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Views of Sitka, Alaska in the Inside Passage
Photo Credit: ATIA, Mark Kelley
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Inside Passage Route

Inside Passage Route

Starting Location: Bellingham, WA; Prince Rupert, BC; or Vancouver, BC
Ending Location: Valdez, Alaska

Best For:

  • The unique experience of traveling by ferry and road
  • Coastal scenery, marine wildlife, and stops in port towns

TOP SIGHTS:

Cultural Ambassador in regalia in the woods on the Forest Walk from the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre in Whistler - ITBC
WHISTLER, BC. Photo Credit: Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, Blake Jorgensen

Driving the Inside Passage Route

Gliding quietly past the dense spruce forests of the British Columbia coastline and along the shores of Alaska’s Inside Passage, a fleet of ferries carries passengers and vehicles along the BC Ferries Routes and the Alaska Marine Highway System—an interconnected network of communities accessible by sea. This route is ideal for those who want to get on and off the ferry when they please, staying for a few hours or several days in each port of call. Starting in either Bellingham, WA or Vancouver, BC, the Inside Passage Route combines both ferry and land travel for a truly unique road trip.

Starting in Bellingham, WA or Prince Rupert, BC

Board the Alaska Marine Highway, Alaska’s state-owned ferry system, in either Bellingham, WA tor Prince Rupert, BC to connect to over 35 ports of call along the Alaska coastline – from the Inside Passage all the way out to the Aleutian Islands. The Alaska Marine Highway System accommodates walk-on passengers and vehicles, with reservable private cabins and camping available in public areas like lounges and outdoor solariums.

Alaska Marine Highway Ferry
ALASKA MARINE HIGHWAY, ALASKA. Photo Credit: ATIA, Reinhard Pantke

Your journey along the Inside Passage Route will take you to Alaska port communities like Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, and Juneau, before disembarking in Haines or Skagway to start your land adventure. If disembarking in Haines, your road trip begins with a short drive along the Haines Highway to Haines Junction, where you will connect with the Alaska Highway. For those disembarking in Skagway, your journey to Western Canada begins with a short drive along the Klondike Highway to Carcross, Yukon, a town brimming with with First Nations culture and gold rush history, and then on to the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon.

Starting in Vancouver, BC

To explore more of beautiful British Columbia before boarding the Alaska Marine Highway ferry, start your journey in Vancouver, BC and connect to Victoria via the BC Ferry System. Several short ferry routes connect to Vancouver Island, home to Victoria - BC’s capital - known for its historic Victorian architecture, stunning gardens, and thriving local food and arts scene.  Victoria is located at the southern tip of the Vancouver Island road system, and from there it’s a 6 hour drive north along the eastern coastline of Vancouver Island to Port Hardy, where you’ll board the BC Ferry System for the ferry ride to Prince Rupert, BC.

Car deck of the ferry over to Quadra Island from Campbell River.
CAMPBELL RIVER, BC. Photo Credit: Destination Campbell River, Bluetree Photography

From Prince Rupert, you can decide to continue on by land or sea. If you’d like to keep exploring coastal communities on the ferry system, you can board the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to continue north through Alaska’s Inside Passage. If the road beckons, it’s a 3 hour drive along the Yellowhead Highway, following the banks of the Skeena River, to Kitwanga, BC, where you’ll join up with the Cassiar Highway to continue your drive north through BC and then on to the Alaska Highway in the Yukon.

The scenic drive along the Cassiar Highway will bring you to the Alaska Highway near Watson Lake, just north of the Yukon border. You’ll then head to the historic Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon, before continuing on to the Alaska/Canada Border. Once in Alaska, you’ll start making your way back south towards the sea as you head towards the port community of Valdez. You’ll pass through the community of Tok – providing a warm welcome to Alaska – and then on to Glennallen – gateway to Wrangell St. Elias National Park, the largest National Park in the United States. Consider making a detour to the unique town of McCarthy and the fascinating Kennecott Copper Mine within the park.

RV with mountains in Yukon, Canada
YUKON. Photo Credit: Government of Yukon, R Hartmier

Inside Passage Route Highlights

The Inside Passage Route adds layers of experiences to your journey. Victoria, BC, one of the oldest cities on the Pacific coast, puts its British charm on display. Seaside towns nestle beside coastal mountains where thrill seekers whale watch, kayak, dog mush, and even snorkel. Delightful boardwalk shops and restaurants line the harbors while excursions leave regularly for glacier viewing, fishing, black and brown bear spotting, and guided hiking tours. Ketchikan, Alaska embodies the small-town appeal of “Main Street,” with friendly faces and hometown entertainment, while Skagway, Alaska brings the Gold Rush boom back to life.

First Nations and Alaska Native culture and natural beauty follow this route as well. Wonder at one of the world’s largest collections of outdoor totem poles in Duncan, BC, or enjoy Tlingit heritage on display at Chief Shakes Island in Wrangell, Alaska. Birders love Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge just past the Alaska/Canada border, with over 116 bird species that visit annually. Kluane National Park in the Yukon and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Tongass National Forest in Alaska are home to abundant wildlife, glaciers, and stunning scenery.

Learn more about Indigenous cultural experiences along the route.

*Note: Ferries accommodate RVs, cars, and motorcycles of all sizes (and even bikes and kayaks), but reservations should be made well in advance as space is limited. Pets are also allowed on board Alaska and BC ferries, although usually restricted to the car deck.

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Inside Passage Route Map

Inside Passage Route Map

 

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