This certainly isn't the type of weather that springs to mind if someone were to say, "Let's go for a boat ride." But if you haven't been in the Tennessee River Gorge during winter, then you might be surprised by what you can see. Right now is prime time to cruise into Tennessee’s Grand Canyon for an unobstructed view of the rocky mountain faces.
Passengers aboard the River Gorge Explorer can now see farther into the wooded slopes allowing for even more animal sightings. According to Kevin Calhoon, the Tennessee Aquarium's assistant curator of forests, several bird species are visiting right now that are rarely seen in the warmer months. Most notably, there are now three species of gull that choose to hang out in the relatively warm climate around Chattanooga.
- Ring-billed gull
- Bonaparte's gull
- Herring gull
(Some have been tracked as regular migrants from the Great Lakes.)
Other winter bird species seen in the Gorge are:
- common loon
- pied-billed grebe
- double-crested cormorant
- lesser scaup
- American coot
Winter can also provide spectacular scenery if snow coats the landscape with white or ice glistens in the trees. While we'll have to wait and see, it's possible that Chattanooga could receive some accumulating snowfall beginning Thursday and lasting into early Friday. If that's the case, then grab your camera gear and head to the Chattanooga Pier for a weekend cruise aboard the Explorer. Snowy scenes from the water's edge to the mountain tops are rare photo opportunities.Fear not fair-weather friends, the Explorer’s cabin will be toasty warm inside whenever it’s cold outside.
For excursion times and ticket information: http://www.tnaqua.org/RiverGorgeExplorer/BoatSchedule.aspx