The miles and miles of paddle-ready water accessible within minutes of downtown is one of the reasons National Geographic Adventure named Chattanooga one of the “Best Adventure Towns in the U.S. to Live and Play.” And there’s no need to own your own watercraft if you’re looking to paddle or cruise on the Tennessee River, Chickamauga Lake, and local tributaries. In Chattanooga, rentals are easy to come by.
L2 Outside rents BOTE paddle boards to visitors and locals ready to take on a self-guided tour of Maclellan Island, the Hunter Museum bluffs, and the Walnut Street Bridge while watching for wildlife like river otters and blue herons. The rental includes a life vest with a whistle, and you’ll want to dress to get wet – even if you don’t fall off, you’re bound to catch a splash from a paddle. Staff will help carry the equipment to the river, and paddle boards go in the water just under the Market Street Bridge. L2 Outside also rents single kayaks and tandem kayaks. For those who prefer a guide, sunset tours of the Tennessee River are offered on Friday and Saturday nights from April through October. Access the storefront at 131 River Street by parking in Coolidge Park or Renaissance Park.
Perhaps Chattanooga’s most tech-forward watersport, renting the Lift eFoil Surfboard will have you traveling above the water at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. A board that operates by bluetooth remote, this rental includes a guide and a 90-minute training session. Launched in July 2018, Adventure Sports Innovation also offers experiences in virtual reality, electric skateboards, 3-scooters, and electric bikes, and the company sells most of the products it rents at the storefront at 191 River Street in North Chattanooga. The minimum age for a rental of the Lift eFoil Surfboard is 16 years old.
Chickamauga Lake Boat Rentals
With 36,240 surface acres of water, the Chickamauga Reservoir is one of the most popular places for sport fishing and boating in the Scenic City. Created when the Tennessee Valley Authority completed construction of the Chickamauga Dam in 1940, it is also known as Chickamauga Lake, and its near-800 miles of shoreline includes marinas for boat docking, storage, rentals, and sales. The most popular rental at Lakeshore Marina is the 30-foot double decker pontoon boat with a slide, which can fit up to 15 people. Lakeshore Marina also offers full and half-day rentals of a 20-foot Harris Floteboat Pontoon; 6-person and 10-person Open Bow boats for tubing, wakeboarding, and skiing; and 2-person jet skis. Also on Chickamauga Lake, Erwin Boat Rentals offers the Harris Cruiser 23-foot and 25-foot Luxury Tri-Toon, and Harbor Lights Marina, located in Soddy-Daisy, has a double decker pontoon that is pet-friendly. If you’re looking for a little guidance in your quest for largemouth bass or catfish, Scenic City Fishing Charters will take you out on the water with a guide. In late winter and early spring, they’ll also take you out looking for crappie, but be prepared for advanced techniques and long-line trolling.
Charlie Eich was first inspired to open River Drifters while riding his motorcycle on scenic Suck Creek Road. Lifelong restaurateurs, he and wife Renee had just lost their Cheeburger Cheeburger when the historic building collapsed. Charlie had a captain’s license from sea school in La Batre, Alabama, and when he saw a rental space available on the Tennessee River, he knew what would come next. Part restaurant and bar, part hourly or half-day rental facility for paddle boards and kayaks, River Drifters is best known for its burgers, paninis, salads, and beers. Another plus: Parking is free. Guests tend to say that they came for the time on the water, then stayed for the food.
Founded in 1987 by two outdoor enthusiasts, Rock/Creek has six locations between downtown Chattanooga, Cleveland, East Brainerd, and the Ocoee River in Benton, Tennessee. The company sells outdoor apparel and gear, but at the Riverside Drive location near Coolidge Park, the focus is also on watersport rentals for time on the Tennessee River. Rock/Creek offers inflatable, beginner-friendly paddle boards, sit-on-top kayaks, and tandem kayaks. For fishermen, Rock/Creek rents the Jackson Bite Angler, which was made specifically for lakes and slow-moving streams and includes cup holders and fishing rod holders. Guests pick up their rentals at the storefront near Coolidge Park and will need to transport the watercraft to an access point independently. One dollar from every booking at Rock/Creek Adventures is donated to a nonprofit partner that participates in conservation efforts and expands outdoor opportunities to underserved communities in the Chattanooga area.