Safety on an Airboat

You can’t go to the Everglades without a ride on an airboat! It’s iconic! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Think of an airboat ride as an adventure through a mysterious wetland. Airboats are fun to ride, but throughout the years, there have been airboat accidents, just like there are car accidents. Accidents happen, but if you equip yourself with the proper safety knowledge and ride with a reputable company, like Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours, you will have a safe trip.

Captain Mitch has been in the airboat tour business since he was little. He has more than 30 years of experience chartering through the Everglades and prides himself on taking people on fun and safe airboat tours.

On an airboat tour, airboat captains will instruct passengers on safety precautions before departing. Here are the safety measures and guidelines that airboats must meet, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, to help insure an airboat trip will be a safe experience:

  1. Propeller Safety – No person is allowed near the propeller. All items and equipment must be secured, so they do not get caught in the propeller.
  2. Safety Equipment – Airboats must be equipped with ear protection, eye protection, first-aid kid, cell phone in a water-proof buoyant case, drinking water and a B-1 type approved fire extinguisher.
  3. Pre-Operation Checklist – Before leaving, the captain will check the boat to make sure everything is working properly to avoid accidents, injuries, and mechanical breakdowns.
  4. Weather – Weather is unpredictable, so the airboat captains make themselves aware of the weather forecast and keep an eye on it throughout the day. For lightning, high wind, and thunderstorms, airboats will be docked. Airboats can operate during fog, but will go slower and turn on strobe lights.
  5. Navigation – Airboat captains are trained in proper maneuvering and navigation techniques to get through tight areas and blind spots. They also know the airboat routes like the back of their hand and can report their location in case of an emergency.  Airboat captains are also looking out for obstacles in the way whether wildlife, other boats, plant life or other obstructions.
  6. Preventative maintenance – Each week, captains will work on keeping the airboat clean and working efficiently, by checking and maintaining the propeller, exhaust system, oil, engines and more.

If you’re looking for a fun and safe airboat trip, come out with Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours. To schedule an airboat tour, click our Everglades airboat ride page or contact Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065.

 

Explore by Foot on the Everglades’ Trails

The Everglades is vast! So, where do you begin? Although zipping through the wetland on an airboat tour is an amazing way to explore the area, there are several hiking and biking trails in the Everglades National Park that are worth the walk!

When exploring the Everglades by foot, the Park asks visitors to pay attention to the weather, wear proper attire, bring water, and leave pets at home.

We wanted to share with you a few trails that allow you to explore the flora and fauna of the Park.

Non-Maintained Trails (Due to nearby endangered species)

Coastal Prairie Trail – This trail is 11.2 miles long. It isn’t a recommended trail due to its open exposure to the sun and abundance of mosquitos. It also can get very muddy. Being 11.2 miles, this trail can be a very tiring walk. It’s a critical habitat for the Cape Sable thoroughwort.

Snake Bight – Snake Bite trail is a 7.6-mile loop. It’s level of difficulty is moderate leading visitors from the forest to the shoreline of the Florida Bay. You may spot crocodiles, flamingos, mosquitos, pythons and anacondas on this trail. Snake Bight can be walked or bight. Unfortunately, it is also very buggy and is a critical habitat for the Cable Sable thoroughwort.

Christian Point Trail – This trail is challenging as it leads people deep into a mangrove forest along the Florida Bay. After the forest, the trail opens up to a small prairie and then into a large mark prairie. Like the other two trails, this trail is also a critical habitat for Cape Sable thoroughwort and buggy, since the area is heavily vegetated. It is 4.2 miles round trip.

Other Non-Maintained Trails:
Rowdy Bend
Bear Lake
LPK Bike Trail

Maintained Trails:

Anhinga Trail – A popular trail and an easy one at .8 miles. It’s close to the Park entrance. You can easily spot wildlife on this trail, including alligators and birds.  There are several observation decks throughout the trail.

Bayshore Loop – Bayshore Loop is an easy to moderate level trail that is 1.3 miles long. This trail is extremely buggy. This loop brings visitors along the edge of the Florida Bay through the coastal prairie habitat and passes through the original fishing village of Flamingo. If you enjoy bird watching, this is the trail for you.

Pa-Hay-Okee Boardwalk – The Boardwalk is an easy .2 mile loop that leads visitors through the “River of Grass” (Pa-Hay-Okee). This boardwalk leads people to an observation tower.

Other Maintained Trails:
Bear Lake Trail
Bobcat Boardwalk
Gumbo Limbo Trail
Guy Bradley Trail
Mahogany Hammock Trail
Old Ingraham Highway
Otter Cave Hammock Trail
Pinelands Ecotone
West Lake Mangrove Trail

Explore The Everglades by Airboat

On foot, you get an up-and-close experience with this beautiful national park and might even get the chance to see some birds and animals! If you’re tired of walking, jump on an airboat tour!  To schedule an airboat trip when you’re visiting the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.

