A cruise through the Tennessee River Gorge offers a closer perspective on its geography and wildlife any time of the year. But in mid to late October, the view becomes spectacular as Mother Nature splashes surrounding mountains in autumn's hues.
The Tennessee Aquarium is again offering its River Gorgeous color cruises aboard the River Gorge Explorer as well as two themed cruises. The Southern Belle riverboat's Fall Foliage cruises are under way and will continue through Nov. 18. Both are three-hour cruises.
The Aquarium's River Gorge Explorer cruises will be offered twice each Sunday beginning Oct. 22 through Nov. 5. These color cruises will depart at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Morning cruises on the River Gorge Explorer depart from Chattanooga Pier, with passengers returning to Chattanooga by bus at the trip's conclusion. Afternoon cruises begin with a charter bus ride from Chattanooga to Hale's Bar Marina with passengers cruising back to Chattanooga.
Tickets for adults and children are $50 and $40 for members or $60 and $50 for nonmembers. Because of the popularity of fall color cruises, advance registration is strongly recommended.
"I have seen the canyon just in the most incredibly fiery colors of autumn that you can imagine," says Capt. Pete Hosemann, who has piloted vessels for about 40 years. "I've seen some pretty amazing and glorious days. I think we're going to have some nice foliage, and the canyon offers the greatest variation in coloration that you can find in this region."
The two special theme cruises are scheduled 1 p.m. on Oct. 29 and Nov 5. On Oct. 29, guests can learn more from a member of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust about efforts to preserve the gorge. On Nov. 5, historian Jim Ogden will provide insights into the role the gorge and surrounding landscape played during the Civil War.
To book a color cruise on the River Gorge Explorer: www.tnaqua.org
The Southern Belle's color cruises are offered at noon on weekdays, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays, and varying times on Sundays in October. The majority of November's cruises are scheduled at noon.
Tickets are $40.90 for ages 13 and older, $20.90 for ages 3 to 12.
To book a cruise or for more information: chatta noogariverboat.com/sea sonal-cruises.