Go south to see the autumn leaves Foliage: Traveling by steam train or riverboat, visitors can watch as the trees of Tennessee put on their annual color show.

Travel Q&A

September 14, 1997|By SUN-SENTINEL

I seem to remember that Chattanooga, Tenn., has fall color cruises on a steamboat.

Do you have any information on this?

Yes, riverboat trips run over two weekends, and Chattanooga, famous for its choo-choo, also has steam-train excursions designed for leaf-watching.

This fall's trips coincide with what is usually the peak color time in southeastern Tennessee, mid- to late October.

The annual Fall Color Cruise and Folk Festival is so popular that reservations should be made well in advance. The event is ranked among the top 20 annual events in the southeastern United States.

The Southern Belle steamship, departing from Ross Landing in downtown Chattanooga, will cruise the Grand Canyon of the Tennessee River downstream some 30 miles in 4 1/2 hours through mountain scenery to a festival at Shellmound Recreation Area at Nickajack Dam near Jasper, Tenn. Passengers then spend as much time as they wish at the festival, which is organized by the Alhambra Shrine and offers food, entertainment, and arts and crafts. Buses will then return them to their cars. Or, visitors can leave their cars at Ross Landing, take a bus to the festival and then return on the Southern Belle.

Dates of the Southern Belle's fall color cruises are Oct. 18-19 and Oct. 25-26. Prices are $19 for the cruise, $24 including the bus ride. For reservations, call the Chattanooga River Boat Co. at 800-766-2784.

Down the tracks

Railroad buffs might prefer to see the autumn leaves through the windows of a steam-powered train. The Tennessee Valley Railroad, an organization of volunteers, operates train excursions with vintage equipment most of the year and will run the autumn leaf specials on Oct. 11, Oct.18-19, Oct. 25-26, Nov. 1 and Nov. 8.

The train departs from its Grand Junction Depot in Chattanooga for a 3 3/4 -hour, 90-mile round trip to Trion, Ga., where it lays over for more than an hour. After riders inspect Trion's antiques shops and parks, the train heads back to Chattanooga.

Lunch is included, served in the train's dining car. The trip is priced at $59 to $72 a person, depending on seat location. Reservations should be made by calling 423-894-8028 weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The railway, said to be "the largest operating historic railroad in the South," has no connection with the famous Chattanooga Choo-Choo, but on some of its scheduled sightseeing rides, passengers can board at the Choo-Choo, a complex that includes the restored turn-of-the-century railroad station itself, now used as a restaurant and as a lobby for the Holiday Inn behind it.

For more information concerning hotels, restaurants and shopping, call the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-322-3344.

Pub Date: 9/14/97

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