 

The River of Grass: The Everglades’ Grass

river of grassDid you know the Everglades is nicknamed the River of Grass? The Everglades received this nickname in 1947 by Marjory Stoneman Douglas; she used this name to reflect the area’s slow movement of shallow sheet flow through the marshes. The Everglades is home to many species of grass, including muhly grass, blackrush, arrowfeather, Florida bluestem, and Elliot’s lovegrass. Across the Everglades, these species of grass grow no talker than 4 feet.

More than 100 species of native grass in the Poaceae family grow inside the Park, as well as dozens of other species in different grass families. Grasses in the Everglades can live in both the wet and dry season. These grasses have also adapted to fires. In fact, after a fire, these grasses regrow once heavy rains commence in the region during the wet season of May to October.

To talk a little more about muhly grass, it is native to the southeastern United States. It grows in clumps at about 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. It’s an upright and stiff grass. In the fall, it blooms purple flowers. You can find muhly grass in the pine flatwoods and coastal prairies. The Native Americans used to use this type of grass for basket weaving.

Sawgrass dominates all other grass in the Everglades. It actually covers thousands of acres of marsh. It’s consider a sedge that can grow up to 6 feet or more. Wiregrass grows densely and grows up to 3 feet tall. Gopher tortoises and quail feed on this grass. Cutthroat grass grows up to 4 feet in height and it helps control erosion. Toothache grass is a perennial bunch grass that grows more than 3 feet tall; it’s stem contains a substance that can numb feeling in the tongue and gums.

If you’ve never been to the Everglades or seen miles of grass, a great way to explore it is through an airboat tour. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours has been giving tours to people in this wetland for more than 30 years. To book a tour. Click our Everglades airboat tour page  or call 800-368-0065.

 

 

 

Interesting Facts About the Everglades

everglades airboat tourHow much do you know about the Everglades? At Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours, we spend a lot of time zipping through the waters of the Everglades, so we thought we’d share some quick and fun facts about this beautiful Park with you.

  • The Park is home to 13 endangered species.
  • The Park is home to 10 threatened species.
  • The Everglades has the largest continuous sawgrass prairie in North America.
  • The Everglades has the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere.
  • It is home to the most significant breeding ground for wading birds in North America.
  • It is a water recharge area for all of South Florida through the Biscayne aquifer.
  • It provides water for more than 8 million Florida residents.
  • It is a World Heritage site.
  • The Park is a Biosphere Reserve.
  • It is a Wetland of International Significance.
  • The Everglades is home to 9 different/distinct habitats.
  • The Everglades is actually a river that is constantly moving.
  • It is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles coexist.
  • The Everglades used to be more than 8 million acres in size.
  • Now, the Everglades is around 1.5 million acres in size.
  • The Park is home to more than 350 species of birds and 300 species of fish.
  • The Everglades is North America’s largest subtropical wetland ecosystem.
  • The Everglades has two seasons: wet and dry.
  • Its nickname is “River of Grass.”
  • Local Native Americans called the Everglades “Pahayokee,” which means “grassy waters.”
  • On average, 75 inches of rain falls into the Park.
  • Most of the water in the Everglades is fresh water not salt water.
  • Calusa Indians are the tribe who lived in the Everglades and southern Florida as far back as 1000 B.C.
  • Airboats are iconic in this Park.

Come jump on an airboat an experience a once-in-a-lifetime trip. If you’ve never been to the Everglades, a great way to explore it is through an airboat tour. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours has been giving tours to people in the “River of Grass” for more than 30 years. To book a tour. Click our Everglades airboat tour page  or call 800-368-0065.

 

Everglades Animal Profile: Bobcat

bobcatThe bobcat may be cute, but it not a feline you can cuddle and pet. Bobcats can easily be spotted in the Everglades and are not endangered. They are mainly nocturnal creatures but can be seen during daylight. In the Everglades, bobcats have been seen walking around Bear Lake Trail, Snake Bight Trail, and the main Park road.

Bobcats can live in various types of habitats. In one day, an adult bobcat can travel anywhere from 5 to 50 miles looking for food. Its prey includes: small mammals (squirrels, opossums, rodents), birds, and fish.

Bobcats are much smaller than the Florida panther, who can also be found in the Everglades. They two coexist in the Park.

Bobcats have short tails and have fringed fur on the sides of their head. Their weight can range from 13 to 35 pounds, and they can grow up to 50 inches in length.  Their fur is spotted with white, black, red, brown, and gray markings. Bobcats can live up to 14 years in the wild.

