Long weekend in Alaska's Inside Passage

Bellingham, Ketchikan

Day 1 Bellingham
Begin in Bellingham, Washington, located 80 miles north of Seattle and 45 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia. Bellingham serves as the southernmost port for the Alaska Marine Highway System, the state’s ferry system. The Port of Bellingham offers train, bus and shuttle service from the area’s major airports. Ferries allow visitors to bring RVs, cars, kayaks and bicycles on board. The Alaska Ferry is also a great way to meet locals, who use the ferry system to reach secluded towns and islands that they call home.

Prepare to relax for the next day and a half cruising the green and misty Inside Passage. Ferry vessels are fully equipped with dining rooms and cafeterias, movies, onboard naturalists and small gift shops. Spend the night in a private cabin (must be reserved in advance) or bring along a small tent or sleeping bags to set up in one of the various lounges on board or directly on deck.

Day 2 At Sea
The Inside Passage boasts spectacular natural beauty. Spend the day aboard the ferry and enjoy scenic vistas of the forest-covered islands, coves and fjords that make up the region. Bring binoculars to look for wildlife – marine species such as humpback and orca whales, sea otters, seals and sea lions are common sightings from the ferry, as well as bald eagles and other shorebirds. Don’t forget your camera – the snow-capped peaks and glittering tidewater glaciers are just a few of the reasons cruising the Inside Passage is the most popular way visitors explore Alaska.

long weekend in Alaska's Inside Passage

Day 3 Ketchikan
Disembark at the ferry terminal upon arrival in Ketchikan. Pick up a walking tour map and explore downtown at your leisure. Ketchikan is very pedestrian friendly; the bus system is easy to navigate and bicycle rentals are also available. The narrow city runs between the waterfront and the mountains behind it for several miles. Explore historic Creek Street, a boardwalk street built over Ketchikan Creek on pilings. A variety of local shops and galleries dot the boardwalk, as well as several restaurants featuring fresh, wild Alaska seafood and other local fare. Other attractions in town include the Tongass Historical Museum, Southeast Alaska Discovery Center and the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show; all provide a sense of Ketchikan’s colorful history.

Day 4 Ketchikan
Take an excursion boat or plane to Misty Fiords National Monument. The 2.3 million-acre monument is comprised of steep and dramatic fjords and home to a variety of wildlife. After mid-July, day trips to one of several nearby bear-viewing areas offer up-close (and safe) encounters with resident bruins. Visit Rotary Beach, Refuge Cove State Park or Settler's Cove State Park and hike, beach comb and or have a relaxing picnic. Return to town where you can board the ferry and head back down the Inside Passage to Bellingham, or fly via jet service from Ketchikan International Airport to Bellingham or Seattle.