River boat tours coming to Trinity River


Landlocked Fort Worth may seem an unlikely place for scenic boat tours but that’s about to happen as soon as next month.

The Tarrant Regional Water District board on Tuesday granted an operating license to a Waco boat tour company to add Trinity River cruises to its operations.

Beginning in mid-July, Waco River Safari boat tours will launch Panther Island Boat Tours with several types of river cruises from Panther Island Pavilion north of downtown Fort Worth.

Ryan Helm, owner of Waco River Safari, said the Fort Worth operation would be similar to the Brazos River cruises he has been commanding for the past two years.

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Shanna Cate, director of the programming and development for the TRWD, said boat tours offer another opportunity for residents and visitors to interact with the Trinity.

“We’re heard so many requests from people who want to be on the water for a leisurely activity with no swimsuit or paddle required,” Cate said. “This will be a perfect complement to our other river activities.”

Helm said the operation would begin with a single 30-foot pontoon boat that can comfortably seat up to 20 people.

Tour options available are a one-hour family tour, a two-hour sunset tour and a one-hour night tour.

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“We’re excited and looking forward to getting started here,” Helm said.

The tours will offer some informational and historic perspective about Fort Worth as well as the opportunity to see downtown and other parts of the city from a different perspective, Helm said.

The night tour will focus on city lights, he said.

The tours will take passengers along parts of the Clear and West forks of the Trinity.

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Cate said the river cruises are already popular entertainment options in Austin, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

“Experiences are vital for residents to offer their out-of-town guests,” Mitch Whitten, executive vice president of Visit Fort Worth. “We encourage all visitors to stay longer and experience more of Fort Worth. “

Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce officials also expressed enthusiasm for the new venture.

“This will offer our residents a whole new way to connect with our waterway and learn more about Fort Worth’s natural surroundings,” Rebecca Montgomery, senior vice president of advocacy for the chamber, said in a statement. “The new cruises will be an unique attraction unlike anything else in the region.”

Helm said the goal is to run as many as 10 tours per day on weekends, provided the river is not at flood level.

Hour-long tours will cost $15 for adults, $9 for children and $3 for toddlers.

Relaxing, two-hour sunset cruises will cost $39 per person and include the option of a meal for additional cost. BYOB will be available on these cruises.

Private cruise parties also will be available.

TRWD officials said there is almost no cost to taxpayers for this operation because the operator will use existing dock and boat ramps at Panther Island Pavilion.