Things to Do and See


Welcome to Ijams Nature Center! Ijams encourages stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people to appreciate and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences.

Throughout the year, the are endless opportunities to explore the Ijams’ trails and naturals areas on your own to discover the wonders of nature around you.

Ijams’ educational team also offers hundreds of naturalist-led programs ranging from Wildflower Walks, Bat Nights and Owl Prowls onsite as well as trips to other locations to experience the flora and fauna of these special sites. For example, Ijams’ series of other offsite Walk-Abouts incorporate trips to William Hastie Natural Area, Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge and more. For more information, check out our Programs section and Events Calendar for upcoming opportunities.

With hundreds of programs and events, a beautiful river boardwalk, breathtaking scenery on 12+ miles of trails, and recreational opportunities from paddling, climbing and Navitat’s Canopy Adventure to swimming, biking and hiking, this nonprofit nature center just three miles from downtown Knoxville has something for everyone. Following are just a few highlights you won’t want to miss!

Visitor Center

Stop by Ijams Nature Center’s Visitor Center to buy a trail map so you can fully explore trails and special locations, grab a snack or learn more about events and programs such as the free weekend Creature Features, where you can learn about one of Ijams’ animal ambassadors! Jo’s Grove, Alice’s Greenhouse and trailheads all are nearby.  The Visitor Center features restrooms, rotating artwork shows, animal exhibits and an amazing gift shop featuring the work of local artisans as well as logo wear.

Mead’s Quarry

Rent a  canoe, kayak or SUP (stand up-paddle-board) from River Sports Outfitters, fish, go for a swim or explore the old lime kilns and trails such as Tharp Trace and Pink Marble Trail! This post-industrial natural area offers gorgeous views, and you might catch a glimpse of freshwater jellyfish in the lake in
July! (Don’t worry, these tiny creatures don’t sting!)

Jo’s Grove

This fun nature playscape is designed just for children. Kids can imagine, explore, and find whimsy and merriment in this special place where they can touch the earth and be transformed by it. Ijams’ annual fairy house and gnome home competition is held here.

The Keyhole at Historic Ross Marble

Images will linger in your mind long after you leave this amazing stone structure located on the Ross Marble Quarry Loop. You’ll find stunning views of what local’s call God’s Chair from the Rock Bridge above. Ross Marble Quarry is now listed on the National Register for Historic Places for its part in the history of the nation’s Tennessee Marble industry.

Home Site

The 20 acres HP and Alice Ijams purchased in 1910 to raise their family grew to become a showplace for cultivated gardens in the middle of a natural area and bird sanctuary. Their homestead is the birthplace of Ijams Nature Center. Stroll along the myriad trails to see terraced gardens featuring box woods planted by the Ijams family, ponds, rock gardens and more. It’s also the perfect place for an outdoor special event or wedding!

River Boardwalk

Located barely a mile downstream from the headwaters of the Tennessee River, this extensive boardwalk has long been a visitor favorite. Look for elegant great blue herons and other shoreline birds from this beautiful vantage point.

Hayworth Hollow

Near the Keyhole at Ross Marble, this short yet truly memorable trail takes you along the quarry gorge’s moss-covered boulders to a stunning view of sheer rock walls towering hundreds of feet above. This essential spot evokes the vastness of the Big South Fork, yet is so close to downtown that it defies the senses.