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Almost immediately after we relocated to Chattanooga, Tennessee from metropolitan Atlanta, we were stricken by the beauty of the Tennessee River Gorge. Known as scenic city, one of the most striking features in the Chattanooga area is the 26 mile canyon formed by the Tennessee River. It is the fourth largest river gorge in the Eastern United States, as it cuts through the Cumberland Plateau, winding its way into Alabama from Tennesse. At certain points as the river bends its way through the Tennessee Valley, spectators can see endangered species including the American Bald Eagle in one of their nests along the river. Other wildlife found in the area include osprey, beaver, raccoon, Great Blue Heron, turkey, and white tailed deer.

For those who wish to spend a little extended time in the gorge, hiking trails and cabins are available for rent. The stretch of the river known as the Tennessee River Blueway runs through Chattanooga from the Chickamauga Dam, about 50 miles down river to the Nickajack Dam, and is perfect for canoeing or boat cruising featuring spectacular scenery. As you cruise through the gorge, you are also likely to see the commercial Riverboat docked at Ross’ Landing in Chattanooga, the Southern Belle, and you can hear the boat’s calliope singing through the gorge and wave to the tourist, as well as passengers on the many luxury yachts that cruise the waterway.

The high season for cruising the gorge is from early Spring through mid to late Fall when the colorful foliage of the Appalachian mountain foothills are at their peak. I can’t think of a more relaxing way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon than enjoying the wonder of nature on a tranquil cruise through one of the greatest natural treasures of the South, the magnificent Tennessee River gorge.

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