The Tennessee River Gorge is by far the largest natural area near Chattanooga, with over 42 square miles in the gorge and twenty-six of them protected by the Tennessee River Gorge Trust. From downtown Chattanooga the Tennessee River turns north around Moccasin Bend, passes around Williams Island, then takes a swooping turn to the west, cutting straight through Walden's Ridge and producing the fourth largest river gorge east of the Mississippi. It is a centre of not only remarkable topography but also startling biodiversity and a variety of ecosystems, one of the reasons it is an international biosphere reserve.

The gorge can be accessed in a variety of ways. Two overlooks, one on Signal Mountain (Signal Point) and the other on Raccoon Mountain, provide an accessible look into the gorge. From Signal Point and Highway 27 running up the Suck Creek Valley begins a whole trail system great for hikers of all ability levels. One hike begins at Signal Point, passes a wonderful overlook of the Middle Creek valley, crosses Middle Creek on a nice suspension bridge, then runs up the other side of the valley to Edward's Point. Another trail begins at the historic Pot Point Cabin and makes a loop, providing a look into the ecosystems at lower elevations closer to the river.

Another method to see the gorge is on the river itself via an ecocruise. Two boats visit the gorge: the Blue Moon from Blue Moon Cruises and the River Gorge Explorer from the Tennessee Aquarium. The aquarium's boat is very high tech and is capable of high speeds, while the Blue Moon offers a smaller group trip of about twelve people and a longer tour of the gorge. The aquarium's tour lasts two hours and costs $29. Blue Moon's cruise to the River Gorge (the are other trips available) lasts 3.5 hours, includes a barbecue lunch, and costs $40...

The most relaxing way to see the gorge is The Tennessee River Gorge Island Cabin. It is on 4 acres of a island inside the Gorge. On the water in shade all day. They have only one new upscale, secluded cedar cabin that offers ' SOLITUDE & RELAXATION'. Campfires, great fishing and water sports. About 10 miles from Chattanooga, Ruby Falls, Rock City, Incline Railway, Raccoon and Lookout Mountains. The cabin was 40 ft. from the river and only 3 ft.down to water. Jacuzzi bath tub, full kitchen, one queen bed, La-Z-Boy sleeper sofa, and two twin mattresses in loft. Came with Boat Dock and Canoe.