Tennessee River Blueway
The Tennessee River Blueway is a 50-mile (80 km) section of the Tennessee River that flows between the Chickamauga Dam and the Nickajack Dam and through downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee and the Tennessee River Gorge. The city of Chattanooga and the Tennessee River Gorge Trust along with other agencies have designated the section of river as a blueway for a canoe and kayak paddlers to travel and enjoy. Along the way, travelers will find primitive camping areas next to the river, a vibrant mix of museums, restaurants, activities, entertainment and natural attractions. From there, the Blueway meanders its way to quieter places like Williams Island State Archaeological Park. Williams Island divides the river channel with a 450-acre (1.8 km2) tract of land inhabited only by wildlife. From about 1000 to 1650, this area was home to several Native American tribes. It is now managed by the Tennessee River Gorge Trust and has become a haven for birders and naturalists, as well as archaeologists. Then next of course is the 26-mile (42 km) stretch of the awesome Tennessee River Gorge, a steep canyon formed by the Tennessee River. The scenic terrain of the Tennessee River Gorge creates a unique diversity of land forms. The land provides habitats for more than a thousand varieties of plants, ferns, trees, grasses and flowers as well as a rich wildlife population. Many of these are rare or endangered species such as the mountain skullcap and birds like the osprey and bald eagle. Dozens of archaeological sites bear evidence of man's presence in the Gorge for at least 10,000 years. Farther down the Gorge is a secluded spot where you can see Nickajack Cave from the water. Tennessee Valley Authority biologists monitor its bat population and encourage the public to “bat watch.” There is no cave access, but canoeists and kayakers enjoy drifting by at twilight with binoculars in hand to observe the comings and goings of these small but busy nocturnal creatures. There are many camping options and points of interest along the blueway. Please check the map for more useful details.
Map of the Tennessee River Blueway
- Tennessee River Gorge Trust Website
- Tennessee Valley Authority Website
- Tennessee River Blueway Website
- Canoeing the Tennessee River Blueway
- City of Chattanooga Website