Buy combo ticket

Best Chttanooga Discount

Did you know you can save 15% by purchasing the Aquarium, IMAX and River Gorge Explorer combo ticket? The more you do, the more you save!


Animal Encounters

Fun Animal Encounters

From a hairy tarantula to a talking African gray parrot, you never know what you’ll bump into in Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari at the Tennessee Aquarium!

River Gorge Explorer

About the Tennessee River Gorge

About the Tennessee River Gorge Trust

Just over 25 years ago a conversation among friends around a coffee table literally began a movement to protect land for future generations. Their vision was to create a land trust dedicated to preserving the natural beauty along the steep walls of the Tennessee River downstream from Chattanooga. That mission officially began when the Tennessee River Gorge Trust was founded in 1981, and became incorporated in 1986.

The Tennessee River Gorge winds along 26 miles of the Tennessee River, and contains over 27,000 acres of land. Often referred to as “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon”, the Gorge is the fourth largest river canyon east of the Mississippi.  Since 1981, the Tennessee River Gorge Trust has protected over 16,000 acres within the Gorge and established programs to steward the land and its resources – historical and natural.

The geographic location and terrain of the Tennessee River Gorge create a unique set of land forms and micro-climates. The resulting habitats support more than 1,000 varieties of plants, ferns, trees and flowers, as well as an amazing array of wildlife species including:

  • 184 species of birds
  • 63 species of mammals
  • 193 species of butterflies

Vast stretches of riparian habitat, or vegetation zone along the river, remain within the Gorge. These biologically important zones are rapidly diminishing throughout the United States. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that less than one third of the 100 million acres of riparian habitat once found in the United States remains today. This habitat not only helps preserve water quality in the area, it also provides the food and shelter for migratory and native birds and other wildlife.

Visitors to the Tennessee Aquarium have been contributing to the Tennessee River Gorge Trust - one coin at a time - since 1996.  A funnel-shaped coin drop located near the Tennessee River gallery has collected more than $236,000 dollars, helping to preserve over 364 acres within the Gorge. The Tennessee Aquarium has also been partnering with the Tennessee River Gorge Trust for over 15 years providing environmental education programs and special events at the Aquarium and in the Gorge.  

The Tennessee River Gorge Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Go to to learn more about the Trust’s land protection and educational programs.