Tennessee River
Sandhill Crane Tour


Sandhill Cranes leaving the roost in early morning

Tennessee River Sandhill Crane Tour
The 2023 Tour dates will be announced
Call with you desired dates for availability

This Tour is the ultimate in Social Distancing
It is a Private Tour that just includes you or
you and a guest you invite (maximum 2 people total)
There are two 3-to-4-hour sessions (one morning / one evening) per day
Tour cost is $375.00 per session for a solo outing or
$200.00 per person per session for 2 person outings.
Each Tour Party is responsible for their travel to and from our base of operation in
Dayton Tennessee as well lodging at the Blue Water Resort & Marina (info below) and their meals.
Snacks and drinks are furnished while on the boat
Sessions will also include exploratory outings outside the refuge on the
Tennessee River and Hiwassee River that will include Landscapes, Waterscapes, Eagles, Geese,
Ducks, Loons, White Pelicans, Turkey, Deer, Otter, etc. as time and weather allow.

Click here for information on my custom built SJX Jet Boat used on this Tour

Please contact me if interested
Mike Ramy

cell phone: 404-401-4855
email: [email protected]




A Special Time and Place on the Tennessee River

From the generous view offered by the spacious sunroom of this comfortable, fishing lodge styled cabin here at Blue Water Resort in Dayton, Tennessee I notice a single Eagle circling the cove and that the wind has picked up considerably since earlier this morning. Pinpoints of brilliant, reflected sunlight are sparkling, scattered across the surface of Lake Chickamauga and the Tennessee River, a mere two hundred feet or so from where I’m writing here.
We have come to Blue Water Resort because of its strategically located arrangement for both immediate river access and lodging on Lake Chickamauga, so very close to the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. We can be centrally anchored in the water, directly beneath the Sandhill Crane migratory flight path within five minutes after leaving our slip at the marina. Blue Water Resort is only fourteen miles from the observation platform gazebo within this landlocked portion of the refuge on nearby Highway 60. On our previous reconnaissance scouting of this particular viewing station near the banks of the Tennessee River, we found rather limited positioning for anything much other than landscape focused photography. Monitored regularly by county, state, and national government DNR Wildlife Protection agencies, fenced pasture lands provide a closer proximity for seeing a diversity of waterfowl flocking in larger numbers to feed near the water.
Special Bow Seat with Gimbal Mount that swivels with seat

Professional wildlife and nature photographer Mike Ramy has recently created a photography tour for both amateur and professional nature photographers alike, conducting his guided excursions exclusively out of Blue Water Resort on his powerful, custom designed Jet Boat, which he has outfitted specifically for the needs of a nature photographer in the field. In this manner he can easily capture the wonder of this local phenomenon which happens annually at the confluence of the Tennessee and Hiwassee rivers on Lake Chickamauga.
Beginning in late autumn, the skies start filling with an ever-increasing population of Sandhill Cranes during their winter migration south along the Appalachian portion of the flyway. Thousands of these graceful birds rest and forage in the diversified agriculture spanning the riverbank corridors as they roost along the shorelines, wetland marsh grasses, and Cypress islands of the refuge which offer both camouflage and provide a variety of feeding situations in increasingly colder temperatures. January brings about a peak experience in the proliferation of the cranes, and the best way in which to experience this wonder of nature is in close proximity to the birds along the Southern route of their path directly from the water.

   This Resort provides a comfortably arranged property with generous parking for all accommodations, offering RV lots with fire rings, several rental cabin units, as well as inviting, spacious log cabin styled lodging in a clean, quiet, privately owned and operated location directly on the water. The covered Marina is well designed and sits on the point of the property with secured and well-lit access to numerous docking slips. The gracious and friendly staff works extensively to provide everything possible to ensure the needs of their guests are provided for. The resort is usually booked far in advance for a very busy fishing season and numerous, intensely competitive tournament fishing events, and a small provisional goods store is conveniently located near the entrance to the marina. The boat ramp is well designed for negotiating boats into and out of the water as well as a level grade for balanced, easier tie down.  A large, covered pavilion directly beside the water is available for dining and event observation with plenty of tables and seating arrangements. Clean public bathrooms also offer guests access to shower stalls. The entire resort community reflects the considerable thought and detail which went into the overall concept of this welcoming venue. Bluewater Resort and Marina
   Viewing Cranes from an isolated, landlocked observation deck is certainly a viable option beneficial for some photography situations, but having access to the river on a boat strategically and custom designed for the considerable needs of the wildlife photographer by far offers the best way in which to have an “up close and personal” relational exposure to the sensory overload of both seeing thousands of flapping wings as well as hearing the incessant, raucous, harping of their cries as they fly directly overhead! They arrive in waves flying from just beyond the horizon, appearing like row after row of tiny, moving dots strung out across a width of open sky until suddenly; there they are, fluttering directly above you in a feathered, chaotic frenzy. Moving as if called to some far distant emergency beyond the setting sun they speed and your eye simply can’t engage one distinct image quickly enough amidst the cacophony of tangled visual imagery to even realize exactly what is happening! Just as one chevron squadron formation of beautiful birds swiftly passes by and fades beyond reach, another thundering wave is breaking upon you; then another, and then another floating black ribbon of screaming cranes arrive in such rapid succession you realize it is pointless to do much other than simply surrender to the exhilarating, heart pounding experience, realizing you’re witnessing first hand a glorious spectacle, arriving freely as a rare, inspiring  gift at the behest of nature’s generosity from its’ wildest and most magnificent heart! What a treasure to deposit in your memory’s hoard! We encourage you to come and partake of an adventure which is sure to leave an indelible print of appreciation for the natural world on your soul.


Incoming Sandhill Cranes
Written By: Julie Newsome
Images By: Mike Ramy




Along with the Sandhill Cranes that can number in the thousands,
hundreds of White Pelicans also stop over in this area during their migratory flights.





White Pelicans
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Adult and Juvenile Sandhill Crane flying off bow of boat

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Accommodations and additional information for

Blue Water Resort & Marina

Visit their Web-Site at:

Visit their FaceBook page at:

or contact directly at:

Office: 423-775-3265
Text: 423-443-3377

Email: [email protected]


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Sunset on the Tennessee River as Cranes return to roost


What do previous guest on this tour have to say?

   Anna Destefano
      December 2020

"Mike Ramy's Sandhill Crane tours aren’t just about the birds. I'd argue, they're almost entirely NOT about solely the birds. The experience of being on the water at sunrise and sunset and the thriving, ever-changing moments in between are magical. Simple. Transformative, literally, and you're only challenge is to capture a whisper of the true essence of Mike's guided journey through a glorious nature experience. This image is from my last morning on this year's trip. Freezing cold, foggy, waiting for "something" to happen--while EVERYTHING that mattered was happening all around use. Wouldn't have missed it for the world!"

   Joe Barranco
      December 2020

"A great trip for Lowell Sims and I. We had a great time and got some great images. The diversity of the wildlife is awesome. The boat was perfect for this type of photography. Perfect way to photograph Sandhills cranes in our area, from the boat you get some very unique perspectives. Mike puts you right in the middle of everything.

   Jenny Burdette
      December 2020

"Beautiful image! Being on the river with you was an amazing experience - your knowledge of the birds, the river, and the light is incredible. And your boat is a photographer’s dream!"


    Tricia Lynch
      December 2020

"I just had such a wonderful 3 days on tour! Each day brought a new element in nature to challenge our photography skills! Loved every minute of it! Thank you Mike for sharing your love of nature and photography with us!"



Notice: All Photographs above were captured during previous Tennessee River Sandhill Crane Tours


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Note: All excursions into nature either on foot, by off road vehicle or by boat can have some degree of danger or risk involved. My excursions are as safe as possible in order to protect my companion, myself and my equipment. We will proceed at a pace that is comfortable and safe for you and within your limits and/or the limits of my equipment for a particular situation. Anyone that travels with me however, does so at their own risk and is ultimately responsible for their own safety and for remaining within their own individual limitations.

Notice: All Photographs and Text in this web-site are Copyrighted and are the sole possession of Rock Art, Ltd.
Any unauthorized use is strictly prohibited by law. Violations will be treated appropriately.


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Dayton Area Recommendations:

One of the better places to eat
Screen Door Kitchen


Point of interest
The Scopes Trial Museum & Rhea County Courthouse

The Scopes Trial Museum & Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, TN - Tennessee Vacation (tnvacation.com)

This was the trial that the movie 'Inherit the Wind' was based
Inherit the Wind (1960) - IMDb