Bobcats can be spotted in forests, trails, swamps, and even backyards. They don’t just live in Florida. In fact, they have been known to live from Canada all the way down to Central America.

The bobcat will “live” in a den it creates in a tree, cave, or open shelter. Often, bobcats has more than one den spread across different areas, incase they need shelter.  A female bobcat will have 1-2 kittens in a litter. Bobcat mating season is August to March.

For the most part, a bobcat will not approach a human. For your safety, it’s best to leave a bobcat, and all wildlife alone while in the wild or the Everglades.

Come on an airboat tour and see if you can spot a bobcat walking around during daylight! Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours has been giving tours to in the Everglades for more than 30 years. To book a tour. Click our Everglades airboat tour page or call 800-368-0065.

Learn About Science and Research in the Everglades

scienceThe Everglades is a scientist’s dream. There is so much to explore, research, track, and investigate in the River of Grass. Research is occurring in the Everglades year-round. From climate change to animals, researchers are learning more about this special Park.

What type of research is occurring in the Park? The South Florida Natural Resources Center (SFNRC) conducts science, which informs the management of the south Florida national park units. Such programs include: wildlife, hydrology, water quality, restoration, invasive plants, and animals. This organization gives out research permits to those who are interested in conducting research from universities, and non-governmental organizations and agencies. The Park gives out permits to support and encourage natural and social science studies with the hope that these studies will help with our understanding of the park’s resources, and how its usage affects/impacts the ecosystem.

Some programs include: Ride and Slough Ecology Program, Ecological Modeling Program, Hydrologic Modeling Program, Wildlife Monitoring Program, Aquatics Program, Invasive Plant Program, Invasive Animal Program, Marine and Estuarine Resources Management, Modified Water Deliveries Project, Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan Project, and the Tamiami Trail Next Steps Project.

The Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative (CESI) funds research projects that are focused on ecosystem restoration in the Everglades and South Florida. This initiative has been in place for the last 15 years, and has helped created a better understanding of the research. With these projects, researchers have learned what should be monitored, the status of certain species in ecosystems, trends in the ecosystem, and how to streamline assessment of restoration efforts.

To learn more about everglades research, click here. If you’ve never been to the Everglades, a great way to experience it is through an airboat tour. You’ll be able to see the dynamic ecosystem up-close-and-personal. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours has been giving tours to people in this wetland for more than 30 years. To book a tour. Click our Everglades airboat tour page  or call 800-368-0065.

 

Where Should You Enter the Park?

parkThe Everglades is vast! There are so many different areas to explore… 1.5 million acres of land to be exact. The Park has three entrances that are hours apart from each other, so before you head down, you should decide which entrance you’d like to enter.  Your decision should be based on where you want to go and see and do. Here are the Park’s entrances:

Shark Valley in Miami: This area is considered the heartland of the Everglades. You can walk, bike, or ride a tram along a 15-mile loop from this entrance. There is a 65-foot observation tower that gives you an amazing view of the Everglades. You will definitely get to see birds, fish, turtles, alligators and more while in Shark Valley.

Gulf Coast in Everglades City: This center allows you to take a boat tour (on your own or scheduled) to see different sights. You can explore the Gulf Coast and mangrove estuaries of the Ten Thousand Islands from this area.

Royal Palm in Homestead: At this entrance you can go on the Anhinga Trail or the Gumbo Limbo Trail. Lots of wildlife can be spotted on the Anhinga Trail, which borders the Taylor Slough. The Gumbo Limbo Trail goes through a hardwood hammock. This is the Park’s main entrance.

If you follow the Everglades road, you can take the Pineland trail, which is a half mile around a pine forest. Or, you can go down the Pahavokee Overlook, which is a boardwalk trail with an observation platform looking over the Park. Lastly, this road can take you to the Mahogany Hammock Trail which goes through a dense hammock of air plants and gumbo-limbo trees. It is home to the largest mahogany tree in the United States. At the end of the road, you will find Flamingo followed by Florida Bay.

Want to explore the Everglades in another way? Not on foot? An airboat tour is the way to go!  If you go toward Homestead you can get on an air boat with Captain Mitch! An airboat tour with Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours give you an up close look of the Everglades. You’ll get to see lots of wildlife and plants on this trip. Captain Mitch has been navigating the Everglades for decades! To book an airboat ride, click Everglades airboat rides page or call 800-368-0065.

Make a Trip to the Everglades Educational

educationalThe Everglades isn’t just a fun place to explore, it can be very educational, as well. From the ecosystem to animals, there’s so much to learn about or in this National Park. Whether you’re an educator or a parent, the Everglades is a great place to bring children and teenagers to educate them on so many different topics.

The National Park Service and Everglades National Park offers a lot of different materials for educators or parents to use with their children in the classroom, at home, or even in the Park itself.

Below, we wanted to share some of these guides:

  • Life of the Everglades ID Sheet – This worksheet has pictures of common plants and animals seen in sloughs and sawgrass prairie areas like the Anhinga Trail. You can easily bring this sheet to the Park to identify a certain plant or animal you spot.
  • K-3: Everglades ABCs – This guide is filled with a lot of classroom activities for young children.
  • 4th Grade: The Journey of Wayne Drop: This guide teacher fourth grader about the Everglades Watershed through an interactive trip through the Park.
  • 4th-6th Activity Guide – This guide provides interactive indoor and outdoor activities about the Park, plants, animals, native peoples, and more.
  • Climate Change Activities – These activities aim to teach 5th and 6th grade students about the greenhouse effect, sea level rising, and carbon budget.
  • 5th-8th Don’t Let it Loose Activity Guide: This guide talks about non-native and invasive species that are not good for the natural ecosystem.
  • K-8: Everglades Mountains & Valleys Lessons Plans: These are curriculum-based plans and activities written by local south Florida teachers and park rangers.

 

Whether you’re a teacher, home school children, run a day care, or are just bringing your kids to the Park, these activities are a great way for them to learn about what’s happening to and in the Park. To request for these guides, call  (305) 242-7753.

To view all the wonderful plant life and wildlife you will read in these guides, go on an airboat tour! Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours give you a glimpse of the Everglades like no other. Captain Mitch has been navigating the Everglades for decades! To book an airboat ride, click Everglades airboat rides page or call 800-368-0065.

Info on the Flamingo Visitor Center

flamingo visitor centerAs you may have heard, the Everglades National Park won a preservation grant that will be used to restore the outside of the Flamingo Visitor Center. This visitor center has been a popular spot and attraction for visitors since the 1960s. The Center was originally built as part of the “Mission 66” program to modernize the parks for visitors.

The Flamingo Visitor Center was built in the style of the Park Service combined with the Miami Modern style. The Miami style was developed post World War II; it reflects an international style by adds glamour, fun, and material excesses that go beyond simple modern architecture. Flamingo has bold colors, a Keystone veneer, jalousie windows and louvered screen walls.

The Park was one of 20 national parks competing for the grant. The $250,000 grant will repair the outside of the building, the landscape, and improve the visitor experience by opening a new visitor center inside.

Inside the Flamingo Visitor Center, there are educational displays, brochures, and backcountry permits. You can easily access campgrounds, a public boat ramp, a marina store, and hiking and canoeing trails near this center.

The Buttonwood Café is open in the winter. However, it is closed currently after damage from Hurricane Irma. Boat ramps are open, but fuel is unavailable and the marina store is closed. It is essential for visitors to the area to bring their own food and water.

Want to explore the Everglades in a fun and exciting way? An airboat tour is the way to go!  An airboat tour with Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours give you a glimpse of the Everglades like no other. You’ll get to see lots of animals and plants on this trip. Captain Mitch has been navigating the Everglades for decades! To book an airboat ride, click Everglades airboat rides page or call 800-368-0065.

 

Activities in the Everglades

activities in the evergladesThe Everglades is a really fun and interesting, but if you want to do more than just explore the Park on your own there’s plenty of fun tours and activities happening regularly in the Park. Summer is approaching so the activities in Park have ended for the season, but if you want to venture into the Park during the summer months, there is still plenty for you to do.  Below, we wanted to share with you some activities in the Everglades:

  • Anhinga Amble – This is a 50-minute stroll on the Anhinga Trail where you will get a chance to see alligators, wading birds, and other wildlife. The stroll is every day from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and starts at Royal Palm. It is free with Park entrance.
  • Glades Glimpse – Listen to a ranger talk about many different topics within the Everglades. Topics vary daily. This talk occurs every day from 1:30 to 2 p.m. and starts at Royal Palm. It is free with Park entrance.
  • Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours – Take in all the sights and sounds of the Everglades as you zip through the water. Captain Mitch and his team have been navigating these waters for decades. Your time at Captain Mitch’s will be one of the greatest memories of the Florida Everglades ecosystem and swamplands, whether you are visiting or a year-round resident. It’s a unique way to explore!
  • Camping – Camping during the wet season (June through November) can be difficult and uncomfortable due to heat and rain. Campers must bring their own equipment.
  • Biking, canoeing, and kayaking can be done year-round. Remember to read signs so you know where you’re allowed to take your boat/bike.

If you’re tired of walking and want a chance to see more of the Everglades, an airboat tour is ideal!  A tour with Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours give you a glimpse of the Everglades like no other. Captain Mitch has been navigating the Everglades for decades! To book an airboat ride, click Everglades airboat rides page or call 800-368-0065.

 

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