When the Ivory Bill’s done cutting thick, green cypress-lined waters lined waters, and docks in a “nature classroom,” the guide lowers his voice to point out company. It could be a yellow crowned night heron… turtles… butterflies…
The eco tour typically begins at Riverfront Park in downtown Beaumont, 10 a.m. most Saturdays, March through November. The covered excursion boat sometimes navigates the Port of Beaumont’s industrial action before switching to shallows and backwater channels that once aided the lumber trade.
Guests comfy on cushioned benches hear stories of the people and products that developed Neches River trade. The ecosystem’s dense bottomland forests of hardwoods and pines is home to more than 200 tree species, 47 mammals, 300 birds and its share of reptiles and amphibians. You might also see some fishermen.
Eco tours last about two hours, says Bruce Walker, executive director of the Big Thicket Association. The Ivory Bill offers student labs and group charters year round. Public tours depart from Beaumont’s Riverfront Park each Saturday, March – November. Reservations are required by calling 409-651-5326. Private Charters are available year-round. Log-on to www.nechesriveradventures.org for more information.
While staying in Port Arthur, water lovers will also want to check out Sea Rim State Park for natural beach and marshland kayaking and Pleasure Island’s Sabine Lake for fishing and sailing.