boat to dive into the water and make a big splash. It was neat the first time, but not much of a thrill after that.

It was too cold for us to enjoy the experience on deck during the slow cruising. Best to go when it is warmer out.

OK boat ride if you have the right expectations.

Visited November 2012
1 Thank lmoo1698
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Whitby, Canada
Level Contributor
302 reviews
184 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 165 helpful votes
“Interesting, but not worth the price”
Reviewed November 15, 2012

Took this cruise as part of a day visit to the Chattnooga Aquarium. Was very disappointed. The boat (jet boat) is new, modern and clean. Can go quite fast and stop very quickly, with a big splash, but since for safety reasons you have to be inside, sitting, you don't get to see much of this except on their video they show. A fast 30 minute trip up the river passes old and new industrial sites (not much to see), then a 30 minute slow cruise (at which time you can go outside if you wish) past some very nice river front homes, some very poor river front homes and trees, all with commentary on the geology and geography of the area, then the reverse trip back to the pier. Can not recommend this attraction - Chattanooga has a lot more better attractions you can use your time to visit.

Visited November 2012
2 Thank rbthodge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
15 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Fun trip”
Reviewed October 6, 2012 via mobile

Great way to see more of the area - specially in less than ideal weather. Comfortable climate controlled boat and lively and informative narration.

1 Thank Maggie10Cartersville
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sacramento, CA
Level Contributor
40 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Better depending on what time of year”
Reviewed October 1, 2012

The cruise is great, but it is definitely better in the fall when the weather is nicer and the fall foliage is occurring. Best enjoyed while outside on the deck as opposed to inside the boat. The best part is when the captain "slams on the brakes"- it's a pretty cool sensation. One drawback is that I thought the sunset cruise, which takes 1 hour longer, would go farther down the gorge, but it just does the same distance at a slower pace. The regular cruise is just as good.

Visited September 2012
1 Thank Geography_King
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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