There is nowhere else in the world quite like Oak Ridge, TN! Established during WWII by the Army Corps of Engineers, the so-called “Secret City” was at the center of the Manhattan Project. Today, Oak Ridge continues to pioneer state-of-the-art technology that is used all around the world.

For a fascinating look at the Secret City’s past and present, we highly recommend taking an Oak Ridge bus tour with the U.S. Department of Energy. This 3-hour journey through Oak Ridge stops at numerous historic sites from the Manhattan Project and highlights the important scientific work being conducted today. Read on to find out everything you need to know about taking one of these popular bus tours.

Oak Ridge Bus Tour Itinerary

New Hope Center at the Y-12 National Security Complex (bus stop): The History Room at the New Hope Visitor Center features displays and a video about the Manhattan Project, the Cold War, and current research at Y-12.

New Bethel Baptist Church (bus stop): This historic church was founded in 1851 and includes a cemetery with covered grave houses that are unique to the region.

Spallation Neutron Source (drive by): Scientists from around the globe come to Oak Ridge to conduct research at the Spallation Neutron Source facility, which provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams on the planet.

Historic Graphite Reactor (bus stop): As the world’s oldest nuclear reactor, this facility was responsible for the first production of plutonium for the Manhattan Project.

East Tennessee Technology Park (formerly K-25) (drive by): The K-25 plant employed the gaseous diffusion process of uranium enrichment for military and energy purposes from 1945 to 1985. When it was built in 1944, the facility was the world’s largest building, and its footprint is still visible today at the East Tennessee Technology Park.

Oak Ridge Bus Tour Schedule

The Oak Ridge bus tours run from March through November, excluding federal holidays. Tours leave from the American Museum of Science and Energy (except for August and September 2018, when tours will leave from the New Hope Center at 602 Scarboro Road). Tours begin at 11:30 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. The 2018 bus tour schedule is as follows:

  • March (Monday and Friday)
  • April and May (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)
  • June – August (Monday through Friday) (NOTE: Tour will not be held on Friday, June 8)
  • September and October (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)
  • November (Monday and Friday)
  • December – February (Tours unavailable during the winter season)

Signing Up for an Oak Ridge Bus Tour

Participants can register for an Oak Ridge bus tour in advance on the American Museum of Science & Energy website. Walk-in registration is available on a first come, first served basis.

The cost of taking a bus tour of Oak Ridge is as follows:

  • $5 for adults
  • $4 for senior citizens (65+)
  • $3 for students (10 – 17)

This fee also includes admission to all of the wonderful exhibits at the American Museum of Science & Energy! When the AMSE is closed in August and September 2018, the bust tour is free. Please note that bus tours are only open to United States citizens who are at least 10 years old. Photo identification is required.

For more fun things to do during your visit to Oak Ridge, check out our Culture page!