Rivers, bayous, marshes, the Gulf of Mexico, salt - and freshwater lakes. The communities of Southeast Texas grew up around water. Our area offers some of best fishing on the Gulf Coast with plenty of shore fishing, boat launches and fishing charters. You can also kayak the region's multiple paddling trails or venture offshore into the Gulf. But if you're looking for the best way to get up close and personal with nature, we recommend a swamp or river tour. Below is a list of area guides and outfitters to get you started.

Neches River Adventures

Tour the Neches River and take in its wild beauty aboard the Ivory Bill, an open pontoon boat that navigates the shallows of cypress-lined backwater channels. Public tours leave from Beaumont's Riverfront Park (reservations are required) and are available every Saturday, March through November. Tours last approximately two hours. Learn more here. (409) 651-5326

Big Thicket Outfitters

Take a tour of the Big Thicket National Preserve with this family-owned company. Offering more than three decades of experience, Big Thicket Outfitters provides swamp tours, pontoon boat rides and Full Moon tours. They offer four tour locations to choose from, including the Neches River and Village Creek. Tours last 2-4 hours. Their services also include canoe and kayak rentals if you're up to venturing out on your own. (409) 786-1884

Gator Country Swamp Tours

Departing from Leon's Fish Camp, Gator Country Swamp Tours get you up close and personal with the wildlife of Taylor's Bayou. The hour-long tours include a discussion of the ecological importance of the bayou and the species that call it home. Reservations are required. (409) 794-9453

Neches River Adventures Boat Tours

Pine Tree Lodge Swamp Tours

Opened in 1984, Pine Tree Lodge boasts a waterside patio from which you can spot alligators. On many weekends from 12 noon until dark, the Lodge offers airboat rides along Taylor Bayou. Tours are approximately 30 minutes long and can accommodate six to eight people. Call for the schedule. (409) 796-1600

Swamp & River Tours

Experience the incredible scenery of the moss-draped Blue Elbow Swamp in Orange, Texas. On this tour, you'll have the opportunity to see alligators, native birds and a variety of flora and fauna. Go through an old ship graveyard, pass by cannibalistic Indian sites and enter a swamp tunnel. Learn more here. (409) 883-0856

Dragon Lady Airboats

Dragon Lady Airboats offers private day and night time airboat rides of the Blue Elbow Swamp in Orange, Texas. Choose between an hour and a half or half day charter during the day. Sunset and night charters are available for two or three hours. Call for reservations. (321) 266-1498 

Beaumont is overflowing with outdoor recreation. Explore city parks, botanical gardens and more.