The entire course of the Gordon River is an uninhabited wilderness area. The differentiation between the Upper Gordon River catchment and the Lower Gordon River was made by what were considered impassable gorges - known as the Gordon Splits. Olegas Truchanas was one who was able to travel through these.
Additional dams were proposed for the lower part of the river but the plans were dropped due to changing public opinion. In particular, the Franklin Dam was proposed just downstream of the junction with the Franklin River, and would have flooded much of both rivers. It was a major political and environmental issue in the 1980s.
The lower part of the Gordon River is part of the World Heritage area and contains a cold-climate rainforest and rare trees. As with many rivers in western Tasmania, the water is fresh and drinkable, but has the colour of weak tea due to the absorption of tannin from button grass growing in the catchment area.
Boat excursions to the lower Gordon River from Macquarie Harbour are popular with tourists in Strahan. Seaplane flights depart Strahan during the warmer months and include an out landing on the Gordon River (usually a duration of one hour).