Department of Energy Public Bus Tours

The guided bus tour includes highlights of the history of Oak Ridge and the history of science and technology at the three U.S. Department of Energy/Oak Ridge facilities. A visit to AMSE before the start of the tour provides background details to more fully enjoy the tour!

Cost

Bus Tour ticket pricing (requires registration):

  • AMSE Members FREE
  • Adults $8
  • Youth (10-17) $5
  • Students with ID $5
  • Active Duty Military $5
  • Seniors 65+ $5

Purchase of a bus tour ticket includes admission to the museum for the full business day!

Registration

There are 2 ways to register for the bus tour. 1/2 of the seats are available for online registration below, and the other seats are available for in-person registration on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 9 am ET on the morning of the tour. We recommend online registration.

If you are registering in-person, everyone who wants to take the bus tour must be present the morning of the tour to register; you cannot sign up anyone but yourself.

On Mondays, AMSE is open to bus tour visitors beginning at 9 am ET. Those taking the bus tour can visit the museum before it opens to the general public at 1 pm ET.

On Tuesdays-Fridays, AMSE opens to all visitors at 9 am ET.

Online Registration

Online registration becomes available the first week of the month before the tours. Half of the available seats are offered for online registration. The other seats are available for in-person registration on the day of the tour on a first-come, first-served basis.

July: Register online for July 24 or 31. All other seats available for online registration are full.
August: Register online for August 1 – 18 or August 19 – 30.

Participants

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • 10 years of age or older
  • Must have current photo identification (18 or older). No photocopies are accepted; it must be the original document.
  • Seating is limited on a first-come, first-served basis
  • Some restrictions apply

This tour is accessible for a slow walker or wheelchair users who can get up a few steps. If you plan to use a wheelchair, we encourage 48 hours of notice. The Graphite Reactor portion of the tour is accessible for wheelchairs or walkers but requires participants to traverse a 350-footpath with a 4.8% slope to get from the tour bus to the reactor.

Scheduling

Bus boards at 11:15 am ET, leaves promptly at 11:30 am ET and returns at 2:30 pm ET.

Guide commentary provided throughout the tour.

March: Tours run Mondays and Fridays.
April & May: Tours run Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (except April 19 & May 27).
June, July, & August: Tours run daily on Mondays through Fridays (except July 4 & 5).
September & October: Tours run Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (except September 2).
November: Tours run Mondays and Fridays (except November 29).

There are no bus tours in December, January, and February.

Restrictions

The Department of Energy prohibits the introduction, transportation or possession of weapons, explosives, firearms, dangerous materials or instruments, controlled substances, alcoholic beverages,  any other items likely to produce substantial injury to persons or property, as well as any and all items prohibited by law.

This restriction includes:

  • Items prohibited by local, state or federal law.
  • Controlled substances (i.e., illegal drugs and associated paraphernalia).
  • Privately owned explosive chemicals and devices.
  • Privately owned handguns or rifle of any make or model, including air-powered.
  • Privately owned knives with blades longer than four inches.
  • Privately owned ammunition or projectiles (e.g., bullets, rockets, arrows, etc., that could be discharged from a weapon).
  • Items that could be used to start fires, excluding personal lighters.

Furthermore, DOE prohibits the introduction, transportation or possession of:

  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Privately owned two-way radios.
  • Any privately owned animal or pet not used as an assistance or service animal.
Additional restrictions include:
  • Large items are not allowed on the bus. This includes backpacks, briefcases, bags or purses larger than 12″ x 12″.
  • Camera cases (Cameras are permitted)
  • No food is permitted on the bus tour except for medical reasons. You may bring water.
  • The bus does not stop for food. Please eat before boarding the bus.
  • Smoking is prohibited during the bus tour.

DOE and AMSE reserve the right to remove people from bus tours for these and any other disruptions that may occur and/or which impact the experience of fellow passengers. Thank you for your cooperation.

Itinerary

New Hope Visitor Center (bus stop)
The visitor facility houses the spacious History Center featuring displays about the Manhattan Project, the Cold War, and other Y-12 missions.

Bethel Valley Church (bus stop)
New Bethel Baptist Church and Cemetery, founded in 1851, was officially closed by former church members as a house of worship in 1942 following the area’s Manhattan Project incorporation into the Oak Ridge Reservation. The cemetery features covered grave houses that are unique to the region. The church is still used for special events and homecoming celebrations.

Graphite Reactor at ORNL (bus stop)
A national historic landmark, the Graphite Reactor located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory served as the pilot project that led to the first production of plutonium. Visitors will view the world’s oldest nuclear reactor.

Spallation Neutron Source (drive by)
The Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) is an accelerator-based neutron source facility that provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world of scientific research and industrial development.

East Tennessee Technology Park Heritage Center, formerly K-25 (drive by)
Tour visitors learn about the gaseous diffusion process that enriched uranium (later sent to Y-12 for further enrichment) to power the first atomic bomb.

The DOE Bus Tour program is sponsored by the Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y-12 National Security Complex, East Tennessee Technology Park, and AMSE.

For more information, please call AMSE at (865) 294-4531.