Environmentalists have complained about them for decades, but airboats have been an iconic feature of the Florida Everglades since the early 1940s. That era of Everglades airboat tours is about to come to an end. Effective October 1, the National Park Service has put into effect new regulations that will phase out airboat operators in Everglades National Park. Current operators are grandfathered but no new permits will be issued.
Airboat operators are not happy. Charlie Erwin, a veteran operator of Everglades airboat tours and secretary of the Florida Airboat Association, is frustrated by the changes to a place he has enjoyed since boyhood. “In the old days,” he says, “you ate whatever you found out there. You’d stick a couple of frogs, kill a deer. Anything the park does, they kick out the people who truly love it and let in snowbirds. You get on your little boardwalk and take pictures. With the park service, it’s all about profit.”
On the other side of the issue, John Adornato, regional director of the National Parks Association Conservation Association praises the plan, saying it elevates the South Florida wetland wilderness to “it’s proper place next to Yellowstone, Yosemite or the Grand Canyon.”
Whatever your view of the best way to see the Everglades, it’s a world-class natural area definitely worth visiting. Marjory Stoneman Douglas, author of The Everglades: River of Grass, wrote “There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth, remote, never wholly known. Nothing anywhere else is like them.”
To help introduce you to the Everglades, here’s a directory of outfitters serving Everglades National Park, some who run Everglades airboat tours and some who offer a more laid back approach to visiting, touring and fishing the Everglades.
If you’re intrigued by the Florida Everglades, be sure and read outdoor adventurer and writer Geoffrey Norman’s story on BG, “Finding My Way in the Everglades,” about a week-long canoe trip he and his wife Marsha, took in the watery wilderness.
Directory of Outfitters and Guides who serve Florida’s Everglades National Park, as well as other natural areas in Florida (and in the case of Adirondack Exposure, other states as well):
- Adirondack Exposure Camping, Fishing Instructions, Float Trips, Fly Fishing, Kayaking, Kayaking Instruction, River and Lake Canoeing
- Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort Cruises, Offshore Fishing, Scuba Diving Instruction, Scuba Diving and Snorkelling, Sea Kayaking
- Blue Moon Expeditions Fly Fishing, Inshore Fishing
- Buffalo Tiger’s Airboat Tours Boat Tours, Wildlife Viewing
- Coopertown Airboat Boat Tours, Wildlife Viewing
- Everglades Adventures Boat Tours, Kayaking
- Everglades Adventure Tours Boat Tours
- Florida Bay Outfitters Kayaking Instruction, Scuba Diving and Snorkelling, Sea Kayaking, Stand-Up Paddling
- Gator Park Airboat Tours Boat Tours
- Shark Valley Tram Tours Natural Area Tours