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Sandhill Crane Kayak Tour at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge

The best winter kayak tour in the state of Tennessee running November through the last weekend in February to see and hear all of the calls and dances of the wintering sandhill cranes. Witness the cranes in their warmer winter environment as they escape the brutal cold of Alaska and Northern Canada. The shallow warm waters of the Tennessee River around Hiwassee Island provide excellent overwintering and feeding areas for the cranes. Use our binoculars and enjoy the sights and sound of the sandhill cranes on this eco kayak tour. Thousands or birds can be seen flying above and landing on the water surrounding the island. 
This is a wildlife experience like none other in Tennessee. It is like paddling through Jurassic Park. Thousands of five foot tall 14 pound birds hanging out on the waters edge around the island flapping there wings and dancing. These social birds calls can be heard from over 2 miles away.  These birds have come back from the brink of extinction from unregulated over hunting and are thriving on this overwinter adventure just outside Chattanooga, Tennessee.

No kayaking experience needed, this is a beginner friendly trip.

Our winter neoprene paddle mittens (poagies), waterproof jacket, and drip skirt will keep you nice and warm out on the water. We also provide hot chocolate or apple cider after your kayak adventure ends. 


This trip is a fun way to meet new friends or get your old friends off of the couch to try something new.

The Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival is held on January 13-14, 2024. This is a great time to join us on a kayak tour as there will be plenty of free activities after your kayak tour for you to participate in. The festival runs from 8 am to 4 pm daily.

Peak season for Sandhill Cranes is between the 3rd week in December to the 2nd week in February.  Nov and December is the peak season for viewing the American White Pelicans. 
Start or track your life list, the total bird list you have seen in your life, and help citizen science count bird populations in Tennessee after our tours with the eBird website and app. 
At the end of your trip and warm up with a complementary hot chocolate or cider. 


Equipment Provided:





Group throw-bag 

Group towline

Group first aid kit

Kayak light


Poagies Neoprene Mittens


Waterproof Birding Id Cards

Additional Gear for Fall and Winter:

Neoprene kayaking mittens AKA Poagies

Drip protection to keep your legs dry



Personal Gear:

Fall and Winter:
Short Sleeve Synthetic T-shirt under-layer
Long Sleeve synthetic shirt over the T-shirt.
Bring a synthetic jacket as temperature can change frequently and it is nice to have a layer you can add if the temps cool off. 
Tennis Shoes or River Sandals with a back strap like Teva, Chacos, Keens with a pair of synthetic or wool socks. 
1-liter water bottle

Trip Duration:3 hours

All trips are on Eastern Time


Fitness Level:

All abilities



$79 per guest

Arrive 10 min before your trip time to give yourself time to sign the waiver and get checked in with your guide. 

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