Getting To & Around Alaska: By Ferry
Alaska’s coastal regions are known for abundant wildlife, stunning tidewater glaciers, and lively port communities. For many of these towns, ferries and water taxis are the primary link to the rest of the state and beyond.
Traveling to and within Alaska on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry is an excellent option for independent travelers and families, allowing you to bring your car, RV, bicycle, or kayak along for the ride. In addition to the Alaska Marine Highway, other ferry services and water taxis provide access to port communities and remote coastal areas throughout the state.
Ferries and water taxis allow visitors to travel at their own pace and create their own itinerary. It’s important to book ferry travel in advance, especially during summer months or if traveling with a vehicle. For those that are looking for an all-inclusive experience, small and large cruise ships are a popular way to travel to and around the state.
Alaska Marine Highway Ferry
The Alaska Marine Highway is Alaska’s state-owned ferry system. The ferry offers scheduled service from Bellingham, WA and Prince Rupert, B.C. to over 35 port communities in the Inside Passage, Prince William Sound, Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island, and the Aleutian Islands. Road trippers can disembark in Skagway or Haines to access the road system in the Yukon, and then connect with the Alaska Highway to finish the journey into Alaska’s Interior by road.
Quick daytime connections between port communities are common, but some connections require an overnight stay onboard the ferry. Private cabins can be reserved, and travelers can also sleep in tents and sleeping bags in public areas, including lounges and outdoor solariums. Dining rooms and cafeterias offer hot and cold food for purchase. Travelers can enjoy the passing scenery from open-air decks, heated solariums, and forward observation lounges.
Walk-on ferry travelers can easily experience Alaska’s port towns without bringing a car or RV. Much of Alaska’s Inside Passage is frequented by cruise ship passengers, so many of the local tour operations and visitor services are set up to accommodate guests without a car. Bicycles are available for rent in many locations, allowing travelers to explore at their own pace while onshore. Since many port communities were established before cars became commonplace, they tend to have compact, pedestrian-friendly downtown areas.
More information on Alaska Marine Highway reservations, schedules, and prices can be found on the Alaska Marine Highway website.
Plan Your Trip
Alaska is a land of superlatives and adventure. Explore five distinct regions and varied travel routes and modes of transportation as you plan your Alaska getaway.
Explore by Region
Alaska’s far north features the country’s only Arctic ecosystem; northern lights dance above the snowy tundra in winter, while birds and caribou graze during long summer days.
The Inside Passage in Southeast Alaska is home to breathtaking temperate rainforests, protected waterways, and glaciers reaching into deep coastal fjords.
The Interior Region is a quintessentially Alaska landscape, bounded by high mountain ranges (it’s home to Denali) and crisscrossed by glorious river vistas.
Southcentral Alaska is home to vividly diverse wilderness landscapes – from beaches to mountaintops to fjords – as well as half the state’s population.
Southwest Alaska’s islands, river deltas, and mountains teem with fish and wildlife.
Alaska: AKA Your Next Adventure
Where will your Alaska adventure take you? Order our Official State of Alaska Vacation Planner and plot your